How To Find Your Photographic Style

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Photo Copyright Elliott Erwitt

Dear Photographers,

One of the questions I am asked often is ‘how do I find my style as a photographer’?

So let’s look first at what is a style or vision?

Photography is a personal vision. It is an individual way of looking at the world and capturing a photo that tells a story.

No two photographers see the same subject in the same way. Your particular taste and vision will set you apart from other photographers and this is your precious gift.  A photographer’s vision can be seen repeated in their photos over and over again, like a brand.

The great Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt’s trademark black and white images of dogs, street photography and portraits are infused with humour, wit and romance.  Steve McCurry another Magnum star almost works exclusively in vibrant colour with a more serious tone and if you look closely at his portraits they are always simple and engaging.

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Photo Copyright Steve McCurry

Robert Doisneau exclusively used black and white and his images of Paris are romantic, sweet and always with a dash of innocence. You can almost feel the kindness of this man in his images.

The great Elliott Erwitt also has this to say about his style and his choice of subject matter. Erwitt mentions in interviews that ‘his colleagues in Magnum are generally seen as more “serious” photographers– who photograph more “serious” events.’

However Erwitt tries to not take himself too seriously: “Well, I’m not a serious photographer like most of my colleagues. That is to say, I’m serious about not being serious.”

One thing that all these photographers have in common is that you can easily recognize their work without seeing their ‘byline’ (byline is a photographer’s or a journalist’s name printed alongside their story in a magazine). Their work is their byline.

They all have their own vision, their own style of lighting, emotions they wish to portray, their own presentation of their photos, mood of their work, personality and their own special way that they communicate through their images

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Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How I Found My Style

When I arrived in Florence in the year 2000, I didn’t have access to a huge group of friends or contacts but I did have Popi (my gorgeous landlady) and her friends. I started there, I asked to photograph them, the kids I shared the house with and the people on the streets of Florence and slowly the people I would interact with each day.

I started messing around, taking photos that I thought I wanted to take from portraits to fashion inspired photos. I followed my heart and this is where it led me. I now realise the values I held dear and subjects that were in my subconscious at the time came through.

LOVE AND EMOTIONS

Love and lack of it in the previous years had been a big theme for me and when I arrived in Italy it seemed like I was surrounded by it. Photography has always been about the emotions for me. Capturing all those outwardly expressed emotions in Italy came naturally. I couldn’t believe the amount of public displays of affection and I think it was also a reflection of the highly emotional state I felt after leaving my life in Sydney to find something I loved – photography.

A lot of what we shoot as photographers is about how WE FEEL.

MOVEMENT

I had been trapped in an office for the best part of my adult life and movement felt like the opposite to me, it represented life, action and adventure. I was obsessed with movement of all kinds including families on vespas, people of all ages riding bikes in Florence or driving strange little vehicles in the Italian countryside. Movement has become part of my style as I am always attracted to it no matter whether it is vespas, cars or people. I love blur and the emotions that come with movement in a photo.

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Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

RELIGIOUS ICONOGRAPHY

My obsession with religious iconography had to do with my lack of religious grounding in Australia and arriving to the overload and beauty of religious iconography in Italy. I was a magnet to a Madonna! I was obsessed with every tabernacle on a street corner, statues of Madonna’s in churches and religious art and just kept shooting them. I never asked why or what I would do with them but I think it comes back to my instinct.

I was attracted to the emotion they portrayed and just went with it.

ELEGANCE

I have always loved fashion and had long been a lover of fashion magazines and beautiful clothes. This love flowed over into photography even though I was shooting travel and life photos in the beginning it was often reflected.

I loved the innate elegance of Italians and would stop well-dressed people in the street and ask if I could take a photo. If I had the choice I would seek out someone dressed at the market in a certain way or with the right apron and boots. Clothes have always been a big deal for me and they are still are a big part of how I love to shoot. They really help make an image stronger.

