Category Archives: Going Pro

Your Photography Career – Freedom vs Security

Collezioni Sposa Night running Carla Coulson

Collezioni copyright Carla Coulson

Ever felt like running away to join the circus? Whoops… I actually did.

I am sure many of you have been overcome with feelings at some stage of wanting to just pack it all in and run off and do something you love? Kiss your boss goodbye forever, toss your high heel shoes and tight skirt in the bin and slam-dunk the bundy card forever.

I crocodile wrestled with this feeling for years (the packing it in bit)..and then eventually my world imploded and I left.

I was having a chat with Francesco (super cute hubby)  the other night (yep he wants to join the circus, I am thinking Lion tamer) about him eventually switching careers.

My darling architect is studying to be a Geobiologist (study of the earth’s and man-made energies and it’s effect on your health) and he always feels there is never enough time in the day/night to study what he loves and yearns for more ‘time’.

We got into a fabulous discussion about Freedom vs Security and I am the first person to support his eventual career change but baby everything has it’s time.

We both agreed that it ‘appears’ the more freedom you have the less security you have and vice versa.  I had plenty to say on this topic about making your ‘freedom more secure’.

Francesco is a tiny bit green with envy each day as he leaves home to go to his day job and leaves me to get on with my work day. I secretly think he thinks I swan through the day from one coffee to the next , kick back on the sofa with super kitty but you all know that isn’t so.

Francesco doing zorba Astylpalia

Francesco doing a happy dance in Greece copyright Carla Coulson

Let’s look at some concepts of:



Regular income

Daily structure


Someone creating the work for you

Paid holidays


Repetitive Routine

Times not yours

Settling for a job you don’t necessary love



Work your own hours

Do the work you love

No boss or office politics

More free time


No regular income

No structure

You need to find clients and create the work

Bookkeeping and accounts

Find a balance between not enough and too much work

Work on your own

happy dance CARLA COULSON

Of course these lists are stereotypes of what Freedom and Security mean to the individual but it has been my goal from the beginning of my photography career to make my career and life as ‘secure’ as possible.

I too crave security. There are many things that come with freedom that can be unsettling like not enough money to pay the rent (been there- scary) but there is nothing so rewarding as doing something you love.

Here’s How I Did It

1. Structure/Work Routine. Once I had my photography skills at a good level and wanted to start working I created a ‘work’ routine. I decided on when I would start work each day and when I would finish and this gave my day, week and life a sense of structure. Even in the beginning when I didn’t have clients there was still a lot to do like have a great portfolio, understand who would be my clients and research them and how to get in touch with them and I started putting together my own stories. Create a structure that suits you and the way you want to work. Ask your friends and family to respect this and not to just drop in or call whenever they feel like it.

2. Invest in the longterm/Regular Clients. When I started working with magazines my goal was to work with the same magazines over and over again so that they would become regular clients. I knew from having a business that a regular client was worth gold.  I worked with one magazine that pretty much gave me a job each month during the year over a period of almost 10 years. This worked out better than even I could have dreamed of. The other magazines I worked with gave me a job on a regular basis let’s say 3 or 4 times a year over a period of 10 years so you can see already how a pattern of security was building between my 6 favourite magazines. I also worked with other magazines on a not so regular basis as one-off clients. Think about who could be your long-term client and how you can reach them and build a lasting  relationship.

3. Income Streams. One of the reasons I started doing books other than for the love of it was to create additional income streams. The great things about books if they sell well is that they can go on selling for years and create an income stream from royalties. When I published Italian Joy thanks to all you kind folks it was a success so that heartfelt book kept selling and selling and even today almost 10 years later I still receive income from it. I have collaborated on 3 other books and written and photographed 3 of my own so together they have been another patch in my ‘security blanket’. Think about what kind of income streams you could create such as selling prints, e-books or ideas.

4. Market Your Work. It can be hard as a photographer or creative to put yourself out there but I knew from the beginning I was only going to survive if I marketed my work. For me this meant getting in to see key art directors at the magazines I loved and eventually publishers. This was one of my goals in the beginning and I have continued to market my work throughout the years by regularly visiting my clients when in Australia, meeting new contacts and getting involved with social media. Even if you don’t want to work with magazines you can apply this to what you do want to do.

Other ways to make changing your career more secure

Transition – this is one of the most under-rated of all the fabulous moves you can make. Start preparing your career move long in advance, use your steady income to buy equipment, set up websites and create a social media profile. Start doing jobs on the weekend if you can and when you build your confidence and client base, go for it.

Savings – Make a budget of how much you will need to live on for a year or two and work towards having that money set aside before launching your career. You will be free from financial worries in the beginning and can concentrate on being creative and getting where you want to go.

I hope this helps any of you feeling insecure about giving up your day job and flying over to the other side. Leave me a comment below and I promise to get back to you..

“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” Chuck Palahniuk




Please share with other freedom fighters! x 

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Backstage Get Published 2013


All Images by Dee Gerlach

I have been wanting share these images of the behind the scenes from the Get Published Workshop in Sydney last December taken by the fabulous Dee Gerlach since I arrived back in Paris.

Dee is a gorgeous gal, fab photographer with a brilliant eye.


Get Published was held in the ever so groovy ‘The School’ run by super stylist Megan Morton and her husband Giles.

A large photography studio seemed the perfect place for a bunch of wonderful photographers to find out how they could have their images published in books and magazines.


That’s me talking about photographic style and vision and the wonderful group of guys and gals. The morning was devoted to magazines and how they work from every possible angle including my ‘coal face’ experiences working with magazines for 12 years.


Morning tea ready and waiting.


Sharon Misko Creative Director of Inside out joined us again this year and walked the photographers through many topics from the magazines point of view including how to present a portfolio, do’s and don’ts, creating a user friendly website for Art Directors, creating a great story, essential images in a photographic story and how to present to an Art Director.


Sharon Misko Creative Director of Inside Out talks about what makes a story standout.


 Sharon Misko Creative Director of Inside Out critiques some of the participants work for the benefit of everyone.


Listening intently to what Sharon Misko has to say.


 Lunch was catered by Mike’s Kitchen.. Heavenly

Carla-Coulson--Get-Published-Workshop- Yummmm by Mike’s Kitchen


A big afternoon on book publishing and how to have your images or a book idea published.


Waiting for our special guest Katie Quinn Davies of What Katie Ate.


Katie Generously shared her story from self taught food photographer, to winner of the James Beard Award and an International best selling book with What Katie Ate.


Katie chatting with the girls at the end of the workshop


Some of my published work on the pinboards.


A huge thanks to the gorgeous group who participated. It was such a fabulous experience to meet so many wonderful people and to have the opportunity to see their work and hear their dreams.


All images by Dee Gerlach

A little ‘Get Published Booklet’ signing!!

I can’t wait to hear what happens for these photographers this year and I am sure there will be many beautiful stories and books published just like last year.

Athalee Brown and her team did an extraordinary job running the event, heartfelt thanks for all the hard work and delish food.

Many people have asked me whether Get Published will be taught online and it’s in the pipeline for next year so if you would like to get on the workshop list and be the first to be notified you can sign up here.

“I appreciate simplicity, true beauty that lasts over time, and a little wit and eclecticism that make life more fun.” Elliott Erwitt




Please feel free to share

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Backstage at The Picture This Workshop 2014

Picture This Workshop

I am so happy to share with you some behind the scenes pics from the 2nd Edition of Picture This Portrait/Fashion Workshop in Sydney this January.

Twelve great photographers participated, 9 fabulous ‘real’ people models, 2 make-up artists, a stylist, Athalee the super workshop organiser and her assistants, the fab Loc Boyle (super Parisian photographer) and moi. We shared four great days of photography, fun, delicious food and laughter in 3 different locations, snapping, chatting and practising.

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

There were big hair and dresses..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson Gorgeous gals..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And big smiles..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

There was inspiration..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And hair and make-up..

_MG_7513Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And Ironing..

Picture This Carla Coulson Workshop

And a little ‘Saint Tropez’  inspiration..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

Did I mention the laughter?

