Blog - Carla Coulson
paged,page,page-id-15682,page-parent,page-template,page-template-blog-standard-whole-post,page-template-blog-standard-whole-post-php,paged-8,page-paged-8,eltd-core-1.0.3,et_bloom,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,borderland child-child-ver-1.0.0,borderland-ver-1.5.1, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,paspartu_enabled,paspartu_on_top_fixed,paspartu_on_bottom_fixed,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive

How To Find Your Photographic Style

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photo Copyright Elliott Erwitt

Dear Photographers,

One of the questions I am asked often is ‘how do I find my style as a photographer’?

So let’s look first at what is a style or vision?

Photography is a personal vision. It is an individual way of looking at the world and capturing a photo that tells a story.

No two photographers see the same subject in the same way. Your particular taste and vision will set you apart from other photographers and this is your precious gift.  A photographer’s vision can be seen repeated in their photos over and over again, like a brand.

The great Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt’s trademark black and white images of dogs, street photography and portraits are infused with humour, wit and romance.  Steve McCurry another Magnum star almost works exclusively in vibrant colour with a more serious tone and if you look closely at his portraits they are always simple and engaging.

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photo Copyright Steve McCurry

Robert Doisneau exclusively used black and white and his images of Paris are romantic, sweet and always with a dash of innocence. You can almost feel the kindness of this man in his images.

The great Elliott Erwitt also has this to say about his style and his choice of subject matter. Erwitt mentions in interviews that ‘his colleagues in Magnum are generally seen as more “serious” photographers– who photograph more “serious” events.’

However Erwitt tries to not take himself too seriously: “Well, I’m not a serious photographer like most of my colleagues. That is to say, I’m serious about not being serious.”

One thing that all these photographers have in common is that you can easily recognize their work without seeing their ‘byline’ (byline is a photographer’s or a journalist’s name printed alongside their story in a magazine). Their work is their byline.

They all have their own vision, their own style of lighting, emotions they wish to portray, their own presentation of their photos, mood of their work, personality and their own special way that they communicate through their images

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How I Found My Style

When I arrived in Florence in the year 2000, I didn’t have access to a huge group of friends or contacts but I did have Popi (my gorgeous landlady) and her friends. I started there, I asked to photograph them, the kids I shared the house with and the people on the streets of Florence and slowly the people I would interact with each day.

I started messing around, taking photos that I thought I wanted to take from portraits to fashion inspired photos. I followed my heart and this is where it led me. I now realise the values I held dear and subjects that were in my subconscious at the time came through.


Love and lack of it in the previous years had been a big theme for me and when I arrived in Italy it seemed like I was surrounded by it. Photography has always been about the emotions for me. Capturing all those outwardly expressed emotions in Italy came naturally. I couldn’t believe the amount of public displays of affection and I think it was also a reflection of the highly emotional state I felt after leaving my life in Sydney to find something I loved – photography.

A lot of what we shoot as photographers is about how WE FEEL.


I had been trapped in an office for the best part of my adult life and movement felt like the opposite to me, it represented life, action and adventure. I was obsessed with movement of all kinds including families on vespas, people of all ages riding bikes in Florence or driving strange little vehicles in the Italian countryside. Movement has become part of my style as I am always attracted to it no matter whether it is vespas, cars or people. I love blur and the emotions that come with movement in a photo.

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson


My obsession with religious iconography had to do with my lack of religious grounding in Australia and arriving to the overload and beauty of religious iconography in Italy. I was a magnet to a Madonna! I was obsessed with every tabernacle on a street corner, statues of Madonna’s in churches and religious art and just kept shooting them. I never asked why or what I would do with them but I think it comes back to my instinct.

I was attracted to the emotion they portrayed and just went with it.


I have always loved fashion and had long been a lover of fashion magazines and beautiful clothes. This love flowed over into photography even though I was shooting travel and life photos in the beginning it was often reflected.

I loved the innate elegance of Italians and would stop well-dressed people in the street and ask if I could take a photo. If I had the choice I would seek out someone dressed at the market in a certain way or with the right apron and boots. Clothes have always been a big deal for me and they are still are a big part of how I love to shoot. They really help make an image stronger.

