Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am Carla, a problem solver, an ideas person, a creative and story teller; firstly with words and now in this exhibition with images and words.
I wrote my first masterpiece in primary school, published community newsletters when I was 19 with my first gig as a ‘journalist’ and had my second story published when I was 30 as a mature aged student. I then worked in publishing, was published again when I was 36, made audio and visual documentaries of people I met when I travelled in Europe and Japan, won a NSW Premiers Scholarship for Communication, edited and published a book of poetry. All that besides building two houses, three renos, raising two gorgeous children and working and studying fulltime.
THEN on July 2 2014 I started something for ME. Documenting 364 + 1 people with my 50mm lens, in B&W and have them tell me their story.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
I had to go ask this question because that’s what one does as a journo. We question. And it was a very interesting outcome. The answers could be grouped into three distinct categories; from those who really KNOW me, those know me and those who ‘know’ me. Then there were the ‘polite, I don’t want to offend you’ responses. Here is a table of the three categories – so interesting how they differ but yet are similar.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
My first job, to be literal, was working at Mr Whippy at Charlestown Square around 1979. Since then I’ve always been involved in the service industry in one way or another. First it was food service whilst still at school, then I was sacked as a junior secretary as my first full time post school job – I felt like a caged animal working in an office – then I volunteered in the Mater Hospital in the Childrens Ward to determine if I was going to go into nursing like my three sisters. I was offered it but declined.
Instead I became the first Play Specialist in Newcastle! From there to London’s prestigious children’s hospital, Great Ormand St, back to Australia where I moved into customer service for Coca Cola.
I bought my first camera whilst working on the Fairstar (about 1986) and have been photographing ever since.
It wasn’t until 2010 when I bought my first DSLR that my focus moved away from authoring and the printing industry I’d been involved in since my return to Australia in 1989. And I’ve been studying the art and techniques of it since with through an unofficial apprenticeship, work on Daydream and Long Island, Weddings, studio portraiture, or mentoring with top professionals from Newcastle and
This project of 364+1 portraits and stories is my second 365 style project. The first I dedicated the 365 images to learning different techniques of photography and editing.
After teaching media and journalism for 12 years I’ve moved back into office work to support my art but with the vision board and mentoring I’ve been undertaking since August last year I’m moving into the art of photography and telling people’s stories more full time.
How do you usually plan your daily activities?
When I have a studio or location shoot my day starts the evening before ensuring the batteries are charged or charging, the camera’s and lenses are packed. Then on the day it starts early with the last pack or preps then I’m either travelling and setting up or organising the studio.
When a client comes in for their makeover shoot they are greeted with my special; chocolate dipped strawberries and sparkling cider before being pampered with the stylist. Whilst in the chair it’s all about the client and making them have a wonderful special day. From my side it’s a day of showing them their inner beauty, that they are valued and worthy of gorgeous portraits.
As an artist, what is your biggest frustration?
My biggest frustration is not really a frustration, it’s more something I have to learn to accept. It’s when a person I approach for being a project portrait says yes, then after 5 minutes makes excuses instead of just saying ‘No thank you’ in the first place. Or when I’ve made their portrait, transcribe there story, uploaded it and THEN they ask for it to be removed.
Is that frustration? I suppose in a way it is but it’s also humbling to have to accept and abide by their wishes. Especially the latter. In the first example of ‘wasting time’ with the subject when they say yes/no, I need to swallow my rejection, which is actually their insecurity, and find the next subject. The prize in all of this is the person who I eventually do have success with has the most amazing story.
Tell us about how you prioritise your art?
I focus on the subject I have the most connection with and I’m driven until I’m satisfied the image and story is how I believe it should be told in their voice to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Lucky the children have left and my long suffering husband understands.
How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
I am very selective with whom I interact now and only allow positive influences in my life. I gravitate towards people who give me genuine critique to further improve in my work. But it’s funny because I don’t seek them out we just happen to connect.
Your advice to an artist who is just starting out?
Practice, practice, practice and learn photoshop! Listen to your mentors but be true to yourself. And don’t get caught up with copying someone who is big, make your own important mark. It’s not about being big it’s about being true to your art and your soul without destroying others in your wake.
Tell us about your up coming Solo Art exhibition at ArtSHINE Gallery During the Head On Festival?
Everyone has a story and I set out to photograph and interview 364 different people where ever I was in the country and world. These are their stories. I give gratitude for these strangers allowing me to tell their story and am honoured by their openness.
I promised an exhibition at the end of the project and this is the beginning. Those portraits and stories not able to be viewed in this exhibition can be seen here
– See more at: https://www.headon.com.au/exhibitions/face#sthash.QkbcZyYl.dpuf
To register to my solo show at ArtSHINE Gallery click on the link below:
What is your proudest moment so far?
Getting to this first and solo exhibition will be the proudest event at the moment. But I could not do it without the 364 subjects who have given their time and their story. When I can gather as many subjects as possible for the larger exhibition in Newcastle that will be an momentous event to remember.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
I really don’t have someone in that category because I’ve already met so many wonderful people in my life and adventures who inspire me, and then there are those more well know persons that I’ve met or interacted with because of where I worked in London and here in Australia.
Perhaps if some well-known personalities were named I’d be able to go, “yes” or “no” to so and so but I’m not hankering to meet anyone in particular.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learnt?
People are motivated by self and only help when it’s in their interest.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
Nope, no books being read at the moment – that will happen at Christmas when I have a few days off between Christmas and New Year to read and read and read. I think I received one at Christmas that I’ve not opened yet. I must get some down time and read before Christmas I think!
Where do we find you and your products?
I can be found by googling my name – Carla Edwards or my old business name Sidecar Photography. I trialled that and up popped this title … Top 24 Grandmother profiles in Newcastle | LinkedIn and Top 14 Freelance Travel Photographer profiles| LinkedIn. Interesting and true! I am a grandmother and I do also do travel photography. Those monkeys have been hard at work!
I’m currently rebranding to Inner Goddess Portraits and would love to have you in my studio for your pampering session.
Les Porter is my go to man for B&W prints here in Newcastle. He is such a genuine, caring and sharing man, so full of knowledge and it will be a sad day he retires.
During the development phase of this exhibition Chris Reid from BlancoNegro has been wonderful with his suggestions.
Sandra from Sandyprints too gave her advice on a particular piece I wanted to exhibit.
I cannot forget Jo Meisner who was so gracious with her time and experience.
Catherine Jones was a wonderful artist to bounce things off.
Mark Higgins my mentor and master has been on my case this last month – before the artwork was off the printer – with “so when is your next exhibition and what’s the theme” followed by a brainstorm session.
For this exhibition Brad Want and his team of designers and printers from HiVis have stayed the course and guided me through this new medium.