“I have arrived at the point as a photographer where I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of a photo I want hanging on my walls,” says Carla Coulson. The Paris-based Australian photographer is currently working on creating a series of fine art prints, some of which are already available on her website. She’s also working on her ninth book. Several of the books have been collaborations, such as Naples A Way of Love with Lisa Clifford and French Essence with Vicki Archer [interview]. “Working with these great women has been a treat as what they have taught me along the way,” Carla says. She has started to run workshops in Australia and Italy based on her experiences. “We are living in exciting times,” she says. “Technology has opened up so many opportunities and given many people the chance to live a life that 30 years ago may not have been possible. I feel fortunate to be one of them.”
The original interview (reproduced below) was published on 28 November 2008.
A book that I often return to is My French Life by Vicki Archer [interview here]. It is in equal parts due to the images of photographer Carla Coulson as the story of Vicki's restoration of a beautiful home in the south of France. Carla has recently released a book on another iconic place and its people - Paris Tango. Her photography career began after she decided to leave the Sydney-based business she'd been running for over a decade and go to live in Italy. It was there that she studied photography and found her path, which she chronicles in her first publication Italian Joy. Since publishing her first photography story in Marie Claire Australian in 2002, she has had her work featured in a range of magazines including Vogue Entertaining and Travel, Gourmet Traveller, Harpers Bazaar and Qantas. Carla has been based in Paris since 2004.
What was the starting point for your book Paris Tango? My first job in Paris was for Italian fashion magazine Collezioni. They asked me to photograph details of couture at the ateliers of John Paul Gaultier, Dior, Christian Lacroix and Valentino. It was a wonderful experience entering these places with so much Parisian history. I thought, "Wow, imagine if I could show everyone this!" The seed was planted and during a three-year period I sought out many special places and Parisians and the culmination is Paris Tango.
And what about Italian Joy, what's the story behind that book? Italian Joy is my love letter to Italy. At the beginning of 2000 I changed my life. I left behind a business I had in Sydney for 13 years and moved to Italy to learn photography. Italian Joy is a photographic journal of my experience and all the wonderful things I found along the way in Italy including rediscovering the simple pleasures in life.
Which five words best describe you? I asked my boyfriend to help with this. Messy, funny, enthusiastic, open and passionate.
What's your proudest achievement? Surviving eight years as a freelance photographer in a foreign country.
Who inspires you? Artists, photographers, architects, nature and the man on the street.
What are you passionate about? Photography and life. I think they go hand in hand, if you love one then it is easy to love the other.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? Patience; it has taken eight years to beat the "multitasker" out of me and I feel liberated.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? There are so many but I often think I would love to speak with the generation of my great grandparents. They are the keepers to so many ways and secrets that our society has lost. Also, I love Italian fashion photographer Paolo Roversi.
What's next? More photos!
What are you reading? Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser, Death in the Mountains by Lisa Clifford and The Middle Sea by John Julius Norwich.
images courtesy of carla coulson