Laura Reid, Sydney photographer, pools and beaches, summer photography

Carla’s Photography & Art Christmas Edit

Hello Glorious Creatives,

What a year! 2020 has been a year we will never forget, it has challenged us in so many ways and it has asked us to step out of our comfort zone and to embrace new possibilities.

Creativity has definitely been a winner on every front! Creativity has allowed us to go inwards, stretch ourselves, calm us, bring us joy and teach us a little more about ourselves.

2020 encouraged the following photographers and artists to find a whole new world of possibilities and discover a new version of themselves by launching their online shops. It’s my great pleasure to feature some of my favourite pieces in ‘Carla’s Photography & Art Christmas Edit‘,

This Christmas more than ever it’s important to buy local, support the individual, the family run business and bring back to our world the sense of community, connection, creativity and love that we all need to finish off 2020 with. When you buy small you give power to the people and that is a beautiful present in itself.

Drumroll please…

Loc Boyle, black and white photography, Photography fine art prints, Aerial Endeavours #7 by Loc Boyle

Aerial Endeavours #7 by Loc Boyle

The waiting has been worth it! For the past years, I’ve watched photographer Loc Boyle travel all over Europe, Asia, and Australia creating mind blowing works of art that celebrate form, bodies, and finding stillness in the chaos. I couldn’t wait for him to get them onto paper and this image is one I literally can’t take my eyes off. Every time I look at it, I find something new, get lost in the mastery of the photography required and the skill of the people who collaborated to create it. His work reminds me of Henri Cartier Bresson’s words, “There is a rhyme between different elements. There is a square here, rectangle and other rectangle…see its all these problems which I’m preoccupied with. The greatest joy for me is geometry that means a structure. You can’t go shooting for shapes for patterns and all this but its a sensuous pleasure, an intellectual pleasure at the same time to have everything at the right place. It’s a recognition of an order which is in front of you.” And no-one recognises and enjoys the order more than Loc. This piece is called Aerial Endeavours #7, and you can enjoy the sensuous pleasure of his work HERE.

 

Laura Reid, Sydney photographer, pools and beaches, summer photography, Sun Worship by Laura Reid

Sun Worship by Laura Reid

This photo of Laura Reid’s does something to my DNA. It’s a photo from my childhood, I could be one of those girls lying with my besties, catching the rays, talking about the boys we like and the shenanigans that happened the day before whilst  feeling the bliss of a summer’s day in our watery backyard. When I first saw Sun Worship, something moved inside of me and I wanted it on my walls! I love everything about it photographically, the lines, the composition and the feeling of enjoyment. We need more enjoyment in our lives and Laura is delivering it one swim at a time. Thanks to Laura for sharing her talent with us, you can browse her beauty HERE.

 

Jilly Bennett, Black and White Photography, Dogs Photography, Italy, France, Patience by Jilly Bennett

Patience by Jilly Bennett

Jilly Bennett and I go way back! Jilly has attended many of my photography workshops and she has certainly eclipsed the teacher!! Patience touched the deepest part of my heart when I first saw it and I wanted to reach into this photo and comfort this dog, give him a huge hug and take away those sad eyes and replace it with a giddy dog smile. Jilly is a ‘dog whisperer’ and I’ve had the joy of seeing her connect with dogs and dog owners all over Italy and France to produce work that even our hero, Elliott Erwitt would be proud of. If you love dogs, this holiday season you can knock yourself out trying to choose your favourite HERE.

 

laura horrocks, artwork, abstract art, colourful art, wall art, walls of love, Orange Crush by Laura Horrocks

Orange Crush by Laura Horrocks

Laura Horrocks’ work is that of a gentle, sweet sensitive soul who has her own vision of colour and shapes. Her work is this beautiful combination of whimsical, dainty and glorious naivety like someone you know but you’ve never found the words to describe them. Laura’s work is layered and tells stories that are gentle and bold. I love Orange Crush (always been an Orange fan) and am lucky to have a piece of Laura’s work tucked amongst my artwork at home. You can explore more of her work HERE.

