Want To Take Photos Full of Heart Without Figuring It Out On Your Own?

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Dear Friends,

I love photography! It has brought me all the joy and reward I have in my life today.

I have gone back through so many of my different phases with photography to understand the process of learning so I can be a better teacher.

One of the things that I love to relive is how I started to take photos with conviction, photos that made me stop in my tracks in the darkroom when they appeared, photos that had soul and a lot of heart. The photos that were no longer capturing a scene but were capturing life and a story.

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Here’s what I have learnt:

To take photos full of heart you need to master the basics of photography, understand composition, shutter speed and ISO then you need to know who you are!!

Waddya mean I can hear you saying?  You need to dial into who you are as a person, to be awake to life and the moments that touch you, that mean something to you, that you want to capture in all their beauty.

To do this you need to know your values, what you stand for, what excites you, what motivates you and the wonderful thing is to profoundly know this stuff you can’t do it from your lounge-room chair. You have to get out there amongst life and open yourself and your heart. You need to decide to be available to take the next step and channel all those photos that are stilling calling you but you just can’t capture.

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Life and situations call and you have to be willing to risk a little of you every day and in every photo and when you risk a little of yourself (and I don’t mean getting beaten up by a gang) the universe rewards you with magic.

Risking something might look like asking a stranger to take their photo, taking a different route in a familiar neighbourhood, booking a holiday to a new destination or doing something you have only dreamed about doing but never done. Risking might be standing in the one place for 30 mins waiting for the perfect moment, it might be telling your husband it’s your time and leave them to prepare breakfast and go for a morning walk.

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Teaching manual photography requires patience and time, my true love is teaching something else. It’s teaching the next step, how to see, how to feel, how to take an idea, an image, a story and give it wings.

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Last week I flew half way around the world to Hawaii to take my learning to a next step and yes I could have muddled through and figured some of it out on my own but I loved being catapulted to a new level with new learning and in a group. What I have learnt not only from teaching photography but being in a group is that you learn just as much from the group as you do from the teachers.

These photos were taken in beautiful Puglia in Italy that has everyone around the world with their knickers in a knot (my Aunty loved this expression and I thought of her today) where I will be taking a group of photographers to a new level in their photography.

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Our Classroom in Martina Franca ready for the photographers

If you feel like risking a little, living a lot and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to take photos you only dared to take, we would love you to join us.

You can watch this video to see a little spirit of my previous Puglia workshop.

Please feel free to contact me at carla@carlacoulson.com or read all the details HERE.

There will be friendship, learning, delish food and beauty to fill your heart. You can read what the previous workshop had to say HERE. 

It’s the trip of a lifetime.

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Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets.

Related Post: An Italian Travel Photography Workshop with a Difference

Carla Coulson In Harper’s Bazaar

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Dear Friends,

I was so honoured and chuffed to be featured in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, one of my favourite magazines.

When the gorgeous gang at Harper’s sent me the layout for the article, it looked like a visionboard I made for my life  years ago, the only thing it isn’t a visionboard, they are real photos of me and ones I took and it is my life. Yippee..

I saw the most beautiful article recently written by Arnold Schwarzenegger on all the people who have helped him create the success in his life and I felt like he was reading my mind… so many people have helped me throughout the years including the marvellous folk at Harper’s Bazaar.

Arnie wrote:

 “Every time I give a speech at a business conference, or speak to college students, or do a Reddit AMA, someone says it.

“Governor/Governator/Arnold/Arnie/Schwarzie/Schnitzel (depending on where I am), as a self-made man, what’s your blueprint for success?” Arnie wrote “They’re always shocked when I thank them for the compliment but say, “I am not a self-made man. I got a lot of help.

It is true that I grew up in Austria without plumbing. It is true that I moved to America alone with just a gym bag. And it is true that I worked as a bricklayer and invested in real estate to become a millionaire before I ever swung the sword in Conan the Barbarian.

