Blog - Carla Coulson
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My Photography ‘Gap’ Year That Became My Calling

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Left: Palermo; Right: Ballero market, Palermo | Copyright Carla Coulson

 

Dear Creative Souls,

I am having the best time with a great bunch of women who are saying Yes to themselves in my Yes, Yes, Yes – The Year You Say Yes To Yourself online course.

There are all sorts of marvellous souls bringing what is important to them into their life and it is such a joy to see these different things come to life.

One of the gorgeous ladies coined this phrase for her year of creativity and travel, she calls it her ‘Gap Year’. I loved it instantly, the name often used for teenagers having a break from studies to go out and experience life, let their hair down and have fun. Who says it’s only for teenagers?

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Procession Ischia | Copyright Carla Coulson

I remembered back to my ‘Gap Year’ back in 2000 (although I didn’t call it at the time) that led me to Florence and photography and I thought of all the amazing sensations that year brought me.

Finally, time, peace and ease in my life with a giant dose of adventure, friendship, curiosity, travel, the search for knowledge and feeling of being inspired by every day.

This Gap Year led me to photography and whilst doing a little de-cluttering the other day I opened one of my boxes of photos I printed in my first year of photography school in Florence and it felt like a treasure trove of memories.

I hardly knew what I was doing but I can see the excitement, wonder, joy of travel and trying to capture what I saw on those old prints. Often I ‘failed’ at what I was trying to achieve, going out with a friend at night onto the streets of Florence and trying something a little Helmut Newton-like yet not managing to get the picture in focus or having the shutter speed on the right setting (is there one?) and getting a little too much blur.

But it was these failures that taught me the most about photography, myself and often what I liked! It was this willingness to play, to try, to experiment that brought so much fun, joy and creativity. Some of my failures led me to my style and vision that I still see cropping up in my photos today.

Photography workshop Italy, black and white photography, life photography, reportage photography, Carla Coulson, fashion photography, vespa, ischia, Palermo, markets Italy, portrait workshop, portrait workshop Italy, Paris photographer, Florence

Left: Jill on the streets of Florence; Right: Jessica in Popi’s bathroom | Copyright Carla Coulson

Photography coaxed me to get on a 24-hour train to Palermo and fossick around a market on my own, it led me to a religious procession on Ischia and walking the streets trying to capture the rich street life.

The photographs I took of my flat-mates in Popi’s bathroom would one day lead me to shoot for Collezioni and Harper’s Bazaar, the shots of markets all over Italy to shooting for Gourmet Traveller and Vogue Entertaining and Living.

Photography is my calling, I do it every day even if it is with an I-phone I am looking, feeling and seeing life in the moment.

Photography workshop Italy, black and white photography, life photography, reportage photography, Carla Coulson, fashion photography, vespa, ischia, Palermo, markets Italy, portrait workshop, portrait workshop Italy, Paris photographer, Florence

Left: Vespa, Naples; Right: Boulder Kalgoorlie Australia | Copyright Carla Coulson

I really enjoyed this podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert the other day and I think you might too, it’s about the difference between a hobby, job, career and vocation.

So many people think if you love something you ‘have’ to make money from it but I agree wholeheartedly with Liz Gilbert, if you love something as much as I love photography just doing it is your greatest pleasure.

My Gap Year where it was just my camera and me, was one of the greatest years of my life, it was my best friend, my travelling partner, my teacher and my source of joy and inspiration. Some friends you don’t need to make money from!!!

Photography workshop Italy, black and white photography, life photography, reportage photography, Carla Coulson, fashion photography, vespa, ischia, Palermo, markets Italy, portrait workshop, portrait workshop Italy, Paris photographer, Florence

Collezioni | Copyright Carla Coulson

May we all grant ourselves a Gap Year one day in our lives or at least give yourself permission to do something creative you love for the pure pleasure of it – no pressure, no outcomes just joy.

Love and light,

Carla

P.S. You can join the list for Yes, Yes, Yes next year HERE.

International Women’s Day – Remember Who You Are

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Dear Ladies,

What a joy it is to write to you on this beautiful day to celebrate women. Women rock!!

We are part of an ancient order that sometimes we need to remember. An order that has the beat of life in her heart and dance and music in her soul.

Let’s face it, we rarely give ourselves a pat on the back, we often put everybody before ourselves and still do it with love. Mother’s juggle numerous personalities in a family often going without and balance the hundreds of tasks each day that it would take a team to do.

Today I wanted to encourage you to remember who you are, the feminine things that reside deep within us, that are often considered weak but are in fact our strengths. You are a marvellous, beautiful being that has the power to create whatever it is in your life you desire.

