backstreets of venice gothic windows and private courtyard by carla coulson

Life Lessons Venice Taught Me At 21

Venetian house and private garden with gothic windows by Carla Coulson I will never forget the life lessons I learned in Venice. The memory of the first day I alighted  will go with me to the grave, it has been burned into my cellular memory as one of the stand out memories of my life.

Travel is the greatest teacher. Every twenty year old Australian wanted to backpack around Europe and I joined the crowd. I was just 21 and was backpacking around. It was my first time overseas, I was way out of my comfort zone and all the creature comforts I was used to were faraway.

Thirty years ago it was a normal thing to catch the train from London to Venice with a little ferry ride from Dover to Calais!  I didn’t stop in Paris; I headed straight for Italy.

When the train rolled into Santa Lucia station and I walked out with just my backpack, my heart felt like it was outside of my body. I laughed out aloud like someone was playing a big joke on me!

white baroque church venice italy by carla coulson

water taxi on the grand canal venice

scenes of venice by carla coulson white altar and venetian houseMy brain couldn’t catch up with what was happening, the abundance of ornate beauty coming out of the water in the form of churches and shops, palaces and houses. The faded colours of ochre, dirty yellow and pink were the backdrop to boats delivering wine and fridges, chairs and art.

I walked to the edge of the canal and stood trying to figure it out.

The beauty hit me like a stun gun. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It took an hour before I could move on, start in the direction of finding my pensione with a map that meant absolutely nothing to me.

I didn’t care, it took forever that day to find the pensione run by a small Venetian called Maria. It was a spartan establishment with terrazzo floors, perfectly made single beds with bright white sheets and photos of the Madonna on the wall. Kind of like a Dolce & Gabbana ad.

In those days, it wasn’t weird to share the room with numerous people and I had another Australian girl in the bed next to me and on the opposite side of the room a Spanish man doing a tour of churches.

I remember thinking that was the oddest thing, who would tour the world to look at churches? I laugh now, cause that’s exactly what I do with Francesco, stick our head into every church we pass.

venice door and the dorsoduro by carla coulsonvenice gondola workshop by carla coulson dorsoduro

I had a copy of Italian Hours by Henry James as a companion and I walked the streets and over the bridges of the canals of Venice delighting in every detail. Henry James was my guide, I too fell in love with the Tintorettos in the Doge’s Palace, the faded colours, the way the doors opened into the sea, the way Venetians called to each other in what felt like a secret language. I loved it all, the wine bars where the locals would stand at the bar smoking and have a glass of prosecco or caffé coretto, coffee with a hit of grappa.

In the evenings, the other Australian girl and I would grab some wine, cheese and fruit and find a place on the canal and marvel at all the funny things that happened.

Venice was romantic like me She was unashamedly nostalgic and it felt like I had found the perfect match. Every outdated way of doing absolutely anything was still in in Venice and I reveled in.

boat transporting art Venice by Carla coulsonWashing in campo santa margherita bridge over canal venice by carla coulson

At the end of the work day, the train would bring an influx of Venetians back to Venice and I still remember the elegance of the women and men. They seemed like the most sophisticated people on the planet. The way they dressed, they moved, the care in the details of the way they put themselves together right down to their exquisite shoes.

When I left Venice, I would never be the same girl. I would carry her with me in the coming years, our love affair has spanned 34 years. There is hardly a year that goes by without me knocking on her watery door and starting where we last left off. Photographing her has been one of my greatest joys, for myself and magazines (you can grab some tips here).

detail white curtains piazza san marco venice by carla coulson

All images copyright Carla Coulson

Venice taught me so many life lessons. That the world is a big magical place, bigger and more beautiful than we could ever dream up. That there are places when you are far away from home that feel like home. That in a fast paced modern world, it is OK to be old fashioned and romantic and to be yourself. She taught me that the magic lies out of our comfort zone.

Maybe she planted a seed in my twenty-one-year-old mind that wasn’t ready to germinate at the time, that would slowly grow in my thirties, that life could be lived in so many different ways and that maybe one day that Italy would be part of my story.

She showed me that the impossible is possible. Never stop dreaming.

We love Venice we will be back real soon.

What is your favourite travel memory? Leave me a note below

Carla x

If you love Venice and want to have daily updates on this glorious place, you can follow on Instagram @venicebybridge

Carla Coulson, Carla Coulson Photography,Carla Coulson Coaching

When Do Your Photos Become Valuable?

Dear Folks,

The easy answer for this is the moment you take them. They are our memories, the proof of our lives, where we have been and what we found along the way.

The longer answer goes something like this.

So many of the photos I have taken during the last eighteen years were for pure pleasure on my travels or holidays and today I have 100,000’s of thousands of photos on numerous discs and negatives.

When I first started taking photos the concept of them being valuable didn’t enter my mind. I was so excited to take them and then rush out and take some more, like a wonderful addiction to life.

I was terrible with them, in such a hurry to print them and see them appear in the darkroom that I would hastily discard one negative for the next and often put them back in the wrong packet.

 

Carla Coulson, Carla Coulson Photography,Carla Coulson Coaching

 

Hence if someone today asks me for a copy of a photo in my first years, I will go into hot sweats and do anything to avoid promising that photo because I could lose a day looking for it. I would rather NOT find it or sell it than go looking for it.

When I started my blog back in 2008 I put up the photos I loved with little SEO tags of when and where I took them and now I have a steady stream of magazines, publications and interior designers asking me for my photos from my travels.

Coupled with the photos I continue to take, I have come to realize that our archives have an enormous value and they should be treasured, catalogued and easy to find.

