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 

Like this post? Don’t miss one..

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

Like this post? Don’t miss one..

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..

Like this post? Don’t miss one..

Carla’s On Design Sponge Today

Design Sponge Carla Coulson 1 Valery Damon

I have had a ‘blog crush ‘on Design Sponge since I first ran my cursor over their name.

Design Sponge is one of the biggest design blogs on the net full of gorgeous design and style and there are always daily surprises and loveliness to dream about and today I am loving it even more – my interior shoot of stylish Parisian designer Valery Damnon is featured!!

Design Sponge 3 Carla Coulson Valery Damon

Valery has a light filled apartment just near Republique full of delectable Scandinavian design..

design sponge carla coulson valery damon 4

With a balcony I dream of. For more gorgeousness and Parisian drooling check out the full story at Design Sponge.

Merci at Tous!


Like this post? Don’t miss one..

What’s The Right Camera and Lens for you?

carla coulson cameras

Some of my old ‘war-horse’ cameras and lens that look like they have been through a war taken on my Canon 5D Mark II F4

I remember walking through the streets of Florence at night and stopping in front of every camera store window and looking at the goods as though as I was looking in the window of Gucci poring over the latest seasons caftans.

The minute I started photography all of a sudden cameras became glamorous!! And I was fascinated about which was the best one and the right one for me..

From the day I bought my first Nikon FE I have loved cameras and have bought MANY.. Too many and now resist the ‘gear obsession’ urge as often as possible.

Over the years  I have owned:

2 Nikon FE’s

1 Nikonos underwater Camera

1 Leica M6

1 Leica M7

1 Hasselblad 503CW

1 Nikon D70

1 Nikon D200

1 Leica M8.2

1 Canon 5D Mark II

and not too mention all the corresponding lens that went with all of them.

I have had true love affairs with my Leica M6 and M7 and taken some of my favourite street photography and fashion pics on these cameras and can’t wait to the digital Leica camera catches up to the brilliance of their analogue versions.

I am currently adoring my Canon 5D Mark III. For years I invested in Nikon bodies and lens and then one day made the jump to Canon  due simply to a megapixel difference for the same level camera and another whole new investment started from scratch Ugghhh. NB.. Nikons are great cameras.

carla coulson camera 2

My cameras have travelled thousands of miles with me, suffered below 0 degree freezing temperatures and scalding heat on jobs, they have survived bumps and drops and faithfully carried me on this journey. They mean so much to me.

The million dollar question every photographer wants to know is “which camera and lens should I buy”.

I always respond with another question..”which type of photography do you want to do”. The kind of photography you want to do has a huge impact on which camera, lens and equipment that will suit that kind of photography.

A great camera doesn’t make a great photographer but a great photographer can make great photos even on an Iphone so your photography skills are always the most important thing. A great camera takes your photography skills to the next level.

Let’s talk about the equipment an Interiors/lifestyle photography versus a portrait photographer.

Le-Petit-Moulin-Paris-Carla-Coulson1 Le Petit Moulin Paris Shot on a 50mm Lens at F8 Copyright Carla Coulson

Interior Photography

An interiors photographer needs to capture different rooms in homes, apartments and exteriors of varying sizes and a professional would shoot on a medium format camera as opposed to a 35mm because there is less distortion.

If you were to use a 35mm camera you would want a camera that had a full frame sensor such as the Canon Mark 5D III (22.3 million pixel sensor) or the Nikon D800 (36.3 million pixel sensor) both fine cameras.

There is a reason the pro cameras and lenses are more expensive, generally the bodies are made from more resistant material and they save the drop factor (ie dropping it). Same can be said for lens, I have dropped a couple of cameras and lenses during the past 13 years and I can testify that Leica M6 and M7 survived as did my Camera L Series lens (when dropped from table height onto the street). What didn’t survive? An entry level 50mm Canon lens that cost next to nothing, smashed to smitherins when my assistant accidentally let it fly.