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And sailor salutes..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And Hippy chicks..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

Even freezing still manages to look good..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

More beautiful Hippy chicks..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson


Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And sirens..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

Day 1.. Theory

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

Waiting for the photographers and the workshop to start..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

Some surprises..

Picture This Workshop Carla Coulson

And loads of photos..

I walked away from this workshop with a smile a mile wide, a heart filled with happiness and re-energised from the positive energy of great people doing what they love.

So my heart felt thanks to everyone who participated, each and everyone of you made these four days unforgettable and to everyone who worked on the workshop.. 21 gun salute to all of you!!

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” David Frost
Love and thanks




PS: If you would like to go on the list for next years workshop please get in touch with us at A place will be reserved for you when the workshop registration opens later in the year..

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Overcoming Fear

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. It’s a beautiful day in Paris after weeks of rain and more to come but light puts an amazing positive slant on everything.

Many of you have written me to about taking the first step towards a new life. I know it’s scary but sometimes fear can be good. I love the above quote by Mary Anne Radmacher and for me it sums up my career. No overnight success just a lot of ‘trying again tomorrow’.

I don’t think there is a creative person alive that doesn’t know fear. There are so many things that we can fear if we choose to, fear of our work being rejected, fear of failure, fear of working on our own, fear of having no money, the unknown and sometimes it might be even be fear of succeeding.

I have worked on my own for almost 26 years (13 as a photographer and 13 as a small business owner) and I know how it feels to be frightened.

Changing my life and becoming a photographer has been equal parts of fear, excitement, happiness and reward but there have been days when my stomach has woven itself in knots and I have wanted to curl up in a dark room (and I probably did).

Many people have told me over and over again how courageous I have been to make it happen. I tell them that for me courage ‘is that quiet voice at the end of the day that says I will try again tomorrow’.

From the outside my path may have looked easy but I can unsure this is not an overnight success story. I have tried every day since I started photography, taking small steps day after day, sticking to my plan and never giving in and it has been those small consistent steps that has ‘made it happen’.

Overcoming Fear

There will be good days and there will be bad days and if you know that from the outset don’t let the bad days drag you down (too far).

You can achieve big things being consistent with small steps so whenever you are frightened don’t look at the big picture, look at what small steps you can take today that will get you to tomorrow.

If you take small steps everyday and stick to your plan it will take you to your future.

Wishing you a wonderful journey..

Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow”. Mary Anne Radmacher




Please feel free to share with anyone who is living a self doubting moment..


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Your Personal Photographic Vision

Natalia Vodianova by Paolo Roversi

Photography is a personal vision. It is an individual way of looking at the world and capturing a photo that tells a story. Your particular taste and vision will set you apart from other photographers and this is your precious gift. So have faith in your style!

A photographer’s vision can be seen repeated in their photos over and over again, like a brand. Fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth produces splendid images of sexy girls having lots of fun in wild colours and high contrast black and whites.

Photo Copyright Ellen Von Unwerth

Paolo Roversi creates soft focused dreams with his large format Polaroid camera and Richard Avedon was renowned for his simplicity, elegance and his famous white background. Ansel Adams searched for silence, perfection and majesty in his landscapes and Helmut Newton’s black and whites have come to symbolise strong sexy women.

Paolo Roversi’s  said this about his style “When I look at my pictures from 20 years ago, even when the  technique  of  the  light  is  very  different,  I  see  a  kind  of unity, and this surprises me. Even in my book, Nudi, the photos look like they were taken in the same place, in the same light, on the same day. But they were taken over the course of 10 to 12 years, in New York, London, Paris”

Photo Copyright Paolo Roversi

One thing that all these photographers have in common is that you can easily recognise their work without seeing their ‘byline’ (byline is a photographers or a journalists name printed alongside of 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 with their sitter and this shows in the photos. 

So don’t ask yourself why you take the photos you do just take the photos you love! And try not to be influenced by everyone around. Believe in yourself.

“Be yourself, the world worships the original.” Jean Cocteau

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