Category Archives: Portrait Inspiration

A Vermeer Inspired Portrait (and a 2 min studio)

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Photo Copyright Carla Coulson

When I landed back in Paris after the big, bright skies and colour of Australia something happened.

Everything about my world had changed. The light, the clothes, the skies, the surroundings, the colour palettes and I felt inspired to reach inside and take advantage of this feeling!

It inspired me to create moody images, beautiful soft portraits photographed with a slow shutter speed on black to replicate how I was feeling.

These photos were shot in a very simple way. I created a ‘2 min studio’ by using a black backdrop that you can see at the end of the post and a shutter speed of 1/15 second..

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2 Min Studio

We taped up a piece of black cloth perpendicular to the window and the light fall off between the cloth and my model did the rest.

If the window had been facing the cloth instead of perpendicular to it we would have had to have been careful with the cloth and what was underneath it as the light from the window would have illuminated the scene more evenly and shown all the defects.

Sending you lots of camera shake!

“My style is definitely schizophrenic; it does change from day to day a lot. It depends on my mood: sometimes I’ll be going through a girly, childlike stage and wear a pretty lace dress with a bow in my hair. Then sometimes I’ll be moody and just wear black.” Amber Le Bon

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Picture This Workshop – Colourfest

picture this workshop sydney 2015, mexican fiesta, frida kahlo fashion, purdy in bloom, carla coulson, pink walls, colour inspiration, portrait workshop, portrait inspiration Our Frida Kahlo inspired model copyright Carla Coulson and headpiece by Purdy in Bloom

I love heading to Sydney in the summer to be welcomed by Australia’s booming light, bright colours and sunny Australians.

What a joy it was to plan this year’s Picture This Workshop and an ever greater kick after all the planning to meet the fabulous photographers who joined me and my super team for 4 days of portraiture and photo talk.

This year we went nuts on the colour, rented a big, knock-out mansion in Vaucluse that had pink walls galore, a garden to break your heart and a beautiful pool and cabana. We couldn’t resist a little unadulterated colour and fun to go with it.

So many wonderful people collaborated on this workshop to make it happen including two experienced photographers who assisted me, ‘real people’ models, stylists, make-up artists, organisers (amazing job Ath) and caterers.

The wonderful Tanya Anic from Tanya Anic Bridal went all out and created the beautiful blue silk chiffon dress specially for the workshop (and we went wild shooting movement with this soft floaty fabric). And the lovely Sara Dobson from Purdy in Bloom created our fun coloured headpiece for our Mexican Fiesta theme and also lent us her beauty as one of the models.

Here are some happy snaps I took during the 2 days of shooting..

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carla coulson, picture this workshop sydney, mexican fiesta, colour inspiration, portrait workshop, portrait inspiration, pink walls, purdy in bloom Mexican Fiesta photos Copyright Carla Coulson Floral headpiece by Purdy in Bloom

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50’s retro inspired glam beach theme photos copyright Carla Coulson

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Blue silk chiffon dress designed by the talented Tanya Anic  Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

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Gorgeous Sara Dobson from Purdy in Bloom copyright Carla Coulson 

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Our gorgeous model Charlie and the team on the last day copyright Carla Coulson

It was a joy and honour to teach the photographers who travelled from around Australia and from America (love ya Lisa) and it made my photographers heart beat with happiness to have two male participants this year who were enthusiastic, fabulous and took great pics.

In four days all the photographers were shooting original, unique portraits with their own special slant on it and I walked away from another workshop smiling happily to myself.

There is no greater joy than giving a little of the ‘key to the city’ and seeing you take it and make it your own.

So to all the marvellous people that were a part of Picture This 2015 a huge thank-you from the bottom of my heart.

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Mark Van Doren

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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

Carla Coulson portrait Lisa Chiodo renovating italy paris

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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