Find your passion – Carla Coulson…in her own words

The words “Find your passion…make it happen” is the way this topic started. It was a post that was always going to be written… there is nothing I believe in more than “being passionate about what you do… being passionate about life”. But like “ideas”… passion is not enough. Everyone has ideas but its the execution that makes the difference. Finding your passion is only half the equation. Having the courage to make it happen is another thing altogether.

A few years ago I remember walking through Borders in Melbourne. If you enjoy reading then Borders is like the biggest candy store in town. Different sections depending on mood…you can sit and lose yourself. That day I walked through on my way to my usual sections (most fiction – with the exception of great spy novels – does nothing for me), biographies, business, philosophy, computer manuals (tragically boring …. I know). To get there I had to walk through the travel section and it was there that my eye first caught a glimpse of a book that made me stop. The book was called “Italian Joy” by Carla Coulson.    

If you love reading quality books about personal adventures, inspirational tales of self-discovery, people chasing their dream and making it happen…. not to mention totally sublime book design and simply great photography, then your collection is in my mind quite simply “incomplete” unless you have this book.

Carla left a comment in the “find your passion” post last week that made me think “damn… that’s it, finding your passion is like falling in love”. You just know it when it happens. You feel it. It consumes you !

Lucky for all of us… Carla also had the internal drive to “make it happen”. 

The following is all about Carla finding her passion… in her own inspirational words & images

“I remember distinctly the moment I fell in love with photography. I was standing in the darkroom at my photographic school in Florence, shrouded in silence and a soft red light.  I had developed my first ever roll of film and I was in the process of printing my first image, a little girl laughing. I put the exposed blank paper in the developer, rattled it from side to side and like magic, slowly an image started to appear. The longer I stayed watching the paper in the dark, the stronger the image became, until the little girl laughed right at me. I took my tweezers, gently picked up the photo, studying the blacks and the whites and all the shades in between. I marvelled at the transformation I had just witnessed and the beauty of holding something in my hands that I had created. I went back to the enlarger and picked another photo and repeated the exercise with the same wonder and enthusiasm. Bewitched, I stayed in the darkroom all day, and long into the night.

Since that day I have often thought about my relationship with photography. The closest emotion I have found to describe this relationship is like being in love. 

When you are in love with someone, there is no rhyme or reason as to what you will and will not do, you simply follow your passion. Time no longer matters, you will stay up all night just to listen to their voice or fly to the other side of the world to spend a week with them, when you know the bank account can’t take it. You will do anything for that person; you will fold their washing like it is the most important washing in the world or cross town late at night in the pouring rain to see them, and without giving it a moment’s thought. Love has no fatigue. Your heart leaps when the phone rings and almost breaks when the door opens and your loved one is standing in front of you with a bouquet of hand-picked flowers. The smallest gestures give you the greatest pleasure.

During that first day and night in the darkroom, a fire was ignited inside me. A big burning volcano of fire that still erupts and flows today, that has a life all of its own, as unpredictable as Etna or Vesuvius. It was the first time I remember being ‘in love’ with something that wasn’t a person. I was filled with an unending energy and enthusiasm for life, a passion I never knew existed and I learnt something incredible about myself that I would never have discovered otherwise. I was a passionate person!

I have waited poised, my camera in hand for hours praying the right person will walk into my photo dressed in the right clothes or walking with the right swagger. I have left the house in the rain, the wind and the snow searching for something special and walked up to perfect strangers entranced by their face begging for a photo. I have climbed to the top of a mountain at dawn lugging 40 kilos to get the best light possible and flown half way across the world on a photographic ‘hunch’. I have spent hours, weeks and months carrying my camera in Greece, Italy, France, Australia and India and I have enjoyed those heart flips when I have captured something truly wonderful on film. I have spent my last dollars travelling for a photo and if I could count the hours that I have spent on photography it would make no sense to anyone but me.

And I have never asked why? I just do it like someone in love.

Ten years ago, I gave up the unthinkable, a comfortable life, a cushy job and all the financial perks that go along with it, on a whim, to chase a life and a way of living that would ignite my soul. I gave up a secure future, an eventual superannuation fund and a possible golden handshake on retirement. I swapped all of this for an old camera, uncertainty and hope. In the past ten years my passion for my new way of living hasn’t dimmed.

My reward has been great. I have been rewarded with love. Love for this thing called photography and the relationships, people, places and pure pleasure that it has brought me. My camera has lead my down a path of its own, propelled me to do things I would never have done if it wasn’t by my side, propelled me into places and situations that would have otherwise passed me by. My camera has opened doors and worlds by simply existing and it has allowed me to communicate with people even when we don’t share the same language. My camera has opened up a whole new life for me on the other side of the world, in Florence and Paris, one I still can’t believe is true”.


Italian Joy









Carla Coulson – Photographer



Tip of the hat

That stylish woman from “My Notting Hill” has graciously given this little blog a mention… for which the caveman is very grateful. Speaking of finding your passion this lady has a passion for design which must be a considerable distraction from her consulting work. Lets hope she will be willing to tell us her story  as part of this series soon ;-)




13 responses to “Find your passion – Carla Coulson…in her own words

  1. Hi M –
    I’ve missed you. So nice to read your inspiring words again…and on this post, Carla’s too. She’s great. I’ve been scrolling through, reading what I’ve missed. You always lift my spirits, and today I’ve needed it more than anything. I don’t have time to comment on each individual post but I wanted to let you know that I’ve read them and enjoyed them so much.

  2. I have this book. A dear friend gave it to me and I cherish it. Thank you for sharing this with everyone who has not heard about it or not had the opportunity to purchase it. I believe what she says to be accurate. Excellent blog.

  3. Thank you – mille grazie! –
    for this post. I have only read part of Carla’s inspirational text and will have to come back to study it in depth and then digest what she is trying to communicate. You must know that I have decided to go back to school to become a photographer, my secret passion ever since I got ahold of a little cheap camera when I was a very young teenager.

  4. Great post M… it is so important to remember that the only way a dream can come true is to let go of what may be “comfortable and safe” and just go the way of your passion. Love Carla’s photography and her story!

    • Carol – well said… Carla’s is a great story and hopefully an inspiration for many young photographers.

      Merisi – your photos show your passion…I think the city of Vienna should be paying your “school fees” ;-)

      Madison – “Italian Joy” is a great gift… worth treasuring.

  5. What a wonderful description. I am very fortunate to have worked with Carla and shared her passion for photography – it is totally infectious. Gorgeous post, xv.

  6. I loved so much reading this post ! thank you Michael and Carla…
    i truly admire Carla’s impulse and how she just indulged into her passion, a great example to follow…
    and you are too dear Michael ! your decision to live in Oia and your very uplifting posts are indeed very inspiring !
    thanks again

    • Lala… I thought Carla’s words read like poetry and told her so… she should be proud of what she’s achieved since she “made it happen” and followed her passion (ps: thank you for the kind words xx )

      Josephine…I think you are totally right about Carla’s books and let’s hope there are many more to come. Thank you for commenting & welcome !

      Vicki… your collaboration has made many a woman dream and I’m sure will continue to do so…thank you as always ;-)

  7. Inspiring as always. I am sure Carla’s books have changed many peoples lives. Not only did she have the passsion, that great fire but also the tremendous courage to follow the call…

  8. Carla is one of my heroes! Her work never ceases to amaze me and is proof that she’s living her dream passionately.
    The proof is in the thousand words her photo say. She’s in the right place at the right time every moment of every day to take these incredible shots.

  9. Never have truer words been written. I love Italy, love photography and love Carla. Italian Joy is so aptly named. The book, the words and the images really do provide so much joy.

  10. dear Carla ….i miss you ….and i want to meet you!!!!!!

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