Our beloved parents have heirlooms that they desperately want to pass onto us and wish and hope that we love them with the same passion they do.
My mum (love ya mum) wants me to love her corner cabinet with the wooden fretwork with the same passion she does and hopes that one day it will sit in the corner of my house or my brother or sisters and remind us of her.
She has already passed on her beautiful green deco sweet dishes that I treasure and use at every opportunity and the gift of fine coffee cups for her engagement that I use with love and joy.
But there is another treasure that is contained in a box that is the real heirloom that I love and treasure with passion of my family and all the people connected to it, it’s a box of photos.
You see my memories of my family are vast and joyful. My parents created so many memories for us, picnics by rivers with our dog Jedda, scents of barbecue sausages and jumping off rocks into water, travelling to Magnetic island in the 80’s and being allowed to explore pristine beaches on our own. They took us on visits to my Aunty who had a horse named Ben and it was the first horse we ever sat upon and it was exciting beyond my imagination.
These memories and so many other stories of our ancestors have been captured in photos and cemented in my memory forever, this is my heirloom. For me it’s a treasure trove of who we are and where we came from. Sometimes I stare into these photos and I try and get to know a grandfather I never met or see my parents, young and beautiful, the way they were before we came along. I wonder about my Uncle and Aunt who travelled the world by sailing boat who meticulously documented this trip in a trip book along with numbered slides.
I had an Aunty and an Uncle (not by blood but an Uncle all the same) who loved photography and they contributed to so many of these memories with their camera, eye and heart. They photographed me on my ‘maiden flight’ with my big sister, on Ben the horse and us in the backyard playing together.
When I started taking photos I turned my camera on my own family and those small moments with my nieces and nephews at the pool, in the backyard, messing around and playing like kids do, I took photos of my brothers and sisters and my parents. They allowed me to fall in love with taking photos of people and it is THIS heirloom that I want to leave them.
Each of us value something different, I am a sentimental fool and even though I don’t have children of my own I like to think my family extends beyond blood. That I can take pictures and leave a heirloom for others that too may pick up a photo one day and ask the question ‘who is that girl’ or ‘where’s that’ or ‘I wonder what her dreams were?’.
If you too would love to leave your family memories on paper you may like to learn how to master and enjoy taking photos of people in Puglia Italy this October at my workshop, Heartland, where we explore the art of people and spaces.
My love for photography and people is vast, if you share the same passion you can see all the details HEREand unlock the secrets to capturing people as you see and feel them.
What heirloom would you like to leave your family?
PS. Mum, I do love your corner cabinet but I love you and all the joy you have given us even more!!!! (look after those photos)
This is a video about how my passion for portrait photography developed in the beginning of my career and how I found my style and vision.
Today’s blog is a video! To Watch click ABOVE OR HERE
Here’s the Transcript.
I was going to make a blog post about this morning, and then I thought, why don’t I delve into my archives and show you what’s in the box and boxes of my pictures and how my story. So, for those of you that don’t know my story. I had another life years ago and at 35, sort of had a midlife crisis look down. And I am back. So, during that time, I decided I had to work out what to do with photography, so I decided.
I just like taking pictures
I didn’t have any background in photography I just allowed myself to be attracted to what I like and it changed my life
So the one thing that I’ve learned by luxury of looking back, is that I get to look back at all these pictures, and one of the things that I feel when I see these images is extraordinary amount of people who were so kind and allowed me to photograph them.
This is all when I was at photography school so any poor person hanging around doing absolutely anything was game. This is on the street in Sicily. Anyone hanging around who didn’t have anything to do Carla was there to torture them! Flatmates who had a half an afternoon off at school. I would ask them to pose and I would try and come up with some sort of interesting fashioning looking picture, and this is another gorgeous friend who was kind enough to model for me.
My Love for Italy and Daily Life
I was really really drawn to people, also because people in different situations. And I just love Italy, and the daily life really so much it was so inspiring and even though I was shy and sort of awkward people were so kind to me. So, I felt like I could just keep going and taking all these pictures.
I just kept going and then when I was in Paris, some how the girls in bathrooms turned into girls at the Mouln Rouge and the Lido!!
Taking a Photo versus Creating a Photo
One of the things that I really learned is take pictures there’s sort of two different types of of ways of taking people pictures and that’s finding people in their environment and just taking a picture and then of course, trying to create something, and then create an emotion and have fun between you two or, or create something serious whenever you really click take pictures.
So when you’re creating a photograph from nothing from scratch and the two of you just sort of staring at each other, it really kind of feels like a rodeo ride in a sense that you know it’s exciting this tension, it’s kind of fun it’s nerve wracking. And you don’t really know where it’s going to go like that in the beginning, you feel like yeah I’ve got the good ingredients but I don’t have a cake yet, so you might have a nice location.
Thing is about having the ingredients you then try to make it into something.
And often, it really does feel like a rodeo ride and I think one of the most important things about portraiture is that when it is just so uncomfortable most people walk away.
But the art is to stay with it.
The camera connects
That the camera is an excuse to connect with people. My passion for portrait photography meant that I could go up to that person say hello and take a photo. And I loved it and kept doing it and it became my life.
And the wonderful thing was in the beginning, I didn’t put any pressure on myself so I just wanted to give you a couple of tips today.
You know, in the beginning allow yourself the joy.
Because, you know, when I was at photography school I had the most fun.
I experiment, I make a ton of mistakes.
Do What You Love
When I just noticed it the same kept coming up and up and out, and then eventually I allow that to happen that became part of what I do, how I do things, you know, these very first photographs like this girl, you know this is still at photography school this is in Popi’s bathroom the lady I use to live with in Florence.