Confession: I have ‘tweaked’ or created photos from the beginning, dressing friends and even Francesco on holidays to go out and take a photo that I wanted or felt would express something.

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Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

HUMOUR

I love things that make me laugh in life and even more when I can capture it in a photo. I think this comes back to who we are as photographers, often what we shoot is how WE FEEL OR THINK. IT IS OFTEN ABOUT US.

BLACK AND WHITE

I shot and printed almost exclusively in black and white in the early years and as I didn’t have an end use at the time for my images, I did what pleased me. Black and white became a huge part of my style and in the early years I loved shooting at night and would always end up with half a roll of film in my camera the day afterwards and go out and shoot in daylight – hence I always had a lot of grain in my images – all by accident.

SUBJECTS

There is a certain romance, nostalgia and love of all things old and falling apart in my style (except for people). You will probably notice in most of my travel images there is rarely a modern building or a clean hard edged interior, you are more likely to find a building or street with an ancient story or full of life, walls with peeling paint and faded colours. This was and is a reflection of my love for Europe and its stories and layers.. just like life.

I love authenticity and textures.

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Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

How To Find Your Style

Your style will have a great value in the future.

  1. Don’t be in hurry to develop your ‘style’. It will come naturally if you take the photos that you love and from the heart. Try not to be too influenced by everyone around you.
  2. Ask yourself what are your values, what is important to you?
  3. Keep shooting the photos you want to take and listen to your inner voice. Don’t ask why
  4. Ask yourself what is it you want to say in your images?
  5. With time your style will come without you even realising it. You may find using a particular camera, a particular lighting setup, a post production process, a lens, injecting energy and emotions or using a certain depth of field may create an effect you like and your natural style will develop.
  6. The post production choices that you make to present your photos is also a big contributor to your style, whether you choose to use high contrast black and white, punchy colour, faded vintage colours or low contrast sepia images all becomes part of your photographic look.

Music portrait photographer Anton Corbijn found his style by accident. He decided against using a flash or a tripod when shooting his portraits — he claims that he’s never been good with the technical stuff — and because of that he developed an instantly recognizable style using high speed grainy film early on.

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Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

Your handicap is your strongest asset,” he explains. “I made it work for myself, and then somehow that becomes how you take pictures, which is different to a lot of people. I mean, you always strive for the perfect thing, but then life gets in the way. A lot of my better pictures have slight imperfections… I look back at the old pictures, and I made so many mistakes.

I hope this helps you on your path to finding your style and personal vision.

“But I tell you, for me, each photographer brings his own light from when he was a kid, in this fraction of a second when you freeze reality, you also freeze all this background. You materialize who you are.” Sebastiao Salgado

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Related Post: How My Greatest Weakness Became My Biggest Strength

The Creative Career Flip Scholarship Winner is…

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Dearest Photographers, Interior designers, Graphic Artists, Musicians, Writers and Creatives,

A wholehearted thank-you to everyone that applied for my Creative Career Flip Scholarship. I was overwhelmed with the response from everyone and this is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my grown up life, I wanted to help you all.

I was so moved by your stories, your passions, your dreams and stand in awe of your creativity. Time and time again I clicked on your website, your Instagram account or Facebook page and marveled at the beauty you have created. Hats off!!!

Before I announce the winner I want to express to you that you know more than you think you know, you could articulate your frustrations, your dreams and what you don’t want to do. You were willing to stand in your truth and tell me what isn’t working and my dear friends looking in the mirror and seeing the truth is a MASSIVE step.

I couldn’t walk away from you all so if you applied for the scholarship there will be a surprise in your inbox in a couple of days.

But I am also excited to announce that for the next 6 months I will be accompanying Emily Jane Davies on her journey to make a successful career flip on her terms,  to create the blend of creativity, success and vision that she loves.

