An Interview With Carla Coulson, Photographer

Carla Coulson gave up a corporate career in Sydney to pursue her true passion - photography - halfway across the world in Florence. Eight years later, she has since moved to Paris and built an impressive portfolio of work for Marie Claire, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Collezione, Vogue Entertaining + Travel, and Flair. She has also published a series of beautiful and inspiring books: Italian Joy, My French Life and Paris Tango. Carla very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions. Read on!

You left a corporate job in Sydney to move to Florence and become a photographer. Do you have any words of advice for people who are considering a career change?
Yes, go for it but try and prepare yourself first. Try and understand what it is exactly you want to do and where you would like to establish yourself. Go about preparing yourself for the change. Take as many as courses as you can, prepare yourself financially and start building up contacts. Try and meet other people who are doing what you would like to do and ask them how they achieved it.

As a freelancer, what steps did you take to get your work published in the beginning ?
I put together a couple of different photographic stories, one of which was a travel story on Naples and then I rang all the magazines I was interested in working with and made appointments. The second magazine I saw was Marie Claire Australia and they bought the story. I continued to produce different travel stories for another six months until one of the magazines eventually commissioned me. When I had tear sheets things started to become easier.

Who are some of your favourite photographers?
I love the dreamy pics of Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi. Also love the black and white work of Peter Lindbergh and the fun and colour of Ellen Von Unwerth. Australians Trent Parke and Narelle Autio continue to inspire me.
Describe a typical day on the job.
Every day is different. When I am shooting I make sure I am well prepared days in advance. I think about what I want to shoot and how I want to do it. I make a checklist of everything right down to spare batteries for cameras and flashes. I always like to be prepared, sometimes even doing a test shoot before the day. If I am shooting a well known person, I research them, trying to see what images have already been taken and also a little background on them. Anything to make the day run smoothly.

Do you have a favourite type of camera that you use, or a range of them?
Yes, I love Leica cameras. I have two. A Leica M6 and M7 that I have used for all my own personal work over the past 6 years. When I have these cameras in my hand I have to think less about what I am doing and therefore I can concentrate more on the creativity. I love the quality of the lens and the camera is amazing in low light situations. As I love using the available light they are perfect. I have on my wish list a digital Leica M8...

You've lived in Sydney, Florence and Paris. What's your favorite thing about each city?
Every city has their good points. In Sydney I love the beach and the relaxed feel and the big blue sky. In Florence the architecture and the art never ceases to inspire me (food is pretty good too). In Paris the Parisian flair for doing everything beautifully. Also the sheer volume and quality of exhibitions in this town is unbeatable.

Finally, you just published a book called Paris Tango, about all aspects of life in the French capital. I can't help but ask - what do you think makes Parisians so stylish?
I think there are a number of factors contributing to the Parisians being stylish. First, their history. They were always known as the most elegant court in Europe and their love for fines things is centuries old. Haute Couture was born in Paris; here there is a culture of craftsmen and artisans that continue to inspire the designers and I think there is a real pride in dressing in Paris. Also the weather contributes. Jackets, gloves and hats are de rigeur in winter and when you come from a city like Sydney, where we dress so casually, everything here appears stylish.

Thank you Carla! Make sure you check out her lovely blog, "Carla Loves Photography", for more amazingly beautiful pictures and updates on her latest projects.

Photo credits:


  1. O my! What a wonderful, pithy interview. You did so well. I'm in awe of people who manage to successfully commit themselves to a creative career after years of doing something else. You actually introduced me to Carla's blog!

  2. What an inspiring interview, thank you so much for sharing, am daydreaming of a career change, and these words sure do help it seem doable :)

  3. great interview & pics! She's a lovely girl!

  4. thanks for the interview. makes the notion of 'career change' plausible.
    i'm still in highschool, my mum wants me to go into a boring money raking job and i feel like the world is going to end if i dont go to art school.

    thank you. :)

  5. Yes, I still have plenty of postcards to swap! :)
    I'll email you now.

  6. such a great interview. very inspirational and informative. thanks to you both!

  7. Amazing! I love her response to the first question -- so inspiring (:

  8. Great interview, and I absolutely love the photos! <3


  9. I adore Carla's work! Fabulous interview!!


  10. she is so fabulous and inspiring! i got that book for my birthday and i love it to pieces. she has such a beautiful style. great interview.

    hope you are well!


  11. fabulous interview - thanks for visiting to let me know this was here - I la la love Carla's books and have read them all cover to cover..this was the icing on the cake

  12. I love her work---and what an amazing interview! I want to be her (or you!) when I grow up!

  13. Gorgeous! She's talented!

    juliet xxx

  14. Fabulous interview!

    La C.

  15. I just stumbled across your blog and found this interview. I love reading about people who make a transition from corporate life to the creative world, as I'm still in the process of doing that myself, through writing. I'm linking to you now. :)