 

Julia Lochhead, beach photography, New Zealand photographer, New Zealand, wanderlust, blurry photo, seascape

Wanderlust by Julia Lochhead

We know the world we live in is magical but often we are too busy to stop and pay attention to the beauty and wonder. Julia Lochhead is searching for something special in her giant seascapes, they hit BIG emotions deep within us of awe, love, calm, and wonder. When I first saw Wanderlust, it felt like a spiritual moment, like she had wrapped together heaven and earth and captured it forever for us to enjoy and remind us that if you dare to look for the beauty, it’s astonishing. Beauty can crack you open! You can dive into the calm and wonder of Julia’s WORK HERE.

 

Rachel Vogeleisen, Photography Fine Art Prints, Florence Photography, Italy, Black and White Photography, dancing in florence, fashion photo florence, ponte vecchio fashion,

Dancing in Florence by Rachel Vogeleisen

A woman after my own heart! What is there not to love about this photo. Florence, the Ponte Vecchio, a women lost in a beautiful moment in a glorious dress. Fine art photographer Rachel Vogeleisen has ticked so many boxes in this beautiful photo of a woman in Florence and a celebration of femininity, photography and Italy. I could look at Dancing in Florence for hours. Women are at the central theme of all of Rachel’s work and her deep love for art and photography is in every image. You can enjoy her elegant images HERE.

 

Bridget Malone, Venice By Bridge, Time to Clean House by Bridget Gleeson, Fine Art Prints, Venice Photography, Italy, photography fine art prints

Time to Clean House by Bridget Gleeson

I stopped scrolling the first time I saw Bridget Gleeson’s image, Time to Clean House! It literally stopped me in my tracks. I’ve loved photographing washing since the day I stepped off a plane onto Italian soil and I even managed to make an entire subject out of it in my book, Italian Joy. But this shot of Bridget’s takes my favourite subject to new heights. The shape of the window, the colour coordinated pastel tea towels (can you believe it), and the poetry of something so simple becoming an image that you want in your life for it’s sheer beauty. Bridget keeps the Italian hearth warm for all of us through her appreciation of Venice as a beautiful crumbling mess and although we can’t visit right now, we can through her beautiful images. Enjoy more of Bridget’s work HERE.

 

Karen Alderson, flower photography, photography fine art prints, Queen of Summer by Karen Alderson, flowers, dahlia arrangement, cafe dahlia, pastel flowers, dahlia photo

Queen of Summer by Karen Alderson

Karen Alderson’s image, titled Queen of Summer, reminds me of an old masters flower painting. You have to have a second look to see if it’s a photo or a painting? A flower lover from way back, this image struck me with it’s gentleness, romanticism, well thought out use of colour and proportion. It’s not a happy accident!!  Karen is a florist as well as a talented photographer and has combined her two skills to create a beautiful body of work. For those of you who can’t find your favourite Cafe au lait Dahlia’s each week, you’ll love having this feminine image on your wall. More of Karen’s wonderful work HERE.

 

Millie Brown, scenic photography, Into the Wild, Australia Photography, Photography Fine Art Print, Mountain Stream by Millie Brown

Mountain Stream by Millie Brown

I’ve long admired the work, eye, and passion of photographer Millie Brown. Millie has a big heart and just as big a talent and is shining a light on the subjects she deeply cares about such as the wilderness, travel, indigenous cultures and our ecology. Millie is an award-winning photographer, who works with many of Australia’s best magazines and her image Mountain Stream is part of her beautiful Cradle Mountain series. I find it hard to choose one from her series because they remind me of this big, wild country where I was born and have roamed most of my life. If I can’t live in the wilderness, I want it on my walls and Mountain Stream and its beautiful colours, catapult me straight there. Check out more of Millie’s beautiful work HERE.

 

Rachael Kane, beach photography, photography fine art print, Australia photography, photography fine art prints, surfers, Byron Bay Sunset by Rachael Kane

Byron Bay Sunset by Rachael Kane

Rachael Kane is one of those talented quiet achievers who surprises you at every turn. Rachael is fascinated by the world above and people at play in the environment. This magical photo titled Byron Bay Sunset, feels like she has taken the simple pleasure of a day surfing, dusted it with a colour palette of silvery blues and created an iconic photo of how Australian’s live. You want to blow it up as big as you can so no matter where you are in the room, there you are on the top of a wave. You can check out more of Rachael’s Aerial photography HERE.

