Category Archives: Portrait Inspiration

Theatrical Portraits + Shooting Tips

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson

There is nothing I like better than two gorgeous gals rocking up in Paris with suitcases bursting with clothes and theatrical ideas in their heads.

What a treat it was to shoot this job. This fabulous mother and daughter were bunkered down in the beautiful L’Hotel just a couple of steps from the Beaux Arts on the Left Bank.

L’Hotel is were Oscar Wilde famously passed away so Oscar had to be a part of the fun.

As I shot this mother roaring with laughter with her daughter I thought what a special bond they have and what a treat to doing something as fun with your glam mum in Paris. Brava Mel!

Stay tuned at the bottom on the post for shooting tips on how I shot these pics.

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson

How I shot these Photos..

I am a huge fan of two light looks. Natural light and dramatic flash.

Where the natural light was beautiful I took advantage and used large window light.

The room was fabulous and I have learnt in Parisian hotels the bed moves! So to create extra shots I moved the bed to the other part of the room and added the sofa under baldachino.

To create different scenes we kept moving the furniture.  To have the studio look in the top images I selected a simple part of the room as a backdrop and used the light fall off between my subject and the background to create a little drama with the darker background.

The flash shots..

These pics were taken in a room with no natural light.

I set up my Nikon Nikon SB 910 on a Light Stand and I added my Gary Fong Diffuser
to the flash and pointed it directly at my subject, front on just slightly tilted down towards their faces. I used a set of Wireless Transmitters  to fire the flash.

All images were shot on my Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm Lens

In post-processing I added a vignette to these images in Photoshop.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of Parisian fun..

“Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world… Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.” Irving Penn




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Portrait Winner – Lisa Chiodo From Renovating Italy

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson

I feel as though I have known Lisa Chiodo for years.

We have been following each others blogs and lives since Italian Joy landed on the shelves in 2005.

Recently Lisa hit the road with her husband and children to go live a dream in Italy, renovate an old house and live a new life….and we get to live it vicariously through Renovating Italy.

Lisa’s name came out of the ‘cat’s biscuit dish draw’ at the same time as the beautiful Gabriella Pirisi’s name (you can see her shoot here) for a portrait in Paris with the whole sheebang including final edited files and fine art prints in a GORGEOUS linen box tied with a big, fat bow. On a whim I decided to give-away two portraits with the whole SHEEBANG…

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Lisa was a joy to shoot as was her daughter Carina.

I felt a great responsibility photographing Lisa after see her video and reading this post when she won. I wanted to enhance her natural beauty without changing her  relaxed style. I ask every woman I shoot to tell me a little bit about themselves and what they want to come out in the photos and Lisa’s 5 words kept running through my mind as I was shooting her..

“Freedom, Sensuality, Joy, Movement, Adventure”

 “I want photos full of laughter, movement and showing my spirit of adventure. I’d love something that anyone who knows me could say “YES that is Lisa”……for my children to see how I see myself rather than just nagging Mummy, tired Mummy, I want this for them to keep, to record me, that I lived, so that future generations, grandchildren, great grandchildren will get a sense of who I am from these images” 

So it was with these two beautiful women with a shining connection between them, on a beautiful sunny day in Paris and with these words we created these photos.

I hope it’s the ‘Lisa’ her friends and family know and love!! … Continue Reading

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Wild Child – A Private Portrait

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Private Portrait Copyright Carla Coulson

I loved this job! This gorgeous gal’s mum kindly gave her a portrait for her 20th birthday and we decided to celebrate all the emotions and feelings of being that age.

She wanted something modern and unfussy, simple and down to earth and surrounded by nature. Down along the Seine we found just the spot.

For me it was easy, being 20 felt like it was yesterday and it is so clear and bright in my memory and senses that feeling of being on the verge of something new, full of fun yet still innocent, willing to be a little crazy but still unsure of your sensuality and feeling free, so free.

Voila the beautiful Marine…

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson

Hair and make-up Veronique Marot

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.” Samuel Ullman

Wishing you the most fabulous day..


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What is your dream photography job?… Check out one of mine..

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson for Harper’s Bazaar

Gawd… After sunshine and blue skies on a Greek Island it’s hard to fly back into Paris to rain and 22 degrees but coming home to this story published in this months Australian Harper’s Bazaar made it all ok.

