How My Photographic Mantras Helped Bring Me My Life Today

How My Photographic Mantras Helped Bring Me My Life Today

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson.


Dear Friends,

It feels like so much has happened this year, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I have had a chance to reflect back on the past sixteen years and what has actually happened, why somethings worked and somethings didn’t and what photography has given me.

I give photography much credit for everything I have today!!

When I left Sydney in 2000 I lived along, ate take-away food each night alone, dreamed of finding someone to love and share my life with, to live in a community and belong and spend the 2nd part of my life doing something I loved (not much to ask for right??)

When I arrived fresh of the plane in Italy in 2000 and started at photography school, I was a clean slate. I had just pushed aside the first 35 years of my life and was about to start on a path that I knew nothing about.

Learning photography and watching images appear in the darkroom filled me with excitement, wonder and curiosity.

Each day I went out into the streets of Florence and took photographs. I had no agenda other than learning, seeing, feeling what came naturally and trying out my ‘training wheels’ photography skills on daily life.

Days, weeks, months, years passed and I was still out on those streets taking photos of things I loved – that brought me pleasure, made me laugh and filled me with happiness.

When I decided to try and publish a book in 2003, I looked at all the pictures I had taken and there seemed to be some recurring themes. Like a lot!

There were images of love, kissing on church steps, couples locked in a passionate goodbye at the train station and sitting on a bridge in the sun. There were images of friends, family and community, of people eating, share and enjoying food together, of Italian beaches and summer, faith and travel and of course Joy. These images were what I was attracted to without any ulterior motive.

So off I toddled to a publisher one day with my big bunch of photos and hope in my heart. These photos and my story became my first book Italian Joy and I will be forever grateful to the wonderful publisher Julie Gibbs and Penguin for her vision in saying yes to my dreams.

This summer (11 years) since Italian Joy, I picked it up and started flicking through it again. I started for the first time to see it in a different light, with new eyes and new thoughts and what has happened in the intervening years.

Well, I am sure you have all heard about affirmations and mantras? The power of repeating something you want, over and over again till the big boys and girls upstairs hear it and grant you your wish.

I realised that my photos were my mantras – I took so many photos of people in love that it eventually came to me. I took so many photos of family, friends and community – I found my tribe. I took so many photos of summer and Italian beaches it became part of what I do and I took so many travel photos that I became a travel photographer for the first 12 years of my life and got lucky enough to publish 7 books. I took so many photos of joy it became part of my everyday and all those poor people I stalked in love helped me find my very own sweetheart.  And I started to believe in something greater than just what we see.

Did focusing subconsciously on things that were missing bring them to my life??? Were the big boys and girls upstairs hanging over my shoulder in the darkroom looking at what was appearing in the developer? Did someone not only hear my message they saw it? Or was it the fact that hundreds of thousands of moments of everything I wanted were recorded not only on film but in my heart and mind?

Am I the only one this has happened to? I would love to hear if anything similar has happened to you like this.

Maybe taking photos of what you want might be the next new Post-It note on your fridge with your daily affirmation?

Much love,

Carla x

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