Travel Photography Series Part 5 – Colour Palettes

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Octopus Panino Polignano A Mare Copyright Carla Coulson

For those of you who love travel photography I started a Travel Photography series a while back. The series was in four parts and covers food, people, architecture and events and if you missed them the links are at the end of this post.

I have been meaning forever to add a chat about colour palettes as it is important when creating a travel story so I have added a fifth part to this series.

Colour is one of the most powerful tools we have to use in photography. And when you look around life just serves up the most extraordinary colour situations and is often repeated in the strangest of subjects. Love this!

The way we use colour in our images talks about what we want to say, what mood we want to create, what feelings we want to heighten and it can also speak of your style. Just the way painters choose a colour palette when creating a canvas we can do the same thing with photography.

Some photographers will go out of their way to avoid a certain colour or go in search of their favourite colours across a range of subjects.

The language of magazines and the way an art director will put together a story revolves around the way images sit harmoniously together and it all depends on the colour.

Here’s a quick look at some colour palettes:

Neutral Colours

Nordic photographers are famous for their simple colour palettes based around white and neutral tones of beige and grey which bring a sense of calm, serenity and cleanliness to their images.

blue and white

Neutral Colours of blue, terracotta and green at Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

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Neutral colours of white beige and brown repeated in statues in a workshop and the baroque streets of Martina Franca

Copyright Carla Coulson

Spot Colour

Shooting a spot colour can be loads of fun, like going on a treasure hunt. You can focus on one particular colour that appears in all sorts of different situations with a neutral background.  It could be red repeated in a jumper, a sign, scarf, or a door or in the case below the green doors, curtains and shutters against the white backdrop of Puglia. It adds a pop of energy to your images.


 Spot colour on the streets of Ceglie Messapica and Door Martina Franca Copyright Carla Coulson

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 Neutral colours of white and blue repeated in the streets, shirt and umbrella

with a spot colour of yellow repeated in the tie and doorway

Local boy and a street in Ceglie Messapica Copyright Carla Coulson

Bright Colours

Bright, strong saturated colours bring a sensation of energy to a photo if combined harmoniously. When I was shooting the pics below on different days in different locations I was surprised at the repetition of royal blue and orange..

travel photography puglia, carla coulson, colour palettes, san vito polignano a mare, blue orange,

Beach Polignano A Mare and San Vito Polignano A Mare Copyright Carla Coulson

There are loads of other colour palettes you can choose to photograph including beautiful pastels, serene blues, dark colours to add mood or quirky colour combinations.

Depending on your aesthetic as a photographer as to which colour palettes you will find pleasing.

If you would love to hone your travel photography skills and shoot colour palettes to your heart’s content you might like to join me and my ‘Caravan’ and travel to the yet to be discovered part of Puglia in Southern Italy (where my hubby’s from and in the pics above) with like-minded souls. It’s gonna be fun! All details here.

If you want to read more travel photography posts you might like these about Food, People, Architecture and Events.

My Favourite Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

Canon EF 24-70mm 

Canon EF 35mm 

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


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Are You Tired Of Putting Everybody First?

carla coulson, caravan travel photography workshop, puglia, italy, travel photography

Do you feel like you are the last on the list behind your partner, children, work commitments, cats, dogs, shopping, running a household and there is never enough time for you to do the things you love?

Back in the year 2000 before I left my life this is exactly how I felt. I felt like I put everything else before me and doing the things I loved.  I was always way down at the bottom of the list. I never stopped and made time for myself and what I loved. It always felt like there was something more pressing or important to do.

Well, one day I did something drastic about it when I could no longer stand the feeling of coming last.  I left my life, my job, my apartment, my country and my friends and went off on an adventure to find out what I loved in life. But I am not recommending you do that right now!

I have another solution.

If you would like to walk away from your life for just a week, try something you thought you might be good at or take your photography skills to new levels we’d love you to join us on the Caravan Travel Photography Workshop in beautiful Puglia.

We (me, another talented photographer and my fabulous staff) promise you one thing. You will be at the top of the list for a full 7 days. There will be no washing up, no organising accommodation or restaurants, no booking hotels and transfers, no-one to look after except yourself, your camera and the photos you want to take!


Caravan Travel Photography Workshop 2014 from Carla Coulson on Vimeo.