Confession: I have ‘tweaked’ or created photos from the beginning, dressing friends and even Francesco on holidays to go out and take a photo that I wanted or felt would express something.

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson


I love things that make me laugh in life and even more when I can capture it in a photo. I think this comes back to who we are as photographers, often what we shoot is how WE FEEL OR THINK. IT IS OFTEN ABOUT US.


I shot and printed almost exclusively in black and white in the early years and as I didn’t have an end use at the time for my images, I did what pleased me. Black and white became a huge part of my style and in the early years I loved shooting at night and would always end up with half a roll of film in my camera the day afterwards and go out and shoot in daylight – hence I always had a lot of grain in my images – all by accident.


There is a certain romance, nostalgia and love of all things old and falling apart in my style (except for people). You will probably notice in most of my travel images there is rarely a modern building or a clean hard edged interior, you are more likely to find a building or street with an ancient story or full of life, walls with peeling paint and faded colours. This was and is a reflection of my love for Europe and its stories and layers.. just like life.

I love authenticity and textures.

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How To Find Your Style

Your style will have a great value in the future.

  1. Don’t be in hurry to develop your ‘style’. It will come naturally if you take the photos that you love and from the heart. Try not to be too influenced by everyone around you.
  2. Ask yourself what are your values, what is important to you?
  3. Keep shooting the photos you want to take and listen to your inner voice. Don’t ask why
  4. Ask yourself what is it you want to say in your images?
  5. With time your style will come without you even realising it. You may find using a particular camera, a particular lighting setup, a post production process, a lens, injecting energy and emotions or using a certain depth of field may create an effect you like and your natural style will develop.
  6. The post production choices that you make to present your photos is also a big contributor to your style, whether you choose to use high contrast black and white, punchy colour, faded vintage colours or low contrast sepia images all becomes part of your photographic look.

Music portrait photographer Anton Corbijn found his style by accident. He decided against using a flash or a tripod when shooting his portraits — he claims that he’s never been good with the technical stuff — and because of that he developed an instantly recognizable style using high speed grainy film early on.

How To Find Your Photographic Style

Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Your handicap is your strongest asset,” he explains. “I made it work for myself, and then somehow that becomes how you take pictures, which is different to a lot of people. I mean, you always strive for the perfect thing, but then life gets in the way. A lot of my better pictures have slight imperfections… I look back at the old pictures, and I made so many mistakes.

I hope this helps you on your path to finding your style and personal vision.

“But I tell you, for me, each photographer brings his own light from when he was a kid, in this fraction of a second when you freeze reality, you also freeze all this background. You materialize who you are.” Sebastiao Salgado




Paris in Bloom


All Images Copyright Georgianna Lane From Paris In Bloom

Dear Friends,

Paris In Bloom, is a book that Paris lovers have been waiting their whole life for! And I promise you I am not overstating it. I have had the joy of seeing it before it hit the printers.

Gorgeous photographer Georgianna Lane, has been teasing, taunting and delighting us with beauty over the years with her photos of Paris and flowers and now she has packaged the crème de la crème of Paris, it’s flowers, it’s parks, it’s architecture, it’s florists and it’s beauty into Paris In Bloom.


Get ready for a beauty overload. It’s food for the soul, it’s a book of dreams and details, of flowers so perfect you want to hug them to you, of photographs that remind you of the best day of your life in Paris. Her photography is exquisite.

A  book like this takes blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of love and vision. And you can feel the love and care in every photo.

I met Georgianna many years ago via our blogs and we have had the pleasure of meeting numerous times now in Paris and chatting about our dreams, our projects and photography and I was lucky to see this beautiful book being born, taking shape and Georgianna coming back time and time again to Paris to perfect it.


paris-in-bloom-final-11 paris-in-bloom-final-14 paris-in-bloom-final-18 paris-in-bloom-final-20 paris-in-bloom-final-27 paris-in-bloom-final-38 paris-in-bloom-final-67

If you love Paris, flowers and femininity there is only one book you need to buy yourself this year, PARIS IN BLOOM.


All Images Copyright Georgianna Lane From Paris In Bloom

Huge congratulations to Georgianna for the most inspiring photography book I have seen on Paris in a long while.