This is one of my flatmates. You know, it is all movement in here I probably at the time didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was attracted to move and I didn’t like things to be static, then this became a big part of my style over a period of time so often in the beginning when we’re fresh, you know, we don’t have these preconceived idea that’s when when you are so powerful, so don’t ask yourself why you’re doing it just allow you to do it.
And even if you feel like you’re just going on, you know, over the same subjects, over and over again, just stick to it. Allow yourself to do it. So I thought I’d give you some little tips today on the rain day ride of portraiture, and how you can hang through it stick with it and get the pictures that you want to take. First of all, number one, is to stay with it. Okay, most people don’t stay with it. So, when you’re about to be thrown off the bull. Most people walk out.
The art is to hang on for the ride. So that is my number one piece of advice is to take a break, or to get really really uncomfortable and everything.
Often it could be, you could change position.
You could change the light you could change the energy to change your angle.
So, instead of walking away and starting from scratch all over, ask yourself what you could to change something.
Then, you know, I’m really love photos with energy so you’ll see all my photographs are kind have energy. Every now and then I do have a quiet moment. But, you know, a lot of my photographs, really are about being alive.
Getting the emotions you want
So, how do I get that. So this is the number. I provoke the situation in the nicest possible way. So if I want joy. I give them joy, so I make them laugh I do all sorts of funny things. My niece who worked with me for about a year and years ago, she said to me at the end of the year, that which I took as a compliment, was that “you don’t care what people think about you”
She came on many shoots with me, including the shoots for Harper’s Bazaar and saw that I would say to someone who was considered famous, something stupid, but I do it for purpose which is to get a laugh or get a reaction. S
So another tip for you would be to, to create that energy, whatever energy you want, create that energy.
One of the things that I would like to say to you, all these pictures I took in the beginning,
I didn’t know what I was going to do with these pictures, I just allowed myself, the time and the investment really of energy to take them. But when you do things that you truly love, they don’t always have to have a purpose, and, but often when they really good, they’ll find a purpose, one day, and I wanted to show you this because a lot of these pictures I’ve just shown you, which were taken.
Chasing A Dream
Even some of them from the beginning, these pictures became a book called Chasing a Dream. And a lot of pictures.
So all of these pictures that I just took with love and just with curiosity and trying to learn and get better over a period of years, they became the book really which is possibly one of my favorites, other than Italian joy because they became like a private collection of images.
And that’s what I would like to say just to finish this little message right now is to allow your intuition, and your instincts to be free.
You don’t know where they’re going to take you, but they are your strongest guidance anything in life that comes from the heart will always be the thing that will take you where you need to go.
Who would have ever thought that picking up a camera and falling in love with image making would be good for your health, happiness and connection to spirit?
Well, you are probably thinking that Carla has had one too many celery juices whilst taking pictures but I am not talking about that.
I am talking about getting into the ‘flow’, which is a termed coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and is described in his book Flow (1990), “he describes flow as being consciously in inner harmony with whatever you’re doing. He contends that happiness connects to our ability to feel flow in our lives and that it must be cultivated and practiced.”
I never knew how to describe this particular feeling I have with photography till I tripped over Mr. C. I had always describe it as “forgetting myself, being so in the moment that space and time disappear, I am neither hungry, tired or cold. I am so wholeheartedly connected to the moment that all I feel is the sense of ‘being’ which ultimate even when it stops brings me joy.”
Being in the flow is like meditation in motion. And for any of you folks that meditate, you will know all the health benefits such as calming your nervous system, getting inner clarity and peace. Meditation like the flow connects you to something greater, it connects you to source energy, to the big ‘energy’ kahuna that gives you more insights into yourself, life and trusting your art.
Here’s the trick, getting into ‘the flow’ doesn’t happen all the time, in fact, it can be quiet rare because we are so busy planning, thinking, questioning. It happens when you stop pushing and controlling and start to allow and trust the process and when you are having a really good time and doing what you LOVE and then you just ‘flow’ away!
The good news doing any activity you love where you lose your ability to be ‘self-conscious’ gets you into the flow. Woohoo, so if you love other creative arts, gardening or hiking you too can access flow.
Mr. C says the more you can bring flow into your life, the more happiness you will have. You can watch his Ted Talk HERE.
Before I became a photographer and moved to Italy circa the year 2000, this time of the year I would go into a sort of agitated anxious state. I would start calling all my single girlfriends and see what they were doing for Christmas because there was nothing like Christmas that made me feel isolated, lonely and not shaping up.
Often we would book a trip to Bali on Christmas Day after we had spent the day with our families so we could jet away from our lives and leave the season ‘to be jolly’ (cause there was nothing jolly about it for us) behind us just like it never happened.
I have had a lot of time lately to reflect on why it took me so long to get back on a path that was authentic to me. I was looking for the answers in the wrong places, for almost 20 years I looked for the answers outside of me.
I looked to ‘Mr Right’ to love me and when he wasn’t around I felt unloved. I looked to others to nurture me and I spent so much time running around doing things that had no purpose to fill up my time that I never had time to sit, reflect and look inwards.
I searched madly for it all outside of me but always came up empty handed and disappointed. So folks, this is about where in the story you put on the Whitney Houston track the ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ and stand up and sing with your biggest voice because that’s actually what happened to me. My 20 Year detour started when I stopped searching outside me and that’s when life feel into place (or you know what I mean).
Well, you are probably thinking easier said than done!
How do you get to that place where you actually believe it?
Shannon Fricke and I are using our stories to show there is a way to live your life that is authentic to you with joy, happiness and personal reward.
Although our stories are vastly different we have used the same framework to overcome our personal and creative challenges and continue to find our paths to our authentic selves, our new found creativity and joy.
If you would like to join us for an open discussion with like-minded souls and explore the possibilities we are having a one day workshop in Sydney December 17th and you can read all the details HERE.
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