Category Archives: Portraiture Tips

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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Are Your Photos of Movement a Disaster?

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Kerrie Hess shot at 1/640 second on F4 copyright Carla Coulson

Do you love photos of movement but struggle with the technical side? Are your images too blurry when you don’t want them to be? Out of focus? Too frozen or there is too much camera shake?

I too love shooting movement especially people. It’s a big part of how I take portraits and create emotion so today I want to share a couple of tips.

1.  Depth of Field – So once you get someone moving such as walking or running they are generally moving in a range from a couple of metres to who knows where! To make sure they will be within your depth of field (the distance in focus as the camera sees it) choose an F-Stop such as F-11 or F16 (the higher the numbers the more depth of field).. This will give you a really wide depth of field from your focal point to infinity (i.e. lots of distance in focus). You will see in the above shot the F-Stop is F4, I wouldn’t recommend this if you are just starting out as the depth of field is very shallow. You can read more about depth of field here

2. Shutter Speed – This is your creative choice.  Your choice of shutter speed will depend on how fast your subject is moving,  whether you want a little movement blur or the movement to be absolutely frozen. In the above shot I have chosen a fast speed of 1/640 second as I wanted the movement frozen but as she was running I still have a little movement blur which I love. If I had wanted no movement blur I could have chosen a shutter speed of 1/2000 second. The slower the shutter speed i.e. 1/30 second the more movement blur, the higher the shutter speed such as 1/2000 second the more your movement will be frozen. More on shutter speeds here

3. ISO – Ok now you need to select an ISO that matches your above requirements. Dial up or down depending on your light conditions. The above shot was taken in mid-winter in Paris on a really low lit day. I had to go up to an ISO of 2000 to allow for a high shutter speed and that’s why I ended up using an F4 as I didn’t want to go any higher. As I mentioned above I recommend more depth of field when starting out. You can read more about ISO here

As movement is one of the key elements I use to create emotion in images and it is a technique I use everyday in my photography it will be a big subject at my Picture This Workshop along with many other of my shooting techniques and secrets.

If you feel blocked with how you are currently taking portraits, want to get out from behind the desk and get behind the camera or take steps forward to making photography a career you might like to join me and a great group of photographers at the Picture This Workshop in Sydney January 5,6,7,8 2015. It’s going to be a hoot! Last Places left..

If you have any questions about shooting movement leave me a message in the comments below and I will be sure to get back to you.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs

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Please share with others struggling with blurry pics!

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

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PS: Please share with other dreamers

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

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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..

The Artist’s Muse(s) – A Private Portrait Shoot in Paris

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Do you have a friend that you have known since childhood?

With whom you literally grew up with, shared your inner most hopes, fears and dreams with and together laughed your hearts out over the silliest things?

I have the great fortune to know this feeling, to have had a ‘bestie’ since childhood with whom I still talk to a couple of times a week and we still laugh about the things we did when we were twelve and trade secrets knowing they will remain in our childhood vault . Love ya Ath.

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When the beautiful Emily (in the black dress below) arrived with her lifelong friend Oliva dragging enormous suitcases and laughing their heads off it reminded me what a gift it is in life to have a friend.

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Sweet Emily, as a surprise for Olivia’s wedding, offered a fun shoot together and for me it was a photographer’s dream. Two gorgeous gals with  heavenly wardrobes, a shoe collection that would have any Christian Louboutin fan gasping for air and a dream Parisian artist’s atelier just the way you always imagined it would be.

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The atelier loved the girls and the girls loved the atelier! It was a match made in heaven..

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Olivia in one of her to-die-for outfits, she picked up the lace collar in a flea market in St. Remy..

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Too cute.

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For those who love vintage pieces, you will understand that there are some purchases that are totally impractical, you know you will probably never wear them but you just can’t walk out of the shop without them.  This antique wedding dress and the beautiful stool finally met again after all those years!

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Divine..

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There are days as a photographer when you feel things come too easily, this was one of them. It was as though the artist’s atelier and the flowering camellia tree just needed the gorgeous Em in a black dress with a perfect red lip and a high ponytail to complete the pic.

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Liv Tyler move on over..

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Or should I say Demi Moore..

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Whilst it poured outside floor to ceiling glass windows saved the (photographers) day..

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From the outside looking in…

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Heavenly Em..

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Ohhh and every girl needs at least one Helmut Newton inspired pic with their bestie for the archives..

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or two..

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love this..

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and this..

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Olivia..

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and that skirt!

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So lucky to have shared this day and the joy of these two great girls..

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Ohh and every gal when they are old and grey needs a photo like this (with bunny ears piggy backing their best friend) to remind them how it felt to be young and share the priceless gift of friendship.

Love you gals!!

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

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Share the joy. xx

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