THE BIGGEST THANK-YOU TO ALL OF YOU FOR APPLYING.  I CAN’T EXPRESS HOW MUCH I ADMIRE EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU, YOUR HONESTY, YOUR AUTHENCITY AND YOUR ART.

We can stay in touch in my private Creative Career Flip Facebook group if you aren’t already in there.

Carla loves you!!!

“Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvellous.” Bill Moyer

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Related Post: Creative Career Backstage: An Artist’s Life

Invitation Only – You’re Invited

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Dear Friend,

Wanna meet me in Venice, Positano, Florence, Bali, London or Sydney to create the blueprint for the next part of your life.

I have had so many requests about coming to a place near you, that in 2017 I’m hitting the road so we can meet in person for a one-day intensive in an inspirational environment and you’re invited!

The day is devoted to you, your business and your plans for 2017. We take your expertise, what you are really good at mix it with what you love doing and flip it to live a life and lifestyle on your terms.

 

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You’re invited in this one-day intensive where we get to the heart of what you want to do, where you want to go, what you hold really important and if you are confused we find clarity so that you walk away with a plan. I will help you re-define your success so you can go after your dreams.

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One of the big things from stopping many of us from moving forward is clarity. When your goals and desires are clear everything is simplified and you can become laser focused to go after your dream without exhausting yourself and wasting your energy. We can delve into what is creating the confusion, your belief systems around love, money and your creative art and how to transform them.

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We can hone into what brings you joy, elevating or refining your skills, repackaging them in a way that you may have never thought of that will bring you more freedom, less work and more joy.

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If you would like to join me you can check out the destinations HERE or if there is another date you are interested please send me a note to carla@carlacoulson.com

I would love to help you take the next steps in your creative life.

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Related Post: An Italian Travel Photography Workshop with a Difference

The Next Big Food Photographer on the Block

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All Images Copyright of Sophia Terra Ziva

 

Dear Friends,

I think most of us are bombarded on a daily basis with food photography. From everyone photographing their meal on Instagram to the incredible pro photographers creating mouth-watering works of art.

When Sophia Terra-Ziva’s first contacted me regarding mentoring, her images slammed me out of my morning slumber. Was that a packet of pill’s I just saw tossed on the table behind the empty coffee? Was that a simple plate of sardines amongst a botanist’s drawings? Did I see coloured cigarettes and jewelled fingers and a very sensual end to a cup of coffee?

I adored her series of images called the Lonely Man’s Lunch, so melancholic, thought provoking and beautifully crafted. A glass of whiskey, more pills, scattered nuts and cigarette stubs. Who’s the guy, she has you wondering?

food photographer

This is no ordinary food photographer, this woman is an artist, she is creating mini theatre in every image. There is so much emotion, thought, layering and storytelling! And she is daring to do what most of us don’t have the courage to do. To tell her artistic truth, go out of the box and express herself freely.

Sophia has kindly shared some thoughts behind her images and when you have read this interview I would advise you to hop, skip or jump on over to her site and check out her beautiful work.

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1. In your images there appears to be real sentiment and association with food and the rituality of meals for you. Is this a big part of your story? Could you elaborate more about your connection to food and the influence it has had on your photography?

So many meals, so many simple ingredients can strike an instant reaction in me as if I see a whole motion picture rolling in front of my eyes.  It is the motion picture of my early years where food and its preparation were an event in my home and everything was made with its purpose and deep meaning.  We were poor and we were thought to respect what we’ve got and make the best of it.  Many times we would hear the older women in my family referring to food, let’s say – bread, as to some person of high status.  As a matter of fact, my paternal grandma would often say, “Nobody is higher than the bread on the table”. 

The family kitchen was a place bringing us together, where we will share, relax and unwind after a long day. 

