Private Portrait Shoot - Retro Hawaiian Inspiration - Carla Coulson
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Private Portrait Shoot – Retro Hawaiian Inspiration

You may remember this beautiful girl as the happy poppet on the back cover of Italian Joy! See last photo.

She is one of my beautiful nieces and this summer we had a little photo fun together. Since my gorgeous girls have grown-up in the blink of an eye I thought it would be fun to call my darling make-up artist friend and have a little gal time.

Eliza is possibly one of the kindest people I know and the minute this little ray of sunshine came into our world she was spreading joy and kindness to all those around her. We all knew she was an old soul from the minute she was born, she had a special way about her that made us think whooo hang on a minute this one’s been here before!

I remember being her age (16) and struggling with how I felt about myself and so much of it was based on what the guys at school said about me. Like I had hairy legs or my eyebrows where too thick etc etc..The repercussions lasted for years.

Being a teenager and having great self esteem isn’t easy so I wanted my girls to have a photo that reflected their incredible beauty that I am sure some days they overlook and instead listen to the comments of others.

So my darling Eliza I could say you are beautiful a million times and it probably wouldn’t have any effect so instead I am showing you what I see. . YOU ARE AMAZING!!

Eliza in Italian Joy taken in 2003 on the left and a little bit of inspiration on the right.

How we took these photos.

1. We laid out hundreds of photos and Eliza chose the kind of hair and make-up she would like which included a beautiful smoky eye. We wanted to make sure she still looked natural so left a nude lip and her beautiful skin fresh.

2. I wanted to create simple portraits so I kept the background neutral so that the photo was all about her beauty.

3. We raided the wardrobes and came up with a little retro look.

4. I used the front room in my sisters home that had really large windows. I made sure she was close to the window and a long way from the back wall so the light fall off would darken the background and she would pop.

5. We raided the garden and added a hibiscus for a little retro Hawaiian inspiration.

6. Eliza did the rest!!


“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller


  • Wow, Carla, Eliza is SO beautiful! I remember loving the photo of her in Italian Joy (so cute and sweet!) and I love these as well – the colours are so striking against the dark background. Your family is super fortunate to have you to take these images of them. xox

    February 1, 2013 at 9:15 am
    • Thank-you Natasha she is beautiful inside and out and a dream to photograph xxCarla

      February 1, 2013 at 10:26 am
  • Oh. My. Gosh, Carla! I know Eliza’s adorable photo from Italian Joy, which pretty much lives on my coffee table ~ is she really that grown up now? Amazing! She’s such a natural beauty, and I especially love her smiling in that last shot. What a special experience for you to have together. Have a lovely weekend…

    February 1, 2013 at 9:39 am
    • Yes this is her grown up and gorgeous minus the tiara! we had a great day together Carla x

      February 1, 2013 at 10:27 am
  • Stunning photos Carla. Eliza has the most beautiful eyes. What a special time you got to spend together taking these. Jx

    February 1, 2013 at 9:43 am
    • Hi Jess such a special time we had so fun doing the whole hair and makeup experience with them! xx

      February 1, 2013 at 10:28 am
  • Andrea

    Gorrrrgeous photos, Carla. What a fun time you would have had together in the shoot!

    February 1, 2013 at 10:15 am
  • Andrea so much fun and thanks for the compliment Carla x

    February 1, 2013 at 10:29 am
  • bet Eliza loves Carla and vice versa!

    February 1, 2013 at 11:53 am
  • Thea

    Mesmerizing photos, she is so beautiful Carla. I get lost in those sea green eyes.. wonderful photos as ever. Thank you for your inspiration x

    February 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm
  • So very beautiful–and it shows that it is inside and out. How wonderful that she will have these photos of that very special age. I do too and treasure them.

    February 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm
  • Love the eyebrows!Dont let anyone tell you to change them!A beautiful girl CARLA!I see job potential here in the modeling world!!!!!

    February 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm
  • She is beautiful. Words don’t teach so maybe these photos will show her how beautiful + precious she is. How lucky to have an auntie like Carla.

    February 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm
  • Eliza is stunning! She is incredibly enchanting with a beautiful, magical Frido Kahlo aura. What a precious memory for her to have with your wonderful images.

    February 2, 2013 at 1:26 am
  • That post is so beautiful Carla. Both your words and Eliza are luminous. The girls have been blessed to have your for their aunt as well. xx

    February 2, 2013 at 2:58 am
  • Eliza is so lovely and I agree blessed to have you as her aunty.

    February 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm
  • Your niece is a beautiful girl.
    Carla, I had similar experiences to you in highschool. I was a little extra hairy, but only made worse by the contrast of super pale skin and dark hair. Long story short I endured a lot of physical pain to attain other teenagers concept of beauty. But now I love my thick eyebrows and mostly accept my body for what it is… Though I’m not sure about my chin hairs that have come along the last few years. ;p

    February 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm
  • Hi Carla, Eliza is absolutely gorgeous. Love the natural hawaiian theme, she looks beautiful. A perfect muse:) Happy Monday Carla,

    February 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm
  • oh, Carla – such beautiful photographs.

    and how delicious that you are an Aunt too.

    so are we.

    a Very Good Role (and a tiny bit Auntie Mame over here at times 😉


    February 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm
  • jeanette coulson

    Hi Carla Once again the photos are beautiful and so is my Grand daughter You have done amazing work while herewhile on your “holiday,”Love Mumxxx

    February 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm
  • What a beautiful niece you have, Carla. She’s just gorgeous! Love these shots.

    Clare x

    February 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm