JRP: Fashion / Beauty Photographer Peter Coulson is our subject for this segment of James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Peter for sharing time with our readers.
Peter Coulson: Not a problem, thank you for the interview.
JRP: Where do you call home Peter?
Peter Coulson: A beautiful place called Olinda in the Dandenong Mountains, Australia.
JRP: How did you get started in photography? Do you have any formal training?
Peter Coulson: My first experience with photography was when I borrowed my dad’s Minolta for a Chuck Berry’s gig. I was photographing musicians and bands on the side initially. The passion grew over time, I just wanted to create. I can’t sing or paint, but photography I could do. I needed a way to express myself.
I am self-taught. I did go to photography college when I finished school, but was kicked-out after 2 months because I kept asking “why”. They could never answer my questions, and it was frustrating that I couldn’t get the answers.
JRP: Who are some of the photographers that have inspired you and helped to define your approach to photography?
Peter Coulson: I don’t really actively seek inspiration, but I am definitely inspired by the following photographers. It’s very evident in my work. If you know your history, you’ll be able to immediately pick up whose work I enjoy. My main influences would have to be Helmut Newton, Ellen Von Unwerth, Peter Lindbergh, Erwin Olaf, Patrick Demarchelier, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.
JRP: Today you obviously have a competent support staff and a first class studio to work out of but in the beginning what was it like?
Peter Coulson: I actually only have one staff. She helps me out with everything from admin to assisting on shoots. I prefer fewer people on the shoots, it is less distraction for me and the model. In the beginning when I first started fashion and beauty it was just a camera, a car, 1 backdrop, and 1 light.
JRP: What would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot?
Peter Coulson: In the studio, I always use the Hasselblad and my favorite lens is the 100mm. I do have lots of toys, so it would be hard for me to break that down. It really depends on the client, the model, and what look I am after.
In my camera bag, I have my Hasselblad H5D-50c, a tilt shift, and the lens are 24mm, 35mm, 80mm, 100mm and 300mm. And my Canon bag, I have the Canon 1Dx, and lens are 16-35mm, 24 tilt shift, 50mm f 1.2, zeiss 85mm, zeiss 135mm, 70-200mm. Both bags have chargers, cards, color-cards, and the camera manual.
JRP: What lighting set ups do you favor and why?
Peter Coulson: Natural light is my number one, because nobody can light as good as God. My second favorite is Bowen’s 1.5 meter Octagonal soft box. The 1.5 light is mounted pointing back, so the center of the light has less power, like a ring light.
JRP: Please describe your digital work-flow and the software you use?
Peter Coulson: I shoot raw, tethered into Hasselblad’s Phocus. Most of my raw adjustments are done during the live shoot, so the image we see on the screen is 99% the finished image. I then export into Photoshop for minor changes that I cannot do globally in raw. Adjustments include pimples, loose hairs, and general clean up.
JRP: For you what is the most critical moment in the capture of your images?
Peter Coulson: The expression in the models eyes is everything. When I am shooting I am always looking at the model’s eyes.
JRP: You make it a point to share your knowledge via workshops, why?
Peter Coulson: I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I have no secrets.
JRP: If not photography what would Peter Coulson be doing with his time?
Peter Coulson: If I wasn’t taking photos, I would be in a coffin … or making music. 🙂
JRP: What has been some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Peter Coulson: Learn to see the light, look for the light, find the light.
JRP: What special advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Peter Coulson: Spend as much time as you can shooting what you love shooting. Develop your style. Try to keep your balance 70% of what you want to shoot and 30% to pay the bills. Do not rush things, take your time and be fussy. I will spend a full day perfecting lighting so I can get the exact shot I want correctly. I don’t ever move onto the next shot, settling for something so-so or planning to ‘fix’ it in Photoshop.
JRP: Thank you Peter for sharing your thoughts and images with us. We wish you continued success.
Peter Coulson: Thank you, it was my pleasure.
JRP: To experience more of Peter Coulson’s photography please follow these links: