Actor, writer, musician Ollie Harrison Hall :

What Ollie wanted from Dahl Photography 

Ollie Harrison Hall knew what he wanted when he arrived at Dahl Photography. “I have a versatile face” said the nineteen year old. The aim was to leave with a set of headshots for his acting portfolio. He had also planned to present two opposing character ideas for the shoot; one “romantic”, the other “darker and a bit unhinged”.

How Ollie was discovered

Ollie was getting noticed at an early age. When he was four he was doing voiceovers for television. In a primary school performance of Bugsy Malone, an agent spotted him and asked him to be the child voice of the disney channel. As he got into his teenage years, his voice changed and he stopped doing the voiceover work. His interest in the performing arts, however, hasn't dwindled. His spare time is spent writing scripts and dramatic monologues, sometimes performing them to camera in the creation of theatrical films.  

Five star review in "Broadway Baby"

Recently Ollie took the lead role in the 50's spoof musical Zombie Prom for Edinburgh's fringe festival. The show was given a five -star review in Broadway Baby, reviewer Dave Coates dubbed Ollie as “Bieber-esque” amongst other praise. Ollie admits that his look often lends itself to 'romantic' roles but also says that he is much more intrigued by the less traditional roles, “the ones that will allow me to leave my comfort zone”.  


The importance of having the right look

Along with finishing A levels and planning for University, he regularly attends castings for TV and film. In todays image obsessed world, Ollie says, it is even more important for actors to have not only the 'right' look for a part, but a rich range of looks. Ultimately though, he reflects “If you don't look right, you won't get the part”. 

Working with Vibeke

What came out of the session with Vibeke was more than the evocation of the 'dark' and 'light'. “You can pose in a particular way but you can't stop and think” says Ollie of Vibeke's technique, 'Every nuance is being pursued'. And whether it was Vibeke's speed or Ollie's deliberate attempt at creating a spectrum of moods, there was certainly another process at work which was organic, magical and in the moment, producing results that couldn't be constructed.  



Dropping the fasade

Some of what emerged in the headshots, was unexpected. Ollie did not anticipate seeing his own vulnerability in the images. He compares this with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe taken by Richard Avedon. This image of Monroe was taken by Avedon after he had spent all day photographing her. At the end of the shoot and in a fleeting moment, Marilyn dropped her facade and Avedon was able to capture and immortalise a glimpse of the 'real' Marilyn Monroe.   

Why Ollie is interested in acting and music :

Ollie's interest in acting is not only vocational, he also likes to see it in intellectual terms; an avenue for “exploring” human nature. He explains; “When you perform you are exposed to different lives and minds, you can't just be tourist and watch passively, you have to take it on”. Inhabiting lives by playing a role is when he says he can “release a part of me that I would normally like to suppress”.

In acting and writing scripts Ollie is able to express some of the idiosyncrasies of human beings. His other creative outlet is music production. Hear his Shy Mountain sounds right here:


Tips for choosing a photographer

1: Is the photographer of your choice really a photographer with training and qualifications, or did they just pick up a camera overnight ?

2: A good idea is to see a full range of the photographers work. Not just their best 3 frontpage images Is the photographers work consistent all the way through the images?

3: Are they a specialist in their field? A specialist tends to be passionate about their subject. If I wanted to shoot some interiors, I would prefer hire a photographer who specializes in interiors.

4: Every portrait photographer have their own style of capturing people. Some styles will date within a few years and some styles will look timeless.

How to photograph people : Part 3 How to take outdoor portraits

The key to successful to outdoor portraits is understanding the light. Most people think that you will get brilliant results when the sun is out. Wrong! The fact is the midday sun casts ugly black shadows all over the face. Notice the lack of detail in the eyes. It is a hard and unforgiving light.


If you do have  to capture portraits on a sunny day, head for the shade of a large building or similar, where you can find a bright and shady spot where the light is even.

A good place will be at the edge where the light  meets the shadow. Look for a light and even shady area with a bright quality to it.

Place you subject in a spot where the eyes look the clearest and with the most reflection.

A cloudy or overcast day is the easiest light to create a portrait.


The portrait below was taken around 7 pm in the evening . 
At this time 
the sun is low on the horizon. I positioned the person with her head in front of the evening sun to create a rim lighting around the head.



Another way to get around the sun effect is to use your flash to blast away some of the shadows. This is used to great effect by many professional photographers and  called “fill in flash”, but it does have a bright slightly unnatural look.

Example :

The most gorgeous results  from sunshine portraits is to catch the golden light in the first two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset. At this time  the sun is low on the horizon casting a beautiful golden light over he subject minus  the harsh shadow that you get during the day. Many fashion photographers and film crews  on location will start filming at this time.

Example :

Project : See how many different kinds of lighting you can document over the next few weeks .

How to photograph people : Part 2 Choosing the Best Angle.

Most people find one side of their face photographs better than the other. Before starting to photograph a person ask them to look first to the left then to the right and straight ahead. 

Decide upon which side is the most flattering. If you are unsure, just ask them to repeat the exercise again until you really can see which angle suits them the best. They will thank you for it! 

Some people look best just looking straight at you rather than at an angle. 
You can also shoot three pictures of different sides and ask the person to which angle they prefer to be photographed. This is can be a good icebreaker . 
If a double chin looks like a problem, stand on a stool and look downwards to minimise the chin. Also asking the person to place their hand naturally under their chin will  have a slimming effect. 
Wide faces, long noses, crooked noses, these are all small details that you need to be aware of and take into considerations when you choose the best angle for your subject. 
Half the work is getting them to show you all their different sides, with a laugh and a smile. 
If people have one eye smaller than the other, have the smallest eye nearest to the lens. The other way around and you will just accentuate the unevenness. 
The more you train your eye to see, the more awareness you will develop. 
Everybody wants to look their best in front of the camera, so spend a little extra time observing before you really start shooting.

How to photograph people Part 1

By Vibeke Dahl

6. June 2011 

Taking a good portrait of a person is about them looking their best. Facial expression and emotion goes hand in hand For some of us, reading expressions and knowing how someone feels is an intuitive skill.

For others it is not a natural habit, but with careful observation can be easily learned. All you have to do is to be interested in people watching- and your seeing will develop. All people have a light within themselves. People literally “light up” when they smile. Absolutely everybody, regardless of facial features and age becomes beautiful when this light radiates through their eyes. This light is not only present in a smile, it is also present in a semi serious expressions. A person can give smiley impressions also with a serious face, because their light is engaged. It is as simple as that. All you have to do is to observe the degree of light present in people and notice how it makes them beautiful. Sadly many people look and smile sad and empty smiles without much light. It is therefore up to you as the photographer to make their light appear. Their mood will be a reflection of your own mood, so your own input in being relaxed and upbeat is of crucial importance. Project : Choose a person to practice on and see how many types of expressions You can create in that one person. Line the pictures up in a row and decide which ones you like best and why. Notice if the person is projecting a look to you or whether it is totally natural. Notice their eyes – are they dead or alive? A smile has many versions and. Often it is not the most obvious cheesy smile that is the most interesting.

Keep three of your favorite pictures and then repeat the experience with somebody else. Is there a similarity between the two sets of pictures? Here is my own experiment. There are two portraits with smile eyes and one without.


Paris Photo 2013


By Vibeke Dahl12. December 2013 

Julian and I try to get to the Paris Photo fair every year to get inspired. This year we made it over. In 2013, the international event comprised of 136 galleries, ranging from groups of collectors to all the new and avant- garde from the world of fine art photography. Paris Photo is set in the fabulous 'Grand Palais' on the Champs Eylees -the