Talking about rituality, in our household, we were just like a Classic Greek Drama from the times of Sophocles with the three main actors being my Mamma, her sister Aunty Olga and their brother Uncle Vanyo.  My sister and I were The Chorus in this classic performance, and my Dad was the Provider.  There was some unspoken hierarchy that nobody objected.  We were taught, shown and explained the reasons for every food preparation.  Nothing was wasted – even the removed muddy roots of the English spinach were collected for later when after thorough wash we will steam them for a salad with a sprinkle of olive oil and lemon juice.  One whole chicken was portioned and cooked into three different meals.  There was some syncretism of different generations and different culinary experience and it was kept by the rhythm of our family’s connection with food. 

So, nowadays I can’t even cut an onion without thinking about how my Mamma showed me how to peel an onion, how my Aunty Olga showed me how to chop it, and how my Dad showed me how to hold the sharp knife…

When I took on the camera with an intention to do more than just snap my family, the choice of food as my object of study and narrating came somehow very naturally and spontaneously.  It was that day when I received the homework from my tutor George Seper where he was asking me to take a photo representing how I view myself as a photographer, and how I see my growing and developing as an artist.  My answer to this task was an image of a turned over bowl from which a well raised and aerated bread dough was pouring down the generously floured old timber table.  The gluten was developed well and one can see great and attractive stretching of the dough with wonderful elasticity.  My explanation to my choice of photo was “I see myself and my work with photography as something plain and basic as the ingredients for bread.  I wish my photography is as honest as honest is an artisan bread, and unpredictable and capricious a bread baking can be.  I hope my photography is as nourishing to my viewers as good bread can be for the ones who eat it.  A good bread needs time, patience and skills to make and bake, and that is how I compare my road to achieving my greatest in photography”.

They are many years since I submitted this homework and nothing has changed and my view of food photography as a nourishing the emotions art still stays strong.

1. In your images there appears to be real sentiment and association with food and the rituality of meals for you. Is this a big part of your story? Could you elaborate more about your connection to food and the influence it has had on your photography? So many meals, so many simple ingredients can strike an instant reaction in me as if I see a whole motion picture rolling in front of my eyes. It is the motion picture of my early years where food and its preparation were an event in my home and everything was made with its purpose and deep meaning. We were poor and we were thought to respect what we’ve got and make the best of it. Many times we would hear the older women in my family referring to food, let's say – bread, as to some person of high status. As a matter of fact, my paternal grandma would often say, “Nobody is higher than the bread on the table”. The family kitchen was a place bringing us together, where we will share, relax and unwind after a long day. Talking about rituality, in our household, we were just like a Classic Greek Drama from the times of Sophocles with the three main actors being my Mamma, her sister Aunty Olga and their brother Uncle Vanyo. My sister and I were The Chorus in this classic performance, and my Dad was the Provider. There was some unspoken hierarchy that nobody objected. We were taught, shown and explained the reasons for every food preparation. Nothing was wasted – even the removed muddy roots of the English spinach were collected for later when after thorough wash we will steam them for a salad with a sprinkle of olive oil and lemon juice. One whole chicken was portioned and cooked into three different meals. There was some syncretism of different generations and different culinary experience and it was kept by the rhythm of our family’s connection with food. So, nowadays I can’t even cut an onion without thinking about how my Mamma showed me how to peel an onion, how my Aunty Olga showed me how to chop it, and how my Dad showed me how to hold the sharp knife… When I took on the camera with an intention to do more than just snap my family, the choice of food as my object of study and narrating came somehow very naturally and spontaneously. It was that day when I received the homework from my tutor George Seper where he was asking me to take a photo representing how I view myself as a photographer, and how I see my growing and developing as an artist. My answer to this task was an image of a turned over bowl from which a well raised and aerated bread dough was pouring down the generously floured old timber table. The gluten was developed well and one can see great and attractive stretching of the dough with wonderful elasticity. My explanation to my choice of photo was “I see myself and my work with photography as something plain and basic as the ingredients for bread. I wish my photography is as honest as honest is an artisan bread, and unpredictable and capricious a bread baking can be. I hope my photography is as nourishing to my viewers as good bread can be for the ones who eat it. A good bread needs time, patience and skills to make and bake, and that is how I compare my road to achieving my greatest in photography”. They are many years since I submitted this homework and nothing has changed and my view of food photography as a nourishing the emotions art still stays strong.

