Blog - Carla Coulson
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Five Ways To Take Better Portraits

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Linda Maria Karlsson | @lindamariakarlsson | Copyright Carla Coulson

Dear Photographers,

I love portraiture! I love the challenge of working with people and creating an image that they love and I do too.

Working with people can be tricky, I have found it takes a greater energetic investment than landscape or cityscape photos so you need to be in the right mood to be able to give to your portrait subjects, to then receive something back reflected in the image.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Marine | Copyright Carla Coulson

I thought it would be fun to share with you 5 tips that I take in my ‘toolkit’ each time I go to a portrait shoot.

  1. What do they want? – Before I start any shoot whether it be for a magazine or a private client or even for myself I ask what the client wants? Magazines always give a brief to a photographer of what they require and over the years I came up with my own ‘brief’ when working privately to ask my clients questions that would help me formulate where to start! Their answers have proved invaluable to me. The more I know about them the easier it is for me to get it right.

 

  1. Time – I give myself plenty of time on the shoot and make sure I am never late. As I am directing the shoot I need to be in a relaxed state otherwise my portrait subject will start to feel unnerved from the beginning. I make sure I allow an amount of time up to 30 minutes when I can chat with them, take a look around their house or have a coffee. Getting to know them is important before I get out the camera.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Jasmijn Van Ooy | @jasmijnpicturesthis | Copyright Carla Coulson

 

  1. Your Vision – I like to have a creative starting point even before I arrive at my shoot. That starting point generally comes from a brief I have asked my client to complete and scouting the location or other historical, film or creative references. I love to make moodboards and often I do this on Pinterest. This can help a client get into the mood of things and see where I am going. Trust is everything and getting a client excited about your vision builds trust and the more they trust you the easier it will be for you to ask them to dance on tables or hose their husband down!! (well you know what I mean)

 

  1. Lens options – This is not essential, so if you are just starting out please don’t think you have to buy numerous lenses but if you haven’t had a chance to scout a location having options of wider focal lengths such as a 35 mm can instantly give you more space in a room. Even though portrait lenses such as an 85mm are glorious, sometimes they can be too tight if you are wanting to tell a little more story with your portrait.

parisfilmnoir, Carla Coulson, thebubblejoy, linda karlsson, Jasmijn van ooy, portrait paris, black and white photography, photographing women, photography tips, portraiture, portraiture tips

Mithra Ballestros | @thebubblejoy | Copyright Carla Coulson

 

  1. Playful energy – I don’t want to say that I am on a trampoline fist pumping before I go to a portrait shoot but I am very conscious of my energy. I have learnt that portraiture for women, in particular, makes them feel vulnerable and exposed and when women feel that way they often shut down. I try and make it fun so they forget it’s a portrait shoot and ends up feeling more like dress-ups with your girlfriends. The more your portrait subject gives, the better photos you will always have so I give as much as I can on the day and most of the time this is returned over and over again.

 

I hope this helps you take better portraits and have fun doing them. Love to hear your tips.

Sending love,

Carla x

Creativity Isn’t An Exclusive Club

Carla Coulson, Claire Lloyd, Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs, carla coulson retreat, greece, lesvos, creative retreat, living creatively, joy retreat, carla coulson workshops

Dear Creators,

I was talking to the beautiful Domenica More Gordon the other day about creativity.

I love this woman, she is across all creative fields including making felt dogs, directing short films, and illustrating and writing children’s books.

We were talking about the process of creativity and the labels that are often associated with creativity that makes it appear that it is an exclusive club that not everyone has the member’s badge to enter.

Domenica is passionate, and so am I, that creativity is for everyone. We came into this world creative with the ability to create whatever we want but one of the things that we are rarely told in life, is that we are creators. We may hear that we are creative but rarely that we are creators and our lives are a form of art and the best way to create them is with passion.

Carla Coulson, Claire Lloyd, Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs, carla coulson retreat, greece, lesvos, creative retreat, living creatively, joy retreat, carla coulson workshops

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So what makes someone creative or not? In my humble opinion, it’s TIME and CONNECTION. 

It’s the choice or not to give something time, to try something you think you might be interested in, to poke around in the dark, scratch the surface like a chicken looking for a grub and when you find something you like, stick with it.

Yes, folks, that is my definition of creativity. It’s crossing the comfort zone of fear and saying I will pick up a paintbrush, an embroidery needle, a camera, an excel file, a pair of knitting needles or a guitar.

Music is in all of us, we just need to remember the rhythm. Art is in all of us, we just need to let go. Seeing is in all of us, if we slow down and take the time to see.

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Creativity for me is allowing myself to try something with no outcome and doing the kilometres (my Aussie way of saying doing it over and over again).

If I hadn’t left my life at 35, I may have died a closet creative!!!

Instead, like a chicken scratching around I found a grub, I found photography. I turned that grub over and over and kept looking for more grubs, scratched a little deeper till after a lot of scratching around in the dark, I realised I am creative.

For this very reason along with my dear friends Claire Lloyd and Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs and hubby Francesco we have created JOY, a Living Creatively Retreat so you can create the next part of your life with intention. We will help you let the closet creative out,  define your life’s desires, encourage you to start consciously creating the next part of your life, re-think your well-being, and bring more Joy into your daily life. The idea is you walk away with passion and clarity for the next part of your life.

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During our daily focus sessions, we will invite you to think differently and allow you to connect to what your heart has always desired. Oh, and there will be long table lunches, boat trips, swims, daily art lessons and dancing.

If you would like to nurture a seed inside of you and let it sprout, take a step into your creative self you can check out the details HERE.

Registration closes on February 28th.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift”. – Albert Einstein

 

Sending love,

Carla

There is a garden even when there are no trees

paris, black and white, carla coulson, photography paris, winter in paris, black and white photography, carla coulson photography

Dear Folks,

On a bright sunny winter’s day, I landed back in Paris after an even bigger, brighter, barefoot couple of weeks in Australia still with my beach hair tucked into my hat.

Paris was showing off! All the winter sunshine coming at crazy angles, making every object, person and bare tree have exaggerated shadows and teasing the photographer in me as cafés, shops, and metro stations flashed by from the taxi window.

I was so grateful to have escaped the Parisian winter for a couple of weeks to Oz to see my family and friends and reconnect with my inner and outer Australian, yet today I was dazed and amazed to see Paris in winter in all of this light.

The following day, it felt like God had switched off the light, the way I remembered Paris in winter. Clouds descend and hover over the zinc roofs, the sun comes up at 9 am and goes down around 5 pm and those jet-lagged hours between 5 am and 9 am feel like the bleakest hours of your life as you wait for the first ray of light praying that the sun will rise just one more time.

paris, black and white, carla coulson, photography paris, winter in paris, black and white photography, carla coulson photography

paris, black and white, carla coulson, photography paris, winter in paris, black and white photography, carla coulson photography

Seasonal amnesia had hit again. I had forgotten what it felt like when the temperature is so low it is too cold to snow!!! That darkness that strikes at the very heart of my Australian light-loving spirit, the cold that makes you want to have hot baths twice a day and with a click of my fingers I forgot why I am here.

It was in this bleak jetlagged mood that I was given a gentle reminder by a Parisian friend about where to find the garden in Paris. We were talking about swimming in the sea and having a garden, about the beauty of plants, trees and flowers and how deeply I needed them in my life. He told me this:

“In Paris, our garden is our city, it’s streets, cafes, cinemas, and museums. We call it ‘l’art de vivre’ – taking advantage of the good things in life. It’s not the big luxuries, it’s also the small luxuries, life’s very own luxuries. Soft music, a cup of hot tea in your hands, admiring a beautiful painting, walking along a boulevard as the city comes alive or enjoying a little elegance. It’s about sitting in a café and reading your favourite book, watching life come and go, knowing no-one will ever hurry you along.

Just like you would go and spread a picnic rug on the grass on Sunday in Australia, we go and have lunch in a local café with friends and spend the afternoon in a museum, letting the art be our trees and the cinema be our swim in the ocean. We look inwards and use the winter to slow down, recharge, relax and reflect. We use our city and it’s details like a garden to soothe, regenerate and inspires us so that when the Spring comes your creative well is full, your energy is recharged and you can go forth into the real gardens and enjoy.”

paris, carla coulson, photography paris, winter in paris, carla coulson photography, flowers, paris streets, garden

paris, carla coulson, photography paris, winter in paris, carla coulson photography, flowers, paris streets

So wherever you are, there is a garden just waiting for you to walk through it, to smell the roses, listen to the music and gaze at its beauty. Like Paris in winter, it may be a garden of a different kind; you just need to be reminded how to find it.

Sending love and roses from this beautiful café where I am writing this after seeing a ‘flower filled’ exhibition.

Love and hugs,

Carla x

 

Related Post: Why Joy is like Spiritual Crack

 

Celebrating These Photographers in Puglia

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Jennene Greenall

Instagram: @jennenegreenall

 

Dear Folks,

One of the greatest joys that happened to me in 2018 was a week I spent with these beautiful souls at the stunning Masseria Potenti in Puglia.

This workshop was like no other photography workshop that we have created, as I wrapped two passions into one, coaching and photography.

Wow, even I was surprised!! Boy, did it unleash new-found confidence and joy in this talented collective of women and incredible insights into embracing a bigger creative dream.