So dear photographers, I beg you to look after your images and no matter where you are on your journey start improving your system today.

 

Carla Coulson, Carla Coulson Photography,Carla Coulson Coaching

 

Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Right now today make sure you always have two discs of any series of images. One being an exact backup disc and mirror of the original disc and make sure they AREN’T stored together
  2. Number, date and name your discs and make sure they are marked clearly on the outside
  3. Categorise each shoot by date first, month and then name your project, person and place for each search reference. When you open your disc you should see a series of folders with specific jobs, subjects or travels.
  4. If you are super-organized start a file with the disc names and then sub folders on that disc. You could also do a hard copy reference book just for this for easy searching so if you are looking for ‘2013 Sifnos’ you know it is on disc 13 etc..
  5. Always keep your ‘hero’s’ in a 3rd place such as the cloud so if all things go belly up you have the best photos of your career in high resolution version.

 

I know so many of you are creating magic on a daily basis, look after your beautiful images as one day they will have an incredible emotional, historical and economical value.

 

Happy snapping!

Carla

 

Related Post: What Heirloom Will You Leave Your Family?

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2 PLACES LEFT – Masseria Potenti Puglia 2018 

Dear Photographers,

One of the things I love about dreaming up and teaching workshops is creating the time out for the participants from their daily life to not only concentrate on their photography and improve it, meet some new members of their tribe but to have the time to reflect on life and what they want.

It’s in this ‘bubble’ away from the cooking and the kids, away from work and daily chores that not only do you get time to concentrate on you and nurture your photography but you get the clarity on how you want to move forward or what you would like to shift or bring into your life. 

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I too have had the exact epiphany attending workshops as a participant and loved the experience of sitting in a room and being inspired, nurtured and everything done for me.

This October we plan on making it our best workshop ever where everything and we mean everything is taken care of. 

At the beautiful Masseria Potenti not only are Maria Grazia and Chiara two of the most welcoming hosts but they have created an atmosphere of simplistic beauty that is a wonderful subject and backdrop for our portrait photos and at the same time good for the soul in every sense. We will look after breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will have your own beautiful room and all you need to do is to concentrate on taking the photos you have inside you and have yet dared to take.  

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The photography lessons, models, trips to local villages to photograph the locals, the critiquing and inspiring you and pushing your photography to new levels will all be taken care of by us. We plan to create a unique atmosphere of joy and trust where you can learn to be a little more courageous in accessing something deeper within you that will allow you to go beyond those portrait moments when it feels like nothing is happening, to provoke your portrait subject to draw out something more than a pretty portrait and for you not to give up when you still don’t have the shot.

If you love people photos and want to improve yours, if you would love to come away with a beautiful portfolio of interiors and people and want to give yourself the gift of getting closer to life, the details and yourself, there are only TWO PLACES LEFT.

If you have any questions you can email us at workshops@carlacoulson.com or check out the full details here.

Related post: Why Photography is Good for your Happiness

Carla Coulson, chasing a dream, da adolfo, amalfi coast, italian joy, photographers life,

Panning People In Street Photography

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

 

Dear Friends,

One of my intentions as a photographer when I take pictures is to take pictures that have a feeling in them and we are lucky with photography to have many different tricks to be able to do this,  even when there appears like not a lot is happening.

One of the techniques I have always loved is panning. My first book Italian Joy had a photo of a couple on a scooter ‘panned’ and I have since incorporated it into photographing or panning people.

 

Panning People Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

 

You need a lot of patience when panning people as the technique is even more difficult with people as they are moving slowly. You ‘pan’, move your camera from left to right or vice versa at the same speed as your subject in a fluid movement and then click when you like the frame.

Panning creates the feeling of motion even if your subject is moving slowly.

 

Panning People Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

 

Here’s what I do:

  1. Set my shutter speed at about 1/20 sec depending on how quickly the people are walking – the faster they are walking the faster your shutter speed needs to be
  2. I wait for a subject that is parallel to me on a straight line in front of me
  3. I set the focus on manual and focus on a point between them and me knowing they will pass that line
  4. I remain still but allow my camera to follow them and when I see the composition I like I press the shutter but I don’t stop there
  5. I continue to move the camera with them in a fluid movement to complete the ‘pan’
  6. The part of your photo that you have focused on is in focus but the rest is fluid and blurry,

 

Panning People, Carla Coulson, Martina Franca Black and white photography, photography workshop, italian photography workshop, travel photography workshop, travel photography workshop italy, portraiture, fashion portrait, movement, carla coulson, creative coach, creative entrepreneur, photographer, photographers life, italy, photography workshop puglia, beginners travel photography workshop, photography

 

Trouble shooting:

  1. Don’t despair if your photos are ALL blurry the first couple of times you do it. Often it is because you AREN’T moving at the same speed as they are.
  2. Check your focus and make sure if you are using autofocus to set it to single shot not continuous and keep your finger on the shutter with the correct focal point till your subject appears in the right spot.

 

Have fun..

For instant feeling just pan, stir, shake and rinse and repeat!!!!

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Related Post: Overcoming Your Fear Of Photographing Strangers

Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets.

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Lemnos Creative Immersion Retreat – SOLD OUT!

Dear Folks,

Thanks to the gorgeous folks who will be joining writer Paula Hagiefremidis, Stylist Shannon Fricke and myself on Lemnos in September. This restorative retreat is sold out.

If you would like to get on the waitlist for one of Paula’s other retreats get in touch with her here paula@mediterraneanwanderer.com

Sending love and can’t wait to meet the group in Greece.

Woohoo

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Related Post: Backstage Creative Vision Retreat Lemnos