 

Bonnie Malone, Greece Photography, travel photography, Oia, Snatorini, Greece, photography fine art prints, Meet Me in Santorini by Bonnie Malone

Meet Me in Santorini by Bonnie Malone

Bonnie Malone photographs the small details as well as the big landscapes on her travels. I love her work. Bonnie takes that romantic heart and eye of hers and finds the sweetest elements and moments from her travels. I’ve been to Greece for the past 10 years, I’m a mega fan but this beautiful landscape of Bonnie’s image, Meet Me in Santorini, stopped me scrolling. There is so much to enjoy in this photograph, the colours, the light, the architecture, the setting on top of Santorini and that feeling of ‘pleasure’ comes through in all her work. Pleasure is one of the most important things we can allow ourselves to have and I adore that her work is infused with it. Lucky us! You can check out more of Bonnie Malone’s work HERE.

 

Jennene Greenall, beach photography, Space by Jennene Greenall, blurry photo, seascape

Space by Jennene Greenall

Jennene Greenall is a quiet achiever. She quietly goes about her creativity and life without making a big fuss, she leaves that to her images!! Her work touched me the first time I met her on a workshop. Jennene takes everything she believes and rolls them together to express her vision through her work. ‘Space’ is one of those images that you want in your life for many reasons including the sensation of space it gives you even when you are in an enclosed room. Jennene cleverly creates space for us visually but also internally, we have the sensation we can breathe, we are free and all is as it should be. You can see Space here and many others.

 

Danielle Greentree, Travel A Little Luxe, Atrani beach, beach photography, travel photography, Italy, Amalfi Coast, An Afternoon in Atrani by Danielle Greentree

An Afternoon in Atrani by Danielle Greentree

I know a photo has touched me when it stops me doing what I’m doing and take note. ‘An Afternoon in Atrani‘ by Danielle Greentree did exactly that. This is a scene I know really well but Danielle has put her own special twist on it, photographing in the ‘end of day splendour’ that conjours up nostalgia, peace and the retro beauty of the Amalfi Coast. I want to be the girl in the white dress with her feet in the water walking towards Atrani to meet Francesco for an Aperol spritz! So beautifully captured with the emotional connection I love. More of her beautiful work HERE.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little Christmas edit from this talented group of photographers and artists.

Happy holidays, my lovely friend!

Carla XXX

Susan Papazian Photography, Carla Coulson, Women In Focus

Design A Life Full of Possibilities

Susan Papazian Photography, Carla Coulson, Women In Focus

Photo Copyright by Susan Papazian

 

Dear Lovelies,

I’m so delighted to share with you this interview I did with the lovely Susan Papazian:

 

If anyone truly understands the power to change, to design a life full of possibilities, it’s Carla Coulson.

 

Carla says the biggest obstacle of her life was the first 35 years. Running a business that didn’t fuel her passion left her emotionally depleted and longing for adventure and connection. Who knew all those years ago saying YES to herself would lay the foundation to her stellar career as a Paris based photographer and publisher of 8 books with Penguin and hundreds of feature articles in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Gourmet Traveller and Collezioni.

Today, Carla calls Paris her home and spends most of her time working as a creative life coach, helping women all around the world to reconnect to their creativity, passion, personal power and purpose. And it doesn’t always have to be grand and world-changing, Carla says. It just has to bring deep personal satisfaction to you.

Read on as Carla talks about love, joy and how creativity has given her the opportunity to connect with herself and the army of women who are also saying YES.

Over to you Carla…

Your job can be driven by results and outcomes. Your work is your legacy. How do we find value in our work, rather than in our job?

My advice is always do something that brings you joy or where you feel a sense of true purpose and deep satisfaction. There is a lot written about doing what you love and I have had the fortune to do that in both my photography and coaching careers, ultimately if you have a strong sense of creating something worthwhile, serving a group of people whose lives will be impacted by your work, that brings an immense satisfaction that never feels like a job. It’s like mainlining life, you feel like you have a reason for being on this planet and everything becomes clear. You have a deep sense of belonging, to yourself, to the community and to this glorious planet. Life feels good.

What were your obstacles, setbacks, triumphs or joys in your road to defining your work? 

I think the biggest obstacle for me was the first 35 years! Not having any true guidance or tools to understand what it was that I liked or how I could design a life and go make it happen. The idea that I could co-create my life, have a true purpose that I was deeply connected to, was foreign to me. Like many people I started figuring it out when big life problems started happening that I could no longer ignore. I thank the obstacles, the setbacks for pushing me out of my comfort zone, causing me sometimes to break down so I was forced to change how I did things. I now love adversity because I know there is a chance for growth.