Have you ever asked yourself what your dream photography job (or one of them) would be? What ingredients you would throw into the recipe to make it just the way you wanted? Would it be fashion? Would it be portraiture? Would it be travel or a fabulous interior? Would their be dancing dogs and fairy floss?

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson for Harper’s Bazaar

I have asked myself this question often. Recently the phone rang with a fairy on the end of it (Harper’s Bazaar) and asked me whether I wanted to do one of my dream jobs?? I figured they must have hacked into my mind’s c-drive and pulled out all those delicious ingredients I had dreamed of, rolled them all together to form Carla’s dream job.

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson for Harper’s Bazaar

There would be a ramshackled Chateau, crumbling with paint peeling and faded ballrooms. A gorgeous woman and handsome hubby, there would be a stunning daughter and super cute son and BIG FROCKS with tulle and stuff! And there would be fashion pics and portraiture, interiors and exteriors and kookiness if I wanted it.

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson for Harper’s Bazaar

The reality turned out to be just like the dream. Everything they promised was there. The gorgeous Karina Waters of Chateau Gudanes  is not only a beauty but one of the nicest women I know and giggles a lot (bonus).  She and her hubby fell in love with this gorgeous pile in the midi-pyrenees and are in the process of renovating it.

Peeling wall paper still clings to the walls, hand-painted frescoes and beautiful balustrades guard the stairs and the music room is still adorned with gold. There were old tapestries waiting to go on the walls one day, glamorous French beds and pretty pink chairs.

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All photos copyright Carla Coulson for Harper’s Bazaar

So although I have been spoilt with jobs through out the years including many fashion jobs I truly loved with the heavenly Marta Innocenti Ciulli, this was another one to pop in my favourite memories hat. A favourite because I had the chance to use all the skills I have learnt throughout the years in fashion and interiors. Kind of like gobbling a whole box of Laduree macaroons out the front of the shop.

Another of my dream jobs will be sharing the skills I have learnt in fashion and portraiture this January 5,6,7,8  in Sydney at the Picture This Workshop where I will show you how to create emotion packed portraits with a fashion twist just like on these pages. All details here .

So if you are feeling stuck, trapped in a job you don’t like and want to acquire the skills to take your portraiture to the next step this workshop is designed to do exactly that.

What would your dream photography job be? What ingredients would you stir into it if you had the choice? I would love to hear your thoughts and dreams..

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman




PS: Please share with other dreamers

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Monica Bellucci Inspired Private Portrait

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

You may remember back in April I had a little give-away of a portrait shoot with moi in Paris? Well, it ended up being a tied draw as Avedon picked two names out of the hat (they were stuck together with his ‘croquettes’ kitty biscuits) and one of them was the fab Gabriella Pirisi.

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Gorgeous Gabriella packed up her life and headed to Paris a couple of years ago and dived head first in the sweet end. She has been studying to create those ridiculously gorgeous pastries that this city is reknowned for. You can find her on Facebook at Miss Pirisi – Patissiere

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When I asked Gabriella did she have any fashion icons or inspiration for her shoot her response was ‘Monica Bellucci’.. Ahh… One of my favourites..the prop gods must have heard our whispers and sent us crates full of sour cherries, preserved lemon and gherkins that we found lying around our location.

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So, gorgeous Gabriella channelled Monica Bellucci and I shot.

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Her warm, sweet and loveable nature oozes from every pore.

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Back to Monica…

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and the camellia’s were in bloom

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Giving Monica a run for her money..

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A quiet moment in the gorgeous ‘Contessa’s‘ vintage kimono she so generously gave me..

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I love this pic..

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

 And what would a photo shoot be without one barefoot dance pic!

A hugh round of applause to the stunning Gabriella for giving so much on the day and allowing me to share these photos with you..

Grazie ancora..

“Wherever I go, I am Italian. The way I talk, the way I eat, the way femininity is important to me. The way I love Italian food.” Monica Bellucci


PS: If you are interested in learning how to fuse portraiture with fashion and to create emotion packed portraits with an edge, you might enjoy the Picture This  Workshop this January 2015 in Sydney.. Last places available..

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