Here’s a little taste of what it could be like. If you are viewing this on an email click here

For for the full story on this bespoke workshop click here.

I would love to help you explore something you have always dreamed of.

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.???

Ella Fitzgerald


Grottaglie A Ceramics Town – My Addresses

Grottaglie, Ceramics town, Puglia, Carla Coulson, travel photography workshop

Grottaglie from the terrace of Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

All photos Copyright Carla Coulson 

Imagine a town that has survived for hundreds of years on making beautiful hand-made ceramics. Add a twist of Southern Italian charm, workshops dug into soft stone to form grottos (grottaglie – that’s where the name comes from) and hundreds of artisans turning clay into pots, jugs, plates, cups, saucers, statues and other works of art – then you would have Grottaglie.

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Ceramics  La Grotta Ceramiche  Copyright Carla Coulson

I discovered Grottaglie a couple of summers ago when Francesco and I were at the beach and it became too crowded so we decided to head inland for lunch (no Italian in their right mind would do this in August) but this is one of our tricks to finding something magical and real.

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Ceramics  La Grotta Ceramiche  Copyright Carla Coulson

And that is exactly what happened. We found the magical Grottaglie.. I could hardly wait to finish lunch to start snooping around the hundreds of ceramic workshops.

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Hand turned vases at Fratelli Ciro e Grazio Monteforte

And we didn’t walk away empty handed…

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Hand turned pots  La Grotta Ceramiche  Copyright Carla Coulson

So when I started planning the Caravan Travel Photography Workshop I started to think of all the things I loved about Puglia and Grottaglie sprang to mind.

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Carmelo takes a break at Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

I decided to include the things I would do if I was to shoot a story on a region, include the things that I love, that visually excite me and I knew would make for interesting pics.

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Collection of antique water jugs Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

So back I went to Grottaglie and with the help of Francesca Frisa we toured many beautiful workshops and met many great artisans.

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hand painted plates in the workshop of Giuseppe Patronelli

Grottaglie has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age and is just up the rode from one of the first Greek settlements in Italy, Taranto.

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Wash basin Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

The local stone is called tufo In Italian and is soft enough to be able to dig into.  Since Medieval times there have been caves dug around what is now the castle and slowly they were taken over and used as ceramic workshops.

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Seconds on the terrace Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

Many finds around Grottaglie date back to the Classical age and the Museo Delle Ceramiche in Grottaglie has the whole story!

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Mimmo Vestita painting at Mimmo Vestita Ceramics

But on any given day you can turn up in Grottaglie and walk the area known as the Quartier dell Ceramiche and go from one workshop to the next and see artisans turning clay, painting, dipping statues in white and creating every imaginable statue possible.

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 Paints and brushes at Giuseppe Patronelli

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Ceramiche Domenico Caretta di Pietro Caretta

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 Workshop of Giuseppe Patronelli

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Antonio La of La Grotta Ceramiche  Copyright Carla Coulson

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Exterior  La Grotta Ceramiche  Copyright Carla Coulson

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 Fountain Casa Vestita

Whilst walking from workshop to workshop with Francesca she told me about Mimmo Vestita who had an incredible Mediterranean garden right in the middle of town and who recently whilst renovating the garden had discovered the floor of a Roman Villa and a byzantine crypt.

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Antique Mediterranean garden Casa Vestita

I had co-incidently seen his garden and crypt in the beautiful magazine Cote Sud and begged to have a look.

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Ancient wine pots in the  Mediterranean garden of  Casa Vestita

It was a garden like I had never seen before. So beautiful in it’s simplicity and it’s devotion to the Mediterranean climate, plants and his collection of over 4000 pieces of ceramic.

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 Mimmo Vestita in his splendid Mediterranean garden Casa Vestita

Mimmo generously opened his garden to the ‘Caravaners’ and kindly showed us the floor of the Roman Villa his renovator found whilst restoring the garden.

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Byzantine fresco in the crypt at Casa Vestita

He also lead us down in to the exquisite Byzantine crypt that had been closed for over 400 years.

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Part of the byzantine crypt at Casa Vestita

Whilst restoring another part of the garden and pulling away broken debris and trees the gardener found a carved column. They called in the archaeological society and together they went on a magical mystery tour and found a true treasure the underground crypt.

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 Grottaglie’s Mediterranean garden in front of the castle entrance.

If you are in Puglia don’t miss a visit to beautiful Grottaglie. She’s real, she’s artistic, she hasn’t been trussed up for the tourists and there are many wonderful photos to be had.

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A giant vase inside the Ceramics Museo della Ceramiche Grottaglie

The fabulous Ceramics Museum has a collection of ceramics from the beginning of time, it’s a journey through history and habits, of simplicity, decoration and form and…. it’s free.

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 A view of the castle from Mimmo Vestita’s terrace

All photos Copyright Carla Coulson 

A giant round of applause to the all the artisans who gave their time and talent to us, who allowed us into their bottega’s to see how they work, create and maintain an ancient tradition. True southern hospitality at it’s most generous. I look forward to showing the participants work soon.

By the way, try leaving empty handed!

My addresses:

Casa Vestita

Via Crispi, 63


This is a private Mediterranean garden and the best one I have seen to date. Mimmo Vestita, the owner has a ceramics workshop up the road and not long ago unearthed a Byzantine Crypt underneath his garden and the floor of a Roman Villa. He opens the garden to the public for a small fee in August from 6pm to 10pm and regularly has exhibitions of some of his 4000 pieces of antique ceramics. DON’T MISS IT!! Follow on Facebook here.

Mimmo Vestita

via Santa Sofia


Mimmo’s bottega is up a little set of stairs and removed from the street but worth sourcing out. He sells beautiful objects for the home, vases and water jugs.

Antonio La Grotta Ceramiche

via Papa Leone XIII, 9

74023 Grottaglie

Antonio La Grotta comes from a long line of ceramists and still hand paints beautiful traditional design in all forms.

Guiseppe Patronelli

via Crispi, 23


Specialises in hand painted plates and pure white dinner services (I bought one)

Fratelli Ciro e Grazio Monteforte

via Salita Camini, 1


Beautiful Maolica pieces with colourful traditional designs

Cocci D’Autore

via Santa Sofia, 11


Heavenly white statues dipped in white

Pro Loco Grottaglie

This is the local tourist office and one of the most helpful in Italy. This should be your first stop when you arrive in Grottaglie to gather information on what you are looking for and where to eat!

You can follow the fabulous Casa Vestita here





“Each has his own happiness in his hands, as the artist handles the rude clay he seeks to reshape it into a figure; yet is is the same with this art as with all others: only the capacity for it is innate; art itself must be learned and painstaking”. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


If you want to know how you can live more wholeheartedly, reconnect to your joy, creativity and purpose, download my Free Workbook above.

Puglia – Masseria Cimino

Masseria Cimino, Carla Coulson

Long before you arrive at Masseria Cimino you are struck by the sight of ancient olive trees that resemble sculptures, twisted over hundreds of years with winds, run and the scorching sun.

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 Ancient Olives Trees Puglia Copyright Carla Coulson

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 Olive Trees Puglia Copyright Carla Coulson

These ancient olive trees have always been one of my favourite things about Puglia, a reminder of how old this land is and how deeply ingrained the olive tree is in the culture and history.

Masseria Cimino, Carla Coulson

 Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

I decided to make Masseria Cimino a part of the first Caravan Travel Photography Workshop for a couple of reasons. I loved it’s exquisite make-over, not too flashy and not too rustic, somewhere in between.

And I knew it would make the perfect setting for the photographers to take interior and exterior shots and as a background to shoot food.

Masseria Cimino, Carla Coulson

 The sun beds copyright Carla Coulson

Masseria Cimino is an exquisite palette of white broken only by the local vegetation of cactus trees, olives and rosemary and the soft blue they have chosen for the doors, windows and furniture.

Masseria Cimino, Carla Coulson

 Entrance Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

There is one original red wall and we all went mad shooting it.

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And Masseria Cimino has the coolest uniforms.. beautiful Viviana in her gorgeous uniform.

The Bar Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

The furniture in the interior of the bar has been constructed of concrete in the simple way they do in the Greek Islands and a clever interior designer has added lovely soft furnishings in white and beige. Cactus leaves hang as decoration in the main room. I learnt later on the trip this was a traditional custom, the Pugliese do this to conserve the fruit that grows on this plant so they can eat it fresh for months to come.