2. How did you find your way to photography and discover a passion for it?

It started with a bittersweet memory of a moment long past from my very early childhood when everything was carefree and full of love…

I could still feel the sneaky morning sunrays jumping through the leaves, caressing my face and perching on my shoulder.  I could smell mamma’s cooking coming from the kitchen.  Light and smell still tickle the nostrils of my memories.

I was at that stage of my life when I couldn’t shake off the pain of losing early my parents, deeply missing their nourishing closeness and love.  At the same time, I was building a nest – starting a family, expecting my first child.  It was time for me to create this warm and loving milieu for my children and family.

Photographing stories of food became the umbilical cord connecting the life and the stories of my family, parents, and childhood with the new generation and family I was creating.

My photos are redolent of memories.  My photography is charged with emotions, I live it and it is edited through the filters of my tears and my laughter.

Everything is very personal. 

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3. Your photographs are emotionally rich and each conveys a story. Could you tell us about your process of translating a story into a photograph and how you make that happen?

I could never relate to food photos only as a consumer.  To me, food is not a one-night-stand or forgettable quickie.  I have a relationship with it and always give it a life when building my image.  In that relation, I don’t shoot a food, I tell a story.

When I conceive an idea for a shot I think about it in either as the meal that was eaten by a person with an interesting life story, or I think of the food/ingredient itself as if it was a person.  I did a food shot of a lonely red cabbage and I couldn’t bring myself to just make a still life image.  The approach I took was if I had an appointment for boudoir glamour portrait session with a well looking middle-aged woman with hang-ups about her appearance and conscious about her own self-worth.  I made her look vulnerable and sexy and this simple image won and international photography award in Los Angelis about 3 or 4 years ago. 

I was educated in classic literature and theatre and that inevitably affects my creative approach and work.  I get emotionally attached to these persons; I am approaching it with the same principle as Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavsky was teaching his students actors about method acting.  In that regard, I am a method stylist and a method photographer.  I put myself in the skin of the person in the centre of my story and the whole visual narrative is told using their “dialect”.  They  are usually “caught” alone, in time where they can be themselves – relaxed, unpretentious and honest.  I view my photography as stories which outcome as a message can surprise everyone, including me.  The only control I’ve got is to take the viewers to the world of my personage and to let them submerge in somebody’s life, his or hers emotions and react to this existence.  If I’ve done my work well, the story takes on its own path and develops with every different person that looks at the picture.  The audiences become co-writers of my story, as they translate in their own way the messages I’ve implanted and they add their own emotions.  The story continues…

 

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4. Many of your images are very thought provoking, for example, the image with the scattered pills and the lonely man’s lunch. Are you challenging the norms of food photography or recounting a particular story?

I have to admit, I like to stir a bit the placid lake of the set rules of the food photography genre and like to engage the viewers.  What I mean is, I don’t only try to take a food photo that will make you want to reach and eat the food from the photo.  I actually want to bring a smile, to speak to the audience, to strike a chord.  The only way I can involve them in my visual world is to challenge their expectations and to offer them my side of honesty.  When we talk about breakfast rituals, I don’t want to lie to them.  My breakfast is seemingly beautifully and dreamy lit, with gentle pastel colour palette, until one realises that there are medications behind the shallow depth of field and the reality hits my viewer that my mornings are not so dreamy, pastel and gentle.  They are full of shots of strong espresso and handful of medications because I am dancing in the whirlpool of daily chores and that is all I have time for “breakfast” in my daily routine.

