France was in the cards for me the moment I stepped off the plane in high school. The path to making this life a reality was not without its arduous moments but there was a spark I couldn't ignore. For others, it's more of an acquired passion. For Australian photographer Carla Coulson, moving to Paris meant abandoning her first love and longtime home base: Florence. What was meant to be a year stint has turned into nine wildly creative, inspiring years that led her to publish Paris Tango, a tribute to the city.
When she isn't shooting for international magazines, she's hard at work on her portrait series of other women who have fallen for Paris. Below, she shares a few of her favorite things and moments in her adopted home.
Describe what you love about France in three words.
Peeling paint, discretion and love of beauty.
How does life in France inform your work?
When I arrived in Paris one of my first jobs was shooting couture gowns at Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix and Valentino for an Italian fashion magazine. It was an unforgettable introduction to Paris. The French understated aesthetic has woven its way into my work.
Every time I push open one of those oversized heavy doors and enter a courtyard another little bit of Paris magic is revealed. Paris is an incredible backdrop for a photographer and I adore shooting portraits in apartments with faded grandeur or in an unknown corner of Paris.
Favorite place to take first-time visitors?
Deyrolle, it sums up the quirkiness of the French and it’s really a unique place that would only exist in 2013 in Paris (and all animals have died of natural causes). And, of course, the fabulous Merci.
A French memento you always bring home to family in Australia?
Perfume, I am in love with so many French perfumers including Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens and Annick Goutal. I feel like the French ‘own’ perfume! I am addicted to Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle and when I can afford it I give it to everyone I love.
Most frustrating or amusing interaction with the French since you've been here?
Anyone who has ever gone through the process to a get a carte de séjour will understand this story. Getting my French papers was the most demoralizing, frustrating experience and made me truly understand the word ‘powerless’. After months of going to and from the Prefecture to be sent back for another piece of paper the Prefecture promised to call and never did.
After three months had passed with no word I went back, the person I saw wanted to kick me out and the boss stepped in and apologized for not being in touch (first miracle). She told me if I could be back within in one hour with every document they needed (photocopied 400 times), I could have my Carte de Séjour today.
They knew I had no chance as I sprinted out the door. Little did they know that my hubby is the world’s most organized man and he had every document down to the letter he received when he studied at a French university. The photocopier at the post office was free (2nd miracle) and I broke an Olympic record and made it back within one hour. When I walked in the door I could see the ‘get outta of here’ look in the boss’s eye and let out a little laugh of disbelief. She couldn’t believe it and good to her word gave me my carte de sejour that day. I had my first and only ever cigarette!!
Don't miss Carla's fantastic blog Carla Loves Photography and follow her work and travels on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.