5 Tips For Composing a Perfect Portrait – Edward Olive

Our Top 5 contest winner, Veteran photographer,  film and television actor Edward Olive shared some tips with our readers for taking perfect portrait shots.

E olive image

5 Tips For Composing a Perfect Portrait Shot

  1. Choose a really great looking model. They will make up for lack of photographic talent.
  2. Choose a really great acting model. They will make up for lack of direction skills.
  3. Choose the best time of day for light and color. That will make up for lack of lighting technique or bad digital colors.
  4. Choose the best location you can to shoot in. It’s show business. Average places are average, unless they are so unbelievably average it becomes a sort if interesting super average.
  5. If your skills are up to it, make the effort to actually shoot on genuine film, hand develop yourself and print your own darkroom enlargements. It’s so much more original than just yet another digital photo… everyone can do them. They should ban making any more digital cameras. There are too many of them taking too many photos already.


A short Interview with Our Winner


What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?

1. Don’t shoot for free. People will take advantage of you.

2. Charge a fortune. If you don’t, clients will think you are mediocre. Practically nobody can tell if you are generic, average and boring or a stunning original talent, but everyone can see how expensive you are, so they will think you must be good even if you are just yet another nobody. It’s all about perceived quality. The emperor’s new clothes.

How would you describe your style?

For clients:

If I shoot people, places or things for money I just try and make the subject look pretty, elegant, clean, not old, not fat, not balding, not poor.. and in focus.. and sharp. Clients love to see themselves, their properties and their products look good. Nobody understands anything about advanced technical or artistic elements so you don’t need to bother with them.

For myself:

If I shoot photos for my own personal interest I make everything sort of not very in focus, not sharp, very grainy, too dark, scratched, dusty and in weird colors, kind of tormented and odd. Since I use very expired film and don’t pay much attention to chemical times when developing or temperatures or enlarger color correction filters when printing – things just tend to come out how they feel like. When the photos come out really badly I pretend that is what I intended because I am an “artist” darling… honestly… and so misunderstood. It works every time.

Tell us a little bit about Your Camera and Lenses?

For clients:

I use the same digital lenses and cameras everyone else does for photos I am paid to shoot. That way the photos look focused, sharp, bright and with normal colors just like everyone else’s do. You get paid for such things without too many complaints hopefully. If you do get complaints they are just inventing some supposed flaw to try and not pay the full price or to get more photos without paying more money. You soon see through it.

For myself:

For my own photo I use analog medium format and 35mm cameras only, preferably 30-60 years old and only sort of working. I like Hasselblad V series 500cm the best. I use the 6×6 square, 645 rectangular and Polaroid instant film type backs on them and older Zeiss t* lenses. The cameras are like slow old metal tanks and don’t mind falling in the sea or being dropped on concrete. They don’t have light meters, auto focus, auto wind on, wind back, flash or any form of electrical stuff many people like these days. I think you can get a digital sensor thing to stick on the back but I don’t have one. I think they are expensive and I understand they don’t like being dropped in the sea or on concrete from a height, which reduces their practicality.


Edward Olive
Professional destination wedding, portrait, commercial and fine art photographer based out of Madrid Spain | Flickr |



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