One of the important things in interior photography is that all the architectural lines are straight (wonky or distorted looks unprofessional), therefore fixed lens would be a starting point as they distort less than zoom lens (even great quality ones) and generally have low Apertures. A 50 mm lens would be a great lens to start with and you could add as you go lens such as 24mm, 28mm, 35mm.

Most interiors are shot on a tripod as a large depth of field is important as seeing the whole room and its contents are vital and this is next to impossible using the camera hand held, typical F-stops would start at F-8 through to F-16.

Carla Coulson eliza portrait

Portrait taken on my Leica M8.2 using a 50mm lens shot at F-2

Portrait Photography

A portrait photographer will make different choices for their gear than an interiors photographer as generally speaking portraits aren’t shot on a tripod unless working exclusively in a studio without a lot of movement.

A portrait photographer may choose the same camera bodies in the examples above such as the full frame sensor such as the Canon Mark 5D III (22.3 million pixel sensor) or the Nikon D800 (36.3 million pixel sensor) both fine cameras but their lens choice may vary.

I use a ‘workhorse’ pro Canon lens 24-70mm that has a low aperture of F-2.8 that is great when you need to shoot fast and in varying conditions. I love shooting with a fixed 50mm lens especially if there is architecture involved as even in my portraits I want straight architectural lines.  I also love the fixed 85mm Canon portrait lens (although it is very heavy) that produces wonderful soft images and the depth of field between the F-Stops is much finer than say a 35mm or a 50mm so you can blur as much or as little of the image as you want.

The apertures are important and if you plan on working in low light (i do all the time) you will need to consider a lens with an F-Stop of F-1.4 or F-2 or F-2.8. These apertures are the difference between getting a photo or not in low light situations.

Still Life Carla Coulson

Still life taken on Canon 5D Mark II 24-70mm Lens used at 70mm on F-2.8

Important Lens Information

When buying lenses you will generally want faster glass for low-light situations and the best possible performance and flexibility. F-1.4 is as fast (generally) as it gets. To the newcomer, a F-stop seem undifferentiated, but the drop-off in light entering the camera from stop to stop is significant; exposure is logarithmic, so F-1.4 allows twice as much light to enter the camera as F-2, F-2 twice as much as F-2.8, F-2.8 twice as much as F-4, etc.

There is a vast difference in the depth of field on different focal lengths of lenses also. For example a F-4 on a 35mm lens has a larger depth of field than a F-4 on an 85mm lens. The higher you go in Focal length, 85mm, 135mm, 210mm the lower the depth of field is between F-stops.  The reverse also applies when you are using lens such as a 24mm or a 28mm and even at a low F-Stop such as F-4 you have a wide depth of field because of the nature of the lens.

What does this mean?? This means if you were shooting the same shot with the two different lens you would have different focal plane in depth and what is in focus and the amount of blur in the background. If your subject moves slightly whilst taking the same shot with the different lenses on the same F-stop there is a giant probabilty that with the 85mm your subject will move out of the focal plane because it is so fine. Instead on the same F-Stop on the 35mm lens your subject could still be in focus  because the focal plane depth is larger (depends on how far they moved and in what direction).

This is just a brief overview of two different types of photography and some choices you could make.

I hope this examples helps you consider carefully what type of photography you are interested in before making a major investment in camera gear and lenses and generally a reputable camera shop will have experienced staff who can help you make the right choices.

Things that are important to consider:

1. What type of photography you want to do

2. Whether you want to be a professional photographer one day and invest in a good camera.

3. A full frame sensor is better long tern.

4. Choose your lens based on what type of photography you want to do and consider purchasing fixed lens with low F-Stops such as F-1.4 (brilliant in low light) as well as a workhorse zoom..

5. I have always had a 50mm lens in my camera bag and remains one of my favourite lens to use still today.

Best of luck.. hope this helps.

“Cars and cameras are the two things I let myself be materialistic about. I don’t care about other stuff.” Louis C.K.




Please share if you think it might help someone you know..

Like this post? Don’t miss one..

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...