Interview by Nina Tsipuria
“Australian photographer, who lives in Paris and loves Italy” – this is the first phrase you’ll find in Google about Carla Coulson. 30 years old Carla, living in Sydney and making her super successful business, one day leaves everything and arrives in Italy. That’s the place where her new chapter of life starts. Today she is world known photographer, life coach, and author of 8 books.
Her aim is to empower women who are 40, 50, 60+, to make sure they aren’t too late to fulfill their dreams and desires through Carla’s program YES, YES, YES, – The Year You Say Yes To Yourself.
Carla Coulson exclusively spoke to Nina Tsipuria about her life story, adventures, and dreams that came true.
The first thing I found about you was this phrase – “Australian portrait and travel photographer, who lives in Paris and loves Italy!” I would like you to look back and tell me about your first trip to Italy, how did this journey begin?
This journey began because I was living the wrong life. I had a business in Sydney, I was almost 35 years old, still single and the material things I had didn’t bring me joy, love, and passion, the things I craved.
One day in Sydney, I had a total meltdown when I won the best client at my local Thai Takeaway restaurant for eating more Thai than anyone else that year! It’s funny now but at the time I was heartbroken but finally, the message to change was loud and clear. Through the tears, I knew I had to get out of where I was and what I was doing so I called my business partner and told him I needed a year off.
Italy was on my list and when I arrived I felt my entire body relax and come alive at the same time. I was planning to stay a month but I stayed for five years! I left my business and studied photography in Florence and I carried my camera with me day and night and each day I couldn’t wait to get into the darkroom to see what I had captured.
You worked as a photographer before you became a life coach, but before becoming a photographer in your twenties you started a business with your best friend which became successful, you turned over more than $1,000,000 before your 30th birthday, what can a woman in her 30ies imagine anything better? But you weren’t happy with this, why? What were you looking for?
I wanted a life that meant something. I wanted to wake up and care about what I did, I wanted to feel joy and passion instead of feeling like my life was on repeat day after day. There is nothing greater than being connected to something you deeply care about that calls you to jump out of bed each day and to push you to keep going when things are really difficult.
Which were the hardest times in your life?
The hardest time in my life was before I became a photographer and I didn’t understand why I had a life that looked good on the outside but inside I felt lost and lonely. I didn’t have the tools to know how to get out so there is a sense of desperation and confusion as you are stuck but there is no clear path out.
When did you decide to become a life coach? Who or what inspired you?
I wrote my first book “Italian Joy” in 2004 talking about changing my life and my love for Italy. From this book, people would contact me and ask how to change their life but I didn’t want to recommend what I did. It worked for me but I know that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses so there is no ‘one-fits-all plan’. When I photographed a life coach in Paris and asked her what it was, it sounded amazing and she invited me to one of her conferences. I signed up the same day and learned many skills and tools to help people find the right path for them. This is the power of Life Coaching, a tailored designed plan to help you find what’s right for you.
Life coaching is a new profession and new practice for people, and a lot of people are willing to learn coaching. What is the most important thing to know when you are a coach?
To really listen. Listen to the words that the person in front of you is saying as there is a key in the choice of words. Be curious, be willing to ask questions that may make you feel uncomfortable and remember it’s about your clients journey and what is true for them. Supporting them along the way to change their limiting beliefs and to take action, small steps day by day.
I can’t miss the chance to ask about “Flower Girls”. How did the idea come about?
This was another happy accident of me taking photos of things I was attracted to, flowers and doors. I noticed that on my Instagram people always like these more than other photos, so I asked myself the question ‘how could I put these two subjects together and make them mine? The answer was with a girl in the image. The series developed from there. The stories and inspiration came from the young girls around me at the time and how they reminded me of myself when I was young and how many insecurities we have. I wanted to create something beautiful to inspire women to believe in themselves.
And my last question – “Does money buy happiness?” – what would you say to people who believe that money buys happiness and what would you say to people who believe in the opposite?
Money buys a lot of things and money isn’t bad and we don’t have to choose one or the other. This is a very valuable lesson I learned about becoming a life coach. We develop a belief system generally when we are young and through life experiences that tell us about how we relate to a subject and money is a big one of them!!! We all have beliefs about money.
Money is currency and currency is energy, so it can make your life a whole lot better. When you deny yourself money you can also look at it as denying yourself energy. I took this road when I became a photographer, as in my previous experience I believed it was the money that hadn’t fulfilled me but actually, that wasn’t its fault!!!!
Happiness is something else that doesn’t necessarily come with money but you can be happy with and without money. I believe happiness comes from being in alignment with what is true for you and feeling like your life counts, knowing why you get out of bed in the morning and being in service to humanity in your own unique way.