Maria Grazia, Chiara, and the staff at Masseria Potenti nurtured and inspired us with an authentic Puglian experience in food, wine, design, and hospitality and when it came time to go home, none of us wanted to!!! Who would want to leave their hand-embroidered linen sheets behind…

Athalee Brown took care of every detail and photographer Loc Boyle shared his vast knowledge, kindness, and patience when it comes to all things photography.

 

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Jasmijn Van Ooy

Instagram: @jasmijnpicturesthis

 

So this post is to celebrate these women (and the ones that photography is missing here) to show you what happens when you dare to push open a door to creativity, yourself and do something you love.

How within each of us lies creativity and talent and even if it has been dormant for a lifetime, it’s waiting there for a breath of oxygen to ignite it, and when you ignite it and blow on it a little bit, sometimes it can become a raging fire of passion, as joyous and wonderful as falling in love.

Go check out their Instagram feeds and stunning work.

A huge thanks to these gals for one of the most beautiful weeks of my life, for allowing me to share their work and to the new friendships that will stay with us for a lifetime.

Love and hugs,

Carla x

 

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Mary Willis

Instagram: @mary_cate_w

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Jilly Bennett

Instagram: @jillybennettphotography

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Gabby Llewelyn

Instagram: @gabby_bravebrownrabbit

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Lisa Derea Frederiksen

Instagram: @lisadereaphotography_art

 

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Silvia Maggiotto

Instagram: @italyandherbeauty 

 

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Mariam Isa

Instagram: @mermaid2331

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Sarah Vandermark

 

The 5 Best Lessons of 2018

carla coulson, positano, italy, photography, loc boyle

Glorious Ones,

As the year comes to a close, I would love to say thank you for being here and sharing this little corner of the planet with me.

How was your year? Did it bring all the things you wished and hoped for or did you learn a valuable lesson?

I had a year like no other. It was a year that took me off my path (or so I thought) for a couple of months but in fact the universe was telling me even though you have learnt a lot of stuff sometimes you need to repeat things to really let the message sink in.

So as 2018 draws to a close, I would love to share with you 5 valuable lessons I re-visited in 2018 that allowed me to grow, dial back into what is important to me, and hopefully there will be something here you can learn from too.

 

Time is Love

This is at the top of my list because the past 3 years have been big learning years for both hubby and myself. I became a life coach and he finished a course as a naturopath. We have read hundreds of books on health, spirituality and psychology and the greatest lesson for me has been that if you could spell love in another way, you would spell it like this T..I.. M.. E..

Wherever you put your time, you put your love. So make time for those you love, your friends, tribe and family because your time is the greatest demonstration of love you have.

 

Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

Hands up if you are guilty of this one? You feel like time is ticking and you have sooo much to do. Between racing from one thing to another you feel tired, stressed and sometimes out of sorts. Life feels serious, kids to get to school, meals to cook, bills to pay, stress at work and not enough time to have fun and kick up your heels.

You may be taking life way too seriously! Yes, I had a bit of 2018 that lost its bubble until one day I laughed at myself. I realised I was taking things too seriously. Why are we doing this? That’s not why we are here!!  From that moment on I focused on the joy and fun and bringing it back into my daily life.

 

You Get What You Focus on

This is a goody for all of us to remember. We can choose to focus on the good stuff or the bad stuff but whichever it is our thoughts become things, so choose wisely.

Being a girl of endless positivity there were a couple of months this year when I focused on the negatives of my personal life instead of the positives and the universe gave me a shock to remind me to live consciously. So if life is giving you lemons check if you have been thinking a little too much about lemons lately and remind yourself to think about what you do want!

 

Ask

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the people around you who love you, is to ask for help. Many of us use doing ‘it all on our own’ as a badge of honour, when in fact by not asking for help when we need it, we are denying those around us the opportunity to show their love and care for us. So be brave and ask for help when you need it and allow yourself to receive this great gift of a helping hand.

 

Things can be done with ease

So many of us have been brought up to work hard. That the only way to get anywhere is to put in extreme hours and ‘push through’, nose to the grind and bum in the air. 2018 showed me something else, that when you get connected to the spiritual slipstream, the thing the scientists call the quantum field and the woo woo call the universe or source energy and others call God or their god of choice, you can take advantage of synchronicity and other delicious energetic fields to bring home the bacon, love and whatever it is you want in life with more ease.

 

I hope there was something there for you!! You can leave me a comment in the section below to let me know how your year was and what you learnt. Love to hear.

So my lovelies, I wish you with all my heart a wonderful Christmas and fabulous New Year.

I look forward to sharing 2019 with you, more photography, inspiration and motivation to live the best life you can.

Sending love

Carla x