I purchased mine on pre-order because this baby is going to sell like hot-cakes and those printing presses will be printing their little hearts out as fast as they can. So if you don’t want to miss out and make sure this is in your mailbox in March you can buy you copy HERE.

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ps. You can follow her on Instagram HERE and check out her website HERE


The Creative Career Flip Scholarship Winner is…

creative scholarship, creative career flip, carla coulson

Dearest Photographers, Interior designers, Graphic Artists, Musicians, Writers and Creatives,

A wholehearted thank-you to everyone that applied for my Creative Career Flip Scholarship. I was overwhelmed with the response from everyone and this is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my grown up life, I wanted to help you all.

I was so moved by your stories, your passions, your dreams and stand in awe of your creativity. Time and time again I clicked on your website, your Instagram account or Facebook page and marveled at the beauty you have created. Hats off!!!

Before I announce the winner I want to express to you that you know more than you think you know, you could articulate your frustrations, your dreams and what you don’t want to do. You were willing to stand in your truth and tell me what isn’t working and my dear friends looking in the mirror and seeing the truth is a MASSIVE step.

I couldn’t walk away from you all so if you applied for the scholarship there will be a surprise in your inbox in a couple of days.

But I am also excited to announce that for the next 6 months I will be accompanying Emily Jane Davies on her journey to make a successful career flip on her terms,  to create the blend of creativity, success and vision that she loves.


We can stay in touch in my private Creative Career Flip Facebook group if you aren’t already in there.

Carla loves you!!!

“Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.” Bill Moyer



What Does 40,368 Photographic Hours Give You?


All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Dear Friends,

A huge, beautiful and joyous 2017 to you and your family.

I know many of you are on your photography path and the most important thing is to enjoy it no matter what point you are at.

The aim of this blog and photography for me is joy and personal reward and I want to encourage each and everyone of you to take the photos you love.

But recently I was asked by someone unsure if they were ready to start a photography business ‘how much time had I devoted to photography’?

I have never ever tried to quantify it? How many shutter clicks? How many kilometers? How many hours looking through the viewfinder? How many hours looking at works of other photographers? How many exhibits? How much money? And how many mistakes (plenty of them)?


But just for fun I did some sums of just my photography hours.

Here’s what I came up with on paper:

First year of photography school 6 hours (min) a day x 7 days x 52 weeks taking photos (there was no stopping me) …sometimes it was all night – 2184 hours

Year two I had nothing to do but photography. I went on a photo spree and created 15 photographic stories that I sold to magazines and travelled far and wide in Italy. I would calculate at least the same as above if not more –2184 hours

Year 3 I started receiving commissions and travelled to Spain, around Italy and worked full time at photography – 3000 hours

Year 4 I received my first book commission and continued working with magazines and travelled around Italy – 3000 hours

Year 5 – 15 I created a further 7 photography books, hundreds of magazine articles, started a portrait business doing up to 30 shoots a year. . My guess would be approx 3000 hours a year x 10 years – 30,000 hours.

So in my humble accounting estimations I calculate approximately 40, 368 hours not including the hours at the computer, the post processing, the grading and the uploading and downloading etc.

But what does that mean photographically.


It means confidence. It means knowing how to deal with bad weather, bad moods (not mine) and bad hair days. It means knowing when you have it or when to keep going. It means going the extra distance to get that shot that will be the hero. It means giving the person in front of you ALL your attention, love and care as long as the shoot lasts. It means never walking away from the job knowing in your heart you don’t have what you need. It means no matter how tired, cold, hungry you are, you will get what the magazine/client or what you want.

It means a ton of laughter, of wonderful relationships and friendships born, of wonder, it’s filling your creative tank up with beauty, it’s having time to reflect on life and on your values. I like to think all of those minute decisions, the shutter clicks are personal questions, now or later, yes or no, good or bad, right or wrong. It means really getting to know myself as much as all the wonderful people and situations I have had a chance to live.

It means knowing you can ask a client to hold a chicken and you can get away with it!!!!

You may look at this number and groan and think is this how many hours I have to do to get anywhere? Please don’t groan, this has been the greatest learning I have had the chance to live. Every hour a lesson, every new situation a little more stretching me out of my comfort zone, another couple of clicks letting me stand stronger in my shoes and really know who I am.