Let’s go:

Sisterhood – The bond between women is priceless. Between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, aunts and nieces, old souls and strangers and women whose souls speak to ours. The ‘knitting circle’ or ‘fire-side’ chats of women, are the thing that preserve traditions, stories and ways of doing things. The stories and love we share as women are the things that gets us through the difficult moments, they mend broken hearts, are the starting point to healing deep tragedy and are a place of pure joy where we laugh till we cry. Sisterhood is the best medicine on the planet.

Emotions – Oh yeah those emotions are rudders, antennas and x-ray machines. Your emotions should be celebrated because it means you FEEL something. When you feel something you are connected to the most powerful force on earth, life. They are a way of showing on the outside what is going on in your heart. Hallelujah!

Intuition– Yes, girls if you use your emotions like a sat-nav they will guide you through life, telling you which road to take, which boyfriend to say YES to and when to run as fast as you can. It will give you access to your personal superhighway of information that you can’t get from a book, magazine or encyclopedia. Yabba dabba doo for our intuition!!

Compassion/Empathy– Now ladies, the fact you can put yourself in the emotional shoes of someone else is like having a handful of kryptonite in front of Superman. Having the capacity to FEEL how someone else feels give you so much more information about that person and their situation and you are no longer just making decisions using one power, logic. Opera bow!

Creativity – Women create the miracle of life, they give birth to new and beautiful beings every day and it still blows my mind everytime I see a woman pregnant. I stop in awe at the enormity of what is happening right there in front of my eyes, that is life being made in real time. Women’s creativity is endless and I believe we are truly in ourselves when we are creating, whatever that may be. Taking a photo, dancing, drawing, painting, baking a cake, setting a table, embroidering, designing a house, carving a chair or singing a song. Go girls!

Ability to evolve– Maybe it is the fact that women are the gatekeepers of life that we have the ability to keep evolving, moving and changing with life. Women find it easier to accept change and it is a gift handed down over the centuries so that life keeps on keeping on. I’ll boogie to that!!

So my beautiful sisters, on this special day of the year, stop and pause and remember who you are.

Take some time out to light a candle for yourself, for the women in your lives that you love and cherish, for the women who we may not know yet or reside on the other side of the planet but we are connected through this beautiful shared gift of being a woman

Thank-you for being part of my life.

Carla xx

 

 

5 Ways Photography Can Change Your Life

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Dear Photography Enthusiasts,

There are many wonderful things I see when women find their way to photography and these are some of my favourites.

I can see it in their eyes, they are a little more ALIVE than the day before, I can hear the EXCITEMENT in the timbre in their voice when they talk about the images they have just taken and they can’t get the words out quick enough about the people they have just met.  I see it in their stance, as their craft improves, so does their CONFIDENCE in themselves, I can see it in their ENERGY as they whizz out the door to go get some more of that photography ‘juice’ of goodness they have just imbibed on.

I have seen it hundreds of times from the women (and men) who have made their way to my workshops, that once they have drunk the photography ‘koolaid’, they and their life will be never the same. They get connected to themselves, life, creativity, learning, being present, technology and the thrill and love of creating images that I too know so well.

When we start something creative we never think about what happens in the process, we just think about the outcome and most of the time the quickest way to get there. But I have learnt that photography if you allow it some time, it can change your life and this is how.

 

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1. YOU GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

When we learn anything it pushes us to go out of our comfort zone and this going out of our comfort zone is where the magic is. It’s called a comfort zone because it’s comfortable but there is no growth, evolution, or learning there. So when you pick up a camera and decide to play with it, explore life and creativity and connect with others, you are taking a daily step out of your comfort zone and little by little the magic starts to come your way. Your world starts to grow, your boundaries change from week to week, you get more daring one step at a time and it’s only when we look back at a chunk of time that we realise how much more zing we have in our life today, thanks to getting out of that comfortable place. Up and at ’em!

 

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2. CONNECTION

It’s happened to me a million times and I can see it in the girls who run off to go find another photo, there is magic in the connection that comes as a bonus (like getting a set of steak knives for free when you were purchasing something else) that you never expected when you picked up a camera. You get connected to people when you ask, “Can I take your photo?” or when you see magic in their life and get invited in, you get connected to you when you pass by a homeless person and ask yourself, “Would that be a subject I would be interested in photographing or does it hurt too much, feel too private or invasive?”

Every shot for me has been a question, a questioning of my values, of who I am, of how I feel about things and it happens to most people walking around with a camera. In holding the camera, in deciding where to point it and what to focus on, in dialing down into your vision, style, values, behaviour, and your interest in life, you get connected on all levels and folks, if that isn’t something worth celebrating as an easy-peasy way to do some self-development, I would like to know what is!