The same about the lonely men’s meals – I have pushed the buttons in our general perception of consuming.  Not all is pink cupcakes, not all is about tea parties, and not always we celebrate eating.  My stories about the lonely men were conceived vaguely based on people I’ve known, but as I was visualising the setting, the story evolved.  At the end, I was just following the logical development of the characters I was depicting.

In the process of introducing the story to the viewer, I throw a lot of layers of meanings because I believe I am “talking” to people from different walks of life.  My photography is steering in a sea of a cultural milieu with very wide and different communication semiotics and diverse customs.  My images are like minefields of structures, which subliminally speak about archetypes, about signs and symbols from the oldest unremembered time of the beginning of us as civilizations.  They carry the photographic code of intertextuality.

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5.    Your work features amazing colour palettes and you have a great eye for composition of imagery, layering, and subject. Are you inspired by films, personal stories, history, art, culture to create your images?

I can’t hide, I am!  I do get very inspired by books, art, history of art and films.  There was a time in my life when I’ll go on movie marathon with one of my uni friend watching films of classic Italian directors.  I couldn’t choose who I loved more – Bertolucci, Taviani Brothers or Pasolini…

I prefer to get my visual narration “breastfed” from classic maestros of the cinema and literature.  I like it raw, smelling of earth and sweat, raw feelings, raw emotions and raw reactions…  I am unafraid of sunrays shooting through the leaves and jumping around the object of my camera’s admiration. 

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate the clean white look of high key photography and I have created many “light images”.  I just don’t think it is a dominant part of my world of strong emotions, the tempest of feelings and life stories I’ve got to tell…  It is too weightless, with no dimensions and layers.  I would be the happiest artist if some day somebody perceives my work the way I devour the world of Pirandello’s stories or the motion pictures of Taviani Brothers.

I guess the choice for colours and contrast is the thing that gives away my make.  I always stay honest in that respect – the choice of camera angle, composition and styling the frame is the reflection of my inner feelings.  I want to have a relationship with my audience and honesty to me is the pillar of building this relationship strong.

The allusions in my photos are not pointing at previous examples from the history of photography or imitation of the iconic photographers; they are referring to classic examples of literature, history, art, cinema, and my own life.

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6. How do you think photography changes story telling or presents a different way to tell a story? What does photography for you convey that words don’t?

My creative path began as a philologue and theatre critic.  I worked as a journalist and made a deep mark as a sharp, direct and unforgiving “pen”.  The writing was part of my life for many years.

In many ways, words can be restrictive and tyrannical for their users if they are used or taken the wrong way.

Photography, on the other side, allowed me to take my storytelling to a different level and to break boundaries.  It is a universal vehicle of communication on conscious and on subconscious levels.  An image can move and bring out emotions from people of many ages and walks of life.  If a well-written book needs to be translated into many languages so it can be appreciated and celebrated in other countries and cultures, a well-shot photograph, on the other hand, can speak volumes and jump over the language “fence”; it can move the viewers and spring a fountain of feelings and emotions without the need of translators. 

Photography to me is one of the artistic tools with which I can send waves of evocative visual tales beyond the borders of a language, beyond the restrictions of the words and their limitation of interpretation.  It is a bridge between cultures and customs, between past and present, between generations.

And Food Photography, in particular, became for me the umbilical cord between the nurturing wisdom of those of my past that has lived and I loved, and those that are being born and have in their veins the acumen of the next generation.  My photography is charged with emotions and it is edited through the filters of my tears and my laughter.

All that said I would continue writing stories that accompany my photography and will continue to share my feelings or sporadic thoughts that are jumping in my mind through image and word.  I became a photographic writer.

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7. How do you find cooking, styling and photographing each of your images? Do you find the combination of each of these processes brings more to your photography and creativity?

It is a lot of fun!  Cooking is not a chore in my household (only washing up the dishes).  When I am home alone, it can be a quiet time for reflection.  When my family or friends surround me, it can be a performance.