It’s been a joy, it was the most beautiful mountain I have ever had to climb and every footstep has been a ‘teacher’. Doing the work, the hours, the time, call it what you want has been the true reward.

So if you you are wondering if you have put enough time into your craft or do you need to do the required 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers to master something?

No, you don’t but do know when you reach your 10,000 hours something special seeps into your bones, your work and your consciousness. It’s a goal worth striving for because nothing else will get you there and no other reward is greater than feeling confident about what you are doing and the life experiences you get to live along the way. Don’t be afraid of the work!


If you are unsure about whether you are ready ask yourself the following questions:

1. How many hours, years have you done?
2. What have you mastered, really mastered that you have no fear of doing?
3. Would you pay for your services?
4. What courses have you taken?
5. Do you know the true basics of your craft?
6. Have you given your craft time to develop?
7. Is there are hurry to start?
8. What are the chances of you walking away time and time again with the material you have promised?
9. Did you shoot last week, last month, this year? If you can’t answer yes to two of these you are probably not ready.


All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

If you are feeling insecure for any reason or have a blind spot in your craft do the following before you start.

1. Do a course or workshop that will give you answers and skills in that particular area
2. Practice, practice and practice. Do the work, climb your mountain.
3. Face your fear. Whatever it is, do it over and over again

And if you haven’t read my ‘If I Was Starting Out Today’ PDF you can read it HERE.

For all the rest of you enjoy your photography, experiment, take photos from new angles, with new eyes and enjoy this beautiful world we live in and have the chance to cherish every day through our viewfinder. You will climb your own mountain without even knowing it.

Wishing you the best year ever



(Almost) Italian + Announcing My 6 Month Scholarship

1-creative-career-flip-scholarshipDear friends,

Whilst you are reading this I am swearing allegiance to the Italian flag, mozzarella, beach beds, a crazy emotional country and a dream come true. At this moment I am becoming an Italian citizen.

I have been overwhelmed with emotion since the day I heard the news. The past 16 years feel like they have passed in a nanosecond.

It has been the journey of a lifetime, maybe 10 lifetimes. I feel I have squeezed so much happiness, love, travel and personal reward into them that even I can’t believe how much has happened.

I have been wracking my brains on how we can celebrate together and how I can give back to you for sharing this journey and all my ups and downs and give someone the opportunity and the taste of the life I have had the chance to live.

I know many of you out there have creative dreams of your own that maybe aren’t taking shape the way you want them to so I figure the best gift I could give is the chance to live the life I have lived!!!


I want to help someone fast forward their dreams to become a reality.

So I have created a 6 Month Creative Career Flip Scholarship.

I will work side by side with you weekly for 6 months, we will brainstorm where you want to go, what you want to do and create a blueprint to make that happen. I will assist in helping you rework your portfolio, branding, message, voice, marketing and social media. We can break through any beliefs or blocks that have been holding you back and together we will create structures to support your business and scheduling to help make things happen. We can create or improve pricing, packaging and presentation.


I will guide you through implementation, creating content and all the minute detail that will help you “hit your creative career out of the ballpark”!!!

This is not a competition, there are conditions and you must fit into the following:

  1. Be proficient at your art and not a beginner
  2. Already in business
  3. Willing to devote at least 5- 10 hours a week for weekly implementation
  4. Be available and ready to commit to be on every Skype call for one hour every week for 24 weeks straight
  5.  Confused about how to move forward with clarity
  6. Have a small amount of money to invest in improvements such as website upgrades or a to engage virtual assistants where needed to improve productivity
  7. Still have fire in your belly for your creative art
  8. Are willing to make 2017 a non-negotiable to go after your dream
  9. You are ready for change! And willing to take new steps, do things differently and you are done with the same old patterns that don’t bring you joy.
  10. Want more joy, success and personal reward in your life


You can read more about what’s in store for you HERE. 

If this sounds like YOU or SOMEONE YOU KNOW you can register HERE for the chance to win the scholarship.

I am super excited to give this opportunity to someone and help them make their dreams a reality.

Please note that the winner will be announced on the 9th January 2017.

Tell your friends, sisters, creative mates and anyone you know that needs a leg up to make their creative career fly.

Much love