The first greatest joy was when I said yes to myself and I said no to the way I was living and had the courage to walk away from a comfortable life to go find the right life for me. For the first time I started asking myself what was it that I liked or what could a new path look like? Then I allowed myself the luxury to go and check it out. The joys have been numerous, moving to Italy and Paris, becoming a photography, gaining self-love and self-esteem, realising you alway have space for new friends and love, life can begin again in a heartbeat, making a life being on the road, feeling alive and seeing other people’s lives influenced by that is an immeasurable joy. That we are all connected.

 

Read the rest of the interview at Susan Papazian’s Blog here.

 

You can check out Susan’s amazing work at her site and give her a follow on Instagram.

Carla x

 

Free and Fearless, Carla Coulson Limited Edition Fine Art Print, Young Girl in Bloom, floral photography, flowers, pink hydrangeas, hydrangea bouquet, pink flowers, pink, Carla Coulson, Paris flowers

Free and Fearless – Pink Hydrangea Bouquet

Free and Fearless, Carla Coulson Limited Edition Fine Art Print, Young Girl in Bloom, floral photography, flowers, pink hydrangeas, hydrangea bouquet, pink flowers, pink, Carla Coulson, Paris flowers

Dear Lovelies,

I want you to meet my latest Young Girl in Bloom — she’s what the world needs right now, a giant delirious pink bouquet of hydrangeas and positivity!!!! Her name is Free and Fearless. This girl has a skip in her step because she is free, she has walked away from things that held her back and has stepped out of her own invisible prison. She knows the only person that can truly hold her back in life is herself.

Saying yes to yourself is the ultimate freedom. You always have a choice and when you feel truly free you feel fearless. This girl was created to remind you that freedom is your divine right, you are born free, you are free and it’s always just one decision away. Free yourself!

I hope you enjoy this pink hydrangea bomb that was created in one of my favourite streets in Paris for you to enjoy, even if you can’t travel there for a little while. She is available via my online shop at this link and via the divine peeps at Forman Art and Framing for orders in Australia.

Sending love,

Carla x

Dreams Into Reality: Venice, A Beautiful Crumbling Mess

Photo Copyright by Bridget Gleeson

Dreams Into Reality, Bridget Gleeson, Venice By Bridge, Italy Photography, Venice, Italy, Inspiring Lives

Photo Copyright by Corrina Tough

Dear Lovely folks,

Beautiful Bridget Gleeson is today’s inspiration, she took her dream and turned it into reality, not once but twice. 

Some of us wait the best part of our lives to take a step in the direction of our heart’s desires and often it means unlearning a lifetime of ‘shoulds’. It takes courage to follow your dreams because often you are going against a lifetime of doing things a certain way but that didn’t stop Bridget Gleeson at almost 60 moving from New York to Venice. 

‘Our’ Bridget , (I say our because when a woman takes such a brave move she changes the lives of all of us) today made a second dream a reality, taking her beautiful heartfelt photos of Venice and sharing them with the world in her shop. I’m the happiest woman on the planet to celebrate this moment and know that those of you who love Venice and haven’t been able to travel this year, will love nothing better than having your favourite city on your walls, made with love and care from a woman who dared to live her dream.

Over to you Bridget…

 

In the past couple of years, what belief or habit has allowed you to move to Venice and start a new life at nearly 60?

I think it all started when I began to change my belief from I should have done this move 10, 20 years ago, this dream had passed me by, to the real truth of the matter. Simply put, it’s really never too late, you get to write the story of your life, nobody else. It’s up to you. Believing that can be very hard at times, yes. But once I began to think about it that way, so many new ideas and opportunities start to show up in my life. It was a whole new way to look at my dream, like a riddle to solve. A test of how can I make this happen? A good bit of blind faith and “what’s the worst thing that could happen” didn’t hurt either! I also started at that time the habit of starting to do one small thing every day, or sometimes every week, to keep the dream alive and moving forward. Small changes and habits over time have a cumulative effect, and can really make things happen for you. That was tough for me because I’m typically a 0-60 kind of girl, and often with no patience! I think knowing that 60 was not too far around the corner gave me that extra nudge. I’d read or heard about other woman who were doing the same thing, making a dream come true in their 50’s, 60’s and beyond and I thought, “Why not me?”