 

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3. CONSCIOUSNESS/MINDFULNESS

One of the big diseases of our modern life is never being present in the moment. We are always looking to the future or reflecting on the past but to be truly present in the moment, for many of us is a battle. What photography does is invite you to look closely at life, to feel, to get your antenna up on situations and people. In this process of looking, studying, framing, and composing, you are in the moment 100%. It is the most delicious way to be mindful without trying to force anything. Win, win!!

 

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4. CREATIVITY

We all come into this world as fresh, fearless, loving creatures full of creativity. We draw, paint, dress up, create imaginary stories and love to play but then as we grow society starts to condition us about those things and often we stop, feel shame and tell ourselves we aren’t creative. Well folks, here’s the good news, even if your creativity has been buried for years it is still there. It might be underneath a pile of annual reports, or trapped in the middle of Excel files (although that in itself is very creative) or pushed to the bottom of some law documents, all creativity needs is a little time, love and water and she will grow from a seed to an oak tree as it was always there. Creativity is there waiting for you to shine a light on her and it just takes for you to turn on your heel, smile in her direction, and call her over and the unfolding will start, just like the best of love affairs.

 

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5. TECHNOLOGY

The number one thing that sends many women (and men) into shutdown is technology but folks the news is that technology is here to stay. Yes, technology isn’t going anywhere, Fred Flintstone is not coming back with a hammer, a block of stone and a chisel and we are Not going back to hieroglyphics so what that means is if you want to be part of the human race in 2019 and thereafter you should start a love affair, even if it is ever so small with technology. Photography is one of those things that ‘sucks you in’ to loving technology. You WANT to see your photos look even sexier with a little post-processing razzmatazz, so you WANT to learn how to use Lightroom; you want to bring more emotion into your images, so you WANT to learn how to use F-stops and shutter speeds till you can do it in your sleep. The love of seeing your images and putting them out into the world makes you WANT to share them and master Instagram. So dearest folks, photography makes you WANT to learn more technology, stay up with what’s going on and it shows you that technology can be SEXY and SEDUCTIVE. Hot to trot!

 

So dear photographers and photography enthusiasts, remember each time you pick up your camera, compose and press the shutter speed, your photography muse is working for you on all levels, emotional, physical and spiritual. Sheesh, that is a fun mind, body, spirit workout!

 

“No place is boring if you have had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.”

– Robert Adams

Love and light,

Carla x

Save The Date – Belief Portrait Workshop Puglia October 6th – 12th October 2019

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Dear Photographers and Photography Enthusiasts,

I have a very special date for you to put in your calendar if you love photography, Italy, creativity, and have always wanted to attend one of our photography workshops in Puglia, Italy.

Registration will open on the 1st April 2019 to Belief, a very special portrait workshop. We are still putting the finishing touches, polishing the program, and making it the best possible creative experience we can for the participants (always our favourite thing).

I would love your opinion about what YOU would love to learn or experience and if you have time, you can fill out the short survey below:

WE’D LOVE TO KNOW YOUR OPINION

Thanking you in advance!

Love and light,

Carla x

Consciousness and My Camera

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Dear Folks,

There is a lot of talk about consciousness and meditation and for many gals and guys, it can feel really frustrating at first to sit down and try and empty your mind of to-do lists and thoughts.

I remember when I first started trying to meditate, it felt like the impossible dream, sheez there was just so many thoughts running around my mind and so much to do!!

Ha ha, the whole point of meditation is to get calm so things become clearer and you make better decisions, you connect to more of your inner knowing, so the decisions you do make are the right ones for you. One of the end games is to connect to your heart.

I have worked out there are many ways to get to this lovely state of being in the now, slowing down and taking notice of life but the most fun for me has been using my camera (or iPhone).

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Consciousness-3

The simple process of wandering around a town, village, or beach, looking closely at life, observing, framing, clicking and being fully in the moment, waiting for life to choreograph itself in an enjoyable way, is possibly the most pleasurable for me.

I have realised when I have a camera in my hand or a person in front of me I’m about to photograph that I am really looking, feeling, seeing, and listening. I am 100% percent in the now, almost like a delicious version of tunnel vision that focuses me in that moment on what has caught my attention.

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My camera gives me two other lovely kickbacks, something akin to repeating ‘gratitude’ and ‘pleasure’ mantras. I will be walking around Paris on a day and see something pretty and want to photograph it, I stop, my brain recognizes beauty, I frame it and I get a little love rush for that small beauty that has just captured my attention. It might be an arrangement of shapes or beautiful colour palette, something funny or unexpected, nothing of great artistic importance but these little ‘love bites’ feed my creative soul, give beauty where minutes earlier there was none.

What the camera does for me is allow me to fully enjoy and experience life in the moment, so dear friends, if you are finding it hard to meditate, try wandering around with a camera and let pleasure lead you to what your heart and eye find interesting. It may just one day take you by the hand and lead you to you!!!

Love and snaps,

Carla x