The positive part about doing everything myself is that the final result is a very personal product.  The unfavourable part is that at the moment I don’t have the pleasure of exchanging ideas with other artistic minds and participate in the collective process of creating.  So, I am missing this feeling of collectiveness in making something happen, just like we use to cook together with my family. 

I would enjoy mixing my brain juices with great stylists like Hans Blomquist, Glen Proebstel or the food stylists like William Smith, Kirsty Bryson, Lyndel Miller (and so much more) which work seems very mature, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

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A huge thank-you to the beautiful Sophia for sharing so much of her process with us and please check out her beautiful work HERE.

“No Place is boring, if you have had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of un-exposed film”. Robert Adams

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PS: If you would like to check out my mentoring packages you can HERE or please feel free to get in touch with me at carla@carlacoulson.com

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How Photography Delivered The Love Of My Life

francesco, how to photography delivered the love of my life, how to get what you want, change your life, find your tribe,

Francesco by moi

Yes, that is the big, luminous truth. I give photography full credit for shining a path for Francesco to my door. In the old days, I couldn’t have envisaged in my wildest dreams there was someone out there so perfect for me. I couldn’t have imagined he would be so handsome, kind, sweet and curious.

I want to back pedal 20 years ago to the old Carla, the Carla living the wrong life. I fell into my business (a promotional clothing company) with a dear friend in my early twenties, not because it was a burning passion, but simply because I had nothing better to do at the time.

We started from scratch at my kitchen table, with me cold calling companies and my partner going out and making the appointments. It was the end of the 80’s and things grew quickly. Within a year we had our own offices and business was rocking.

We worked hard and over the next 5 years, managed to build a business turning over more than $1,000,000 annually. We were great mates and for us it was like a game and we had fun doing it together.

It was something to be proud of, yet I was never was. When people asked me what I did at a party, I’d murmur it out the corner of my mouth or they’d simply turned on their heels to go find someone doing something more interesting.

I was a successful woman who never celebrated it, because I wasn’t doing something I really cared about, nor was it true to who I really was.

In my thirties my personal life started unraveling. The mirror was being held up and I didn’t like what I was seeing. I was sick and tired of being single, I never met any new friends through my business and the game of making it work was no longer enough. Hence, the loneliness grew as my each of my friends paired up and moved on. My life just felt like it wasn’t enough.

I knew there was something wrong with my life, but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Was it my job? Was it where I lived? Was it my lack of passion for what I was doing? Was it that I had no one to share my life with? What was the problem?

I often felt like someone in a room with no doors or windows, so confused and unable to see a way out.

I was fortunate to have a catalyst that got me out and on a plane to Italy to go find the right life for me. Sometimes I wish I could place you with me on my shoulder to meet the two Carla’s. We are similar in many ways, yet so different in many others. The old Carla wasn’t even operating at 30 percent of her potential.

Walking into a darkroom in Florence was the first day of a new life but at that point, I didn’t realise it.

I had no idea this new path would bring me everything that I had craved so desperately in my 20’s and 30’s, then deliver it bigger and brighter than I could have ever imagined.

Finding something I was truly passionate about started to connect me to a world of people with common interests, photographers, creatives, art directors, friends and Francesco.

I saw him for the first time more than 13 years ago sitting across a table in all his glory!!! Confident, handsome and sheesh! I had that feeling I could just reach across the table and take him home forever.

Of course, it didn’t quite pan out that way, but we discovered that night our mutual love for photography. And so, it was our ‘muse’ that allowed us to swap books, meet up to go see exhibitions and get to know each other whilst she tagged along for the ride enjoying all the flirting.

Then one day our ‘muse’ decided that our day had come, so she put us together and we never have parted. But being the smart gal she’s never left our fold.

She is still there with us, as the third wheel in the relationship through our travels, our days out in Paris and with family and friends.

I always think, on my wedding day there wasn’t just one person giving me away, there were two! There was Dad and photography.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

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