For our July/August 21 Femme d’Affaires feature, we sat down with author, photographer and life coach Carla Coulson. We chatted about her numerous professional experiences, lessons learned and how we can reinvent ourselves – at any age. Check out a portion of the interview below!
Carla, both your professional and personal journeys have been diverse and eclectic. Could you give us a brief rundown of your CV to date?
During my 20s and 30s, I had a successful business in Australia selling clothing, but I was missing a sense of purpose, community and adventure. I basically had an early mid-life crisis and swapped Sydney for Italy to start anew. I studied photography in Florence and went on to become a travel photographer, working with magazines and publishing books, including My French Life with Vicki Archer.
In 2004, my husband and I moved to Paris, where I started a private portrait business celebrating women. A decade later in 2014, I embarked on another new path as a life coach. Now I get to help women reconnect with their imagination, joy and purpose to create lives they love.
What lessons did you learn from your early success in business?
That everything is valuable. Even when you think something is a waste of time, you’re still learning. Those skills can be utilized down the line.
When you were a practicing photographer, you offered women the opportunity for a photo portrait experience. How did this visual work evolve into your coaching today, and how are the two intertwined?
Photography is an amazing tool for observation. Working with women, I tread softly and come to understand their fears and what makes them feel confident. When a woman lets go — that’s when you find the magic.
Similar to capturing a portrait, life coaching lets you see what’s holding people back. Only then do they begin to identify possibilities in themselves. A woman can start to view herself in a different light, just like a beautiful photo might show, and when she regains her confidence, she is unstoppable. Women have incredible, innate gifts: inventiveness, intuition, the ability to nurture and empathize. As both a photographer and a coach, I love reconnecting them to these superpowers!
Why did you want to become a life coach? What made you realize you were ready to share your experiences?
In 2005, I published Italian Joy, my visual diary of moving to Italy and fulfilling my desire to become a photographer. From then on, people started asking me how they could change their lives, too.
In 2014, as fate would have it, I did a shoot with two life coaches. When I questioned them about their jobs, they spoke about the tools to help people transform in ways unique to them, and it really resonated with me.