You have an exciting new project sharing your beautiful photos with the world. What happened during 2020 and the Covid pandemic that encouraged you to bring this to life?

When we first arrived in the summer of 2019, Venice was warm, sunny, and packed to the gills with people! We were busy settling in and seeing friends and doing a bit of travel and just getting situated. It was a busy fun time, but not much time for my creativity other than a fabulous photography retreat in Puglia in the autumn. Venice 2020, and Italy for that matter, was a whole different time, sadly enough. The quiet of lockdown gave me the time to really think about things, and life in general. When we were finally allowed to wander more than 200 meters from our apartment, there was literally no one around. Aside from the markets and stores, there were very few people here. In that void of people and tourists, and as we went to do errands or walk our dog, I started to notice things I hadn’t before. That’s when my camera came into play. I started to take it with me everywhere, and see Venice through its lens. Photography shows you how to slow down to the moment of what’s right in front of you. Without the crushing crowds, I started to see the beauty of Venice everywhere, and it was incredible. Then as I started to share more on Instagram, people began asking about my photos and the seed was planted.

Dreams Into Reality, Bridget Gleeson, Venice By Bridge, Italy Photography, Venice, Italy, Inspiring Lives

Photo Copyright by Bridget Gleeson

How has creativity influenced your life and your relationship with yourself and others?

Finding this new creative outlet has let me quiet down my busy, hyper brain and catch my breath. It’s made me appreciate the small details. It’s my new daily gratitude list, but in photos, which I love. My life here made me start to dream of different ideas, and this brand new project comes from my love of Venice, but really wanting to share the beauty of the entire city. Especially in 2020, when so many miss La Serenissima and Italy and are counting the days until they can return. I completely understand that longing. I’ve met many wonderful, talented good-hearted people doing beautiful things with their life and creativity, and sharing it on Instagram. The friendships and the spark of creativity I get when I see all these brilliant ideas come to life, what a gift it has been!

Dreams Into Reality, Bridget Gleeson, Venice By Bridge, Italy Photography, Venice, Italy, Inspiring Lives

Photo Copyright by Bridget Gleeson

Share with us the meaning behind your series Beautiful Crumbling Mess?

This first series in my new print shop came about one afternoon while I was looking at my photos, I realized I had very few shots of the places people typically want to see when they check off all the boxes. I completely understand that, but Venice is found in the small Campos and narrow calles too. Venice is 16 centuries old, can you imagine?

So in some places, it feels like the city is crumbling down around us, bit by slow bit. It certainly felt that way last autumn after the disastrous grande aqua and the subsequent flooding. Yet, there was still an overwhelming sense of beauty in that crumbling mess—the red-brownish colors of the endless brick, next to the changing hues of green in the canal. The tiny delicate flowers in the cracks, and the flowing vines, wrapped and entwined in the exquisite ironwork you find all over the city above doors and guarding windows.

I want people to see the beauty in all of it, and then find the beauty in their own lives, where it may now be hard to uncover and see. It’s a series that reflects beauty, but also persistence and determination. It must take a bit of toughness for those small shoots to poke thru the brick and flower! I chose to believe we can all show up to bloom again, to embrace your crumbling mess, at whatever age, and to own your story.

Dreams Into Reality, Bridget Gleeson, Venice By Bridge, Italy Photography, Venice, Italy, Inspiring Lives

Photo Copyright by Bridget Gleeson

I imagined during this process of moving from New York to Venice and starting a new life, you often felt scared, overwhelmed or confused. What did you do to keep moving forward and believing in what you were doing?

Moving is stressful, right? I’d moved overseas before with my husband, but it was a corporate move; somebody else was in charge! This time, we were on our own! There was self-doubt, oh god, what have we done, overwhelmed by all the things and yes, confusion. I just kept thinking about what I wanted, and that kept the doubt for the most part away. I also had a strong memory of the last time we were in Venice, which had only been several months before. We’d been going to Venice on holiday for a long time. Each time for a little longer and when we lived in Switzerland, several times a year. The last time we went, we stayed a month. On our last night, after an evening shared with friends, we were crossing over the Accademia Bridge on a cold clear January evening the crystal clear. The city surrounding the Grand Canal looked dreamlike, as it often does in the winter months. I stopped to take it in and suddenly felt overwhelmed by emotion.