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 Details of the Cactus leaves Copyright Carla Coulson

I was a little bit excited about the cactus leaves!

Masseria Cimino, Carla Coulson

Rooms Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

Although I was teaching and didn’t have a lot of time to shoot it was such a graphic exterior to shoot I couldn’t help but grab a couple of shots on the hop.

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 Rooms Masseria Copyright Carla Coulson

I adore the textures of traditional stone paving, white walls dotted with blue and a grapevine for shelter. Divine colour palette..

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Athalee Brown and a stone wall Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

Workshop organiser Athalee Brown’s caftan matched the stone wall and cactus and I couldn’t resist a pic..

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 Dining Room Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

Masseria Ciminio has respected many traditional ways and incorporated them into the decor, design and food. Tomatoes hang in the dining room, food is served on locally made ceramic plates with beautiful white linen and the menu is ladened with local products.

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Tomatoes Hang in the dining room Masseria Cimino copyright Carla Coulson

I hoped you enjoyed a little glimpse into this beautiful space in Puglia. I loved staying here and if you are visiting Puglia you might like it too! You can check out their website here.

“There is a single thread of attitude, a single direction of flow, that joins our present time to its early burgeoning in Mediterranean civilization.Arthur Erickson





If you want to know how you can live more wholeheartedly, reconnect to your joy, creativity and purpose, download my Free Workbook above.

The Decisive Moment – Taking Better Photos

Image Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

I know so many of you gorgeous folk who tune into my blog on a regular basis would love to take better photos or maybe become a photographer.

Well, you all know I love photography so I will do anything I can to help you take better pics and another step on your path to becoming a photographer.

Today I would like to talk about something close to my heart and it is the phrase coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson, ‘The Decisive Moment’.

Cartier-Bresson has always been one of the big Kahuna’s on my photography list of heros and he truly was a renaissance man. He took amazing photos, painted and some of his words are the most poetic and to the point that I have ever read (certainly on photography).

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

As Cartier-Bresson said “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment” and for us photographers making that decision when is the decisive moment, when all the photography planets align and we hit the shutter, is nail-biting stuff.

Cartier-Bresson went on to say “To take photographs means to recognize – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second – both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis”.

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

I cut my teeth on street photography and working with film was one of the greatest lessons I had in learning my decisive moment.

Often I felt like I was a tiger laying in wait, my heart in my throat, my body coiled, my breath taken from my body, waiting for that perfect hundredth of a second when the little boy jumping off the rocks was in the right position or the lady walking past a funny poster was in the right spot at exactly the right moment and bingo I squeezed the shutter.

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

“Photography is not like painting,” Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oops! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

Digital photography is fabulous, convenient and instant but to take great photos you need to still pick that decisive moment and know in your gut without looking at your LCD screen that you ‘have it’.

Here’s some tips on how to practice getting the decisive moment:

1. Tape the LCD Screen on the back of your camera (many great shots have been lost because photographers are obsessed with looking at the LCD screens).

2. Take your camera off continuous and shoot on single shot (this way you just get one go at it).

3. Take a half-a-day and go out to take photos with the express idea of catching the decisive moment. If you come home with just one great shot pat yourself on your back.

4. Feel the photo, feel the moment, trust your gut instinct and hit the shutter when you know it is right. Don’t check the screen, leave the tape on and when you have finished at the end of the day see if your gut instinct about which shots you thought you captured was right.

5. Get in the habit of really looking through the view finder and wait, wait, wait.  This is the greatest life lesson I have learnt as a photographer that a lot of getting the right shot is waiting for it to happen. In the case of the lady in the 2nd shot in front of the ‘maid in Italy’ poster,  I hung around that poster for almost 20 minutes waiting until the ‘right’ person came along. I waited till she walked between the girls arms and I just got lucky that she was speaking with her hands.

6. Be part of life. In all the above shots I was out amongst life and sharing the joy of others. I was treading water for 15 minutes before the little boy jumped off the rocks with his arms out in the 1st shot and I was treading water when I squeezed the shutter as he jumped. I knew in that moment I had got the shot long before I saw the film.

Oh and always have fun!

My Favourite Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EF 24-70mm

Canon EF 35mm

“As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life.”  Henri Cartier-Bresson





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