But it is not true that I am self-made. Like everyone, to get to where I am, I stood on the shoulders of giants. My life was built on a foundation of parents, coaches, and teachers; of kind souls who lent couches or gym back rooms where I could sleep; of mentors who shared wisdom and advice; of idols who motivated me from the pages of magazines (and, as my life grew, from personal interaction).”

I too stood on the shoulder’s of giants. In my case there have been so many sets of helping hands from art directors saying yes to a pitch or commissioning me to do a story, from publishers believing in a book idea or an assistant pointing out something I wasn’t seeing.

From a friend reading a first draft of my book and suggesting slight changes to all the wonderful people who bought it! And just like Arnie I too have mentors, people I look up to, ask for advice and help guide me through this magical thing called life and creativity.

There hasn’t been a day I haven’t thanked the people who have helped me and the people in my community, they are the people who made this happen for me.

So, THANK-YOU TO YOU for reading this, for opening this email and being part of my community and huge thanks to Harper’s Bazaar. Don’t forget to grab the latest issue.

I couldn’t do it without you.

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Related Post: Backstage Secrets to this Harper’s Bazaar Shoot

Collette Dinnigan’s Roman Holiday For Harpers Bazaar

Fashion, Collette Dinnigan, Harpers Bazaar

All Photos Copyright of Carla Coulson

A Big Happy Hello from Italy,

I have wanted to share this story which combined two loves for me, Italy and Collette Dinnigan.

When Harpers Bazaar phoned asking me whether I would like to shoot Collette in Rome I couldn’t say yes quick enough.

I purchased my first Collette Dinnigan piece in my late twenties and have never managed to let it go. Each time I put on something of Collette’s it made me feel special, the touch of the beautiful fabrics, the crafting and styling of the garment and the femininity she puts into everything she does. For me it was art.

Fashion Collette Dinnigan-2

It was an exciting shoot for me for all these reasons, meeting a hero in a place you love, with a beautiful backdrop and her gorgeous husband to boot.

Collette was gorgeous and what a dream to shoot her in Fendi and a beautiful vintage find.

For those who weren’t in Australia and unable to purchase the magazine here is a little snapshot of what we got up to.

Fashion Collette Dinnigan-3

Mega thanks to Harpers, the beautiful and kind Collette, hubby and family..

I hope you enjoy it.

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PS: I have a couple of photo shoots available for October if you are in Paris. You can read more here 

Turning A Negative To A Positive

spring, casentino, italy, positive to negative, turning positive to negative, countryside, new beginnings, change your life

Dear Friends,

I hope you had a fabulous weekend and are full of good vibes for the week ahead.

I know it’s hard always to be full of good vibes and I thought I would share a story that happened way back in the beginning of changing my life.

So, there I was in Florence, I had finished photography school and I had had my first story published in Marie Claire Australia but hey the magazines were hardly breaking my door down.

I had schlepped up to London with a suitcase full of photos and seen all the magazines I loved but returned home empty handed. Somehow I had the genius idea to go see a friend in Geneva on the way back to Florence and ended up on a Sunday night train standing for hours with a knot in my stomach and the fear of failing doing laps in my head.

At the same time I had found myself a part-time job teaching the basics in a local photography school and I mentioned to the owner how I wanted to do a series of postcards and sell them in Florence. I told him all my ideas and where I was going to get them printed.

A week later he came into the school and dumped down on the table a set of postcards he had printed with my printer and was heading out to distribute them. I was flabbergasted, hurt and felt betrayed.

Now looking back it doesn’t seem like such a big deal but at the time things were pretty shaky and that was a big kick in the pancreas! I remember going home crying that day, all my power had drained from my body, my positive ‘can-do’ energy had evaporated and I started to entertain the thought that I might have to go back to Australia.

I sat in my apartment in the dark (didn’t have the energy to turn the light on) for a couple of hours, then my tears started to dry and my ‘don’t mess with me’ pride and energy came rearing out of no-where galloping towards the computer. I’ll show him I thought and BTW I ain’t going home!

I must have sent out between 30-50 emails that night, I sat at the computer and wrote to every magazine I knew and contacted ones I didn’t know. I even contacted Marie Claire in many different countries. I was like a nuclear power house of energy. At the end of the night I fell into the bed, happy content with all the positive energy I had expended. Actually I thanked him.

Within two days I had sold my previously published Marie Claire story TWICE. Once to Greece and once to Brazil. I received a phone call from an English magazine whilst riding across the Ponte Vecchio for a commission that week in Tuscany.

This time I cried tears of happiness. Not only would I receive a little economic injection but I was actually getting closer to what I wanted to do. A situation that had briefly taken away my power, thrown me into the gutter of bad vibes had been rectified with positive action and put me back on the right path.

As much as I needed that small job, I decided to quit. I couldn’t look at the guy anymore and life is too short to hang out with negative energy.

That guy did me the biggest favour, at the end of the year I had the courage to scrape together some images and go pitch a book. That was eventually published under the name of Italian Joy.

So dear friends, when someone kicks you in the pancreas and life feels rotten, think about how you can turn your negative into a positive and keep going on the path you have always wanted.

Wishing you the most marvellous Monday.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer”

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back”. Albert Camus

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Photographing Your First Book

Books Carla Coulson Some of my books rubbing up against my heroes..

Nothing like a new start, a new week and a New Year that brings so many new projects and hope.

I love hope!

I have been preparing images and a presentation for the upcoming Caravan Travel Photography Workshop in Puglia and going through 12 years of images. This is such a wonderful process in itself, like looking through a visual diary of your life, moments in time, familiar faces and ones you have forgotten.

Grandfather Naples Carla Couls

I like to think I remember every photo but even I found some lovely surprises.

Trawling back through the images from now to the beginning of photography school, through projects such as Naples A Way Of Love, Paris Tango and and all the way to Italian Joy I had a thought that may just help you shoot your first book.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

When you are at the beginning of anything you have ‘things’ that money can’t buy – endless oodles of enthusiasm, no expectations,  the joy at looking at the world as though you have just seen and ‘felt’ it for the first time and shooting what you love.

Sunbaker Carla Coulson Italian Joy

The cameras I invested in in the early years were like new toys for me and I couldn’t get enough of them. My underwater camera meant even at the beach I could explore photography from a new angle.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

The photos that ended up in Italian Joy were a product of innate curiosity of life, the burning desire to take photos that said or made you feel something, sheer unadulterated happiness and untiring enthusiasm that would have me out in the rain, the wind, the snow… asking fishermen (that I didn’t know) to board their boats and shoot them.. holding my breath and shooting ladies underwater.. treading water whilst kids jumped off the rocks one after the other waiting for that perfect moment ….and stalking lovers in train stations.

Italian Joy Carla Coulson

The photos I took in those early years are still some of my favourites because they were taken for sheer pleasure and love of photography with no end use in mind. They were photos born of freedom.

And this my dear friends is your advantage when shooting for a ‘probable’ first book.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

Some things I notice in my photos looking back:

1. I shot ‘my’ world, the people around me, people who would give me access, my friends, family, Florentines and Popi

2. I was obsessed with movement, I shot vespas over and over again

3. I was also obsessed with religious iconography in Italy and drawn to every tabernacle on a street corner, statues of Madonna’s in churches and religious art (I have thousands of images).

4. I loved the innate elegance of Italians and would stop well-dressed people in the street and ask if I could take a photo (yep I was obsessed).

5. I loved shooting love in all it’s expressions…

6. I shot things that made me laugh (still do)..

7. I shot almost exclusively in the early years in black and white…(and I never felt the pressure to shoot in colour)

Made in Italy Carla Coulson Italian joy

 All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

So here are are some tips if you are at the beginning of your photography career and hope one day to shoot/write a book.

1. Shoot what you love and don’t question it.

2. Shoot what is accessible and don’t ask yourself where it will fit?

3. The world needs original books so if you think it isn’t mainstream enough.. Keep shooting you are probably onto something.

4. If you are shooting a well known subject put your spin on it.

5. Take the photos you love and trust your inner ‘photographer’s voice’.

I hope this little insight helps you on your path.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Elliott Erwitt

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