I started to cry a bit, and my husband asked me, “What’s this all about, are you okay?” (He knows how sentimental I am, and, well, the Accademia Bridge will do that to you.) I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t want to leave. It’s almost like I can’t leave. Next time we come to Venice, we’re coming for good.’’ I wiped my tears, sighed, and we slowly walked back to the apartment we were staying. I took in every last sight one last time before we headed back to New York City in the early morning.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying be careful what you wish for, well, I have to say it’s true! Within six months of sending that proclamation to the universe into that winter sky, we found ourselves living in Venice.

Dreams Into Reality, Bridget Gleeson, Venice By Bridge, Italy Photography, Venice, Italy, Inspiring Lives

Photo Copyright by Bridget Gleeson

What would be one tool, habit or piece of advice you would give to another women approaching her sixties that wanted to take a leap of faith?

Leap! Have 100% faith in yourself, know that you can do whatever you set your mind to. I’ve learned in the last few years how incredibly important mindset is. What you say you can or cannot do is how things will turn out. That said, I think it’s so important to find other people to support you in whatever it is you want to do. My photography and this project would have never come to life if I hadn’t had a group of wonderful, kind, smart encouraging women supporting me along the way! It’s also so much more fun than doing it on your own. I do believe it’s important to think about what you want, what’s your big why? Do your research, be prepared like a good scout, and then go do whatever it is you want to do with your beautiful messy life. It’s waiting for you, trust me on that.

 

Thank you Bridget for sharing your inspiring journey with us!

You can check out Bridget’s wonderful work here at her newly launched online shop.

Follow her on Instagram.

 

Carla x

Jilly Bennett, Dolce Vita Dogs, dogs of Italy, black and white

Dreams Into Reality: You are Never Too Old to Dream Another Dream

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, France, Italy

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, dogs of Italy

Dear Lovely Friends,

You are never too old to dream another dream.

About 6 years ago, a delightful English lady who has lived in the South of France forever, Jilly Bennett, attended my photography workshop in Puglia.

Jilly was in her late 70’s and we all fell instantly in love with her energy, sense of humour and joy for life, and all the escapades she has had in her life.

Jilly was and is dog obsessed; on the first photography workshop, whenever we turned around, there was Jilly down on the ground taking photos of dogs, chatting with Italians in who knows what language (dog), and running around like a delighted teenager in Martina Franca capturing the hearts of dogs and dog owners. 

Over the years, this heavenly woman who has passed her 80th year kept taking photos, attending workshops, and winning photography prizes. 

Last week, she has given the world a gift 🎁, she is sharing her beautiful photographs with the world in a fine art shop and I believe even legendary dog photographer #elliotterwitt would be admiring them!

Her work is moving, touching, funny… sometimes it will break your heart and other times it will make you laugh out aloud!!

I’m so excited to call a couple of her prints mine and get ready friends, guess what you are getting for Christmas!!

Over to Jilly!

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, dogs of Italy

Whilst most people at your age are wearing slippers and watching TV, what motivated you to become a photographer and start photographing dogs?

The motivation was simply that I was so entranced with the Mediterranean way of life I saw around me that I simply had to share it with others and because I cared for other people’s dogs in my home as well as the dogs, I am lucky enough to adopt, it was natural to include dogs as well. For years, I had one of the top-winning kennels of Old English sheepdogs in the UK and judged all over the world, so dogs have always been my ‘everything.’ Now, no more show dogs but always a rescue dog. Yes, we rescue them but we all know that it is really they who rescue us. It seems to me a perfect arrangement.

It took a long time to learn the techniques of using a camera (still learning) which I did with YouTube videos, the help of friends and taking thousands and thousands of not-very-good photos but that’s how we learn. I looked at the beautiful work of the great masters: Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Willy Ronis – black and white grainy photos that look like they should be in a Paris Noir classic film. And my idol in dog photography is Elliott Erwitt – the humor, the pathos in his images makes me laugh out loud or really touches me.

And then, Carla, I found your first book, Italian Joy, and suddenly I realized what photography could be. Here was that wonderful grainy photography I loved but with every image loaded with emotion. Every photograph told a story of Italy, of life, of love. This was a revelation to me. Now, with my passion for dogs and love of everything French and Italian, I had a direction! That book has been my bible ever since and made me realize I wanted to learn how to do this. I found you online and will never forget the day you left a comment on one of my photos – I danced around the room that day! Later, as you know, I’ve had the joy of attending many of your photography workshops where I did indeed learn and grow and gain confidence, not to mention making lifelong friendships with fellow students.

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, dogs of Italy

How has photographing dogs influenced your life, travels and relationships?

It changed my life – corny but true. We all need an outlet for our creativity and photography gave me that. It gave me a life of French friends as well as English-speaking ones. There is no better way to integrate into a country where you speak a different language than to have a shared interest and I’m so lucky to count many local photographers as friends. I started exhibiting, entering competitions, and was fortunate to have some success. I’m on the committee of the Festival of PhotoMenton. I travelled all over Italy and the south of France for the pleasure of photographing dogs but it’s also pretty nice to enjoy an Aperol spritz and a plate of Paccheri al Forno with new friends, usually with a dog under the table, at the end of the day. And who can resist those fabulous cobblestones in Rome and the chaos and total joy of life in Naples?

What is it you are looking for in a photo or what makes a photo great for you?

Emotion, emotion, emotion. It’s that connection between a dog and its human. Sometimes it might be the connection a dog has with another dog but it is always an emotion, perhaps funny, perhaps touching.

At 80, not only have you mastered photography but you have tackled so many complex programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, blogs, Instagram and Shopify. What tip would you give to someone who avoids taking a step towards something they are curious about because of technology?

Nowadays there is so much help available in everything and anything online. YouTube videos are brilliant. Adobe has excellent teaching videos on Lightroom and Photoshop aimed at every level of expertise from total beginner onwards. Remember ‘Google is your friend’ but you need to phrase your questions in a concise, specific way. I ask Google how to do things all the time! And importantly if you have a bad memory like me, write every single step down and refer to that until it becomes automatic. And ask for help! People are kind. People love to help. Don’t be scared of technology as it is so exciting. But get help when you need it.

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, dogs of Italy

What would be one tool, habit or piece of advice you would give to another women 60+ that wanted to take a creative leap of faith?

First of all, and this is a tough way to look at it, but think about life 20 years down the line. Do you want to be thinking ‘I wish I’d done that, I wish I’d had a go!’ So first explore your subject and learn. Buy books on the field of creativity you are interested in, watch videos online, enroll in workshops, where you will learn and importantly meet like-minded souls so that you support each other in your creative progress. At the moment, because of Covid, workshops are mostly only online but that works too. I have recently been creating my shop because I enrolled in Carla’s brilliant ‘Walls of Love’ workshop – months and months of work and the fellow artists and photographers I have met on Zoom are now friends for life. We help and encourage each other and share our ups and downs. This is so important. Don’t be shy, just do it. Success or failure doesn’t matter, it’s the act of doing, the fun of doing, that matters. Personally, I have always found it harder to say no to an opportunity as I always think of what I might have missed. The road less travelled is the right road. Just do it!

Getting older gives us such freedom. Ladies, we are not dressing up for men any more! Children are grown, we have the time to dive into our dream. We only have one life. What is the worst that can happen? I can tell you. The worst is that you didn’t give it a go! The best is that you took that leap of faith et voila! a whole new world opened up for you and chances are it won’t be the one you expected but something even more exciting.

Jilly Bennet, black and white photography, dog photography, dogs of Italy

What has photography taught you?

Compassion, for starters. As we develop an eye for photography, we are learning to really ‘see’ not just ‘look’ and so by taking a photo of an old person (I forget I’m that too!) I realise how much I have to learn by chatting to that old lady in the village. Perhaps she barely went to school but, believe me, she knows what really matters in life as I see her interacting with her grandchildren, watch her kindness to everyone and also glory in how much she laughs.

Photography also taught me I am creative being, it taught me to have confidence in my ability, it taught me to trust friendships and to know I’m loved. All this thanks to photography which is pretty big time in my book. And beautiful Carla, most of all, thank you for being my inspiration, mentor and friend for all these years. But for you…

 

You can check out Jilly’s work here and say hello on her Instagram or Facebook.

Biggest love to Jilly for showing us how to do life…

Carla xx

Your Dreams are Valid!

If you are 40, 50 or 60+, you are the perfect age to bring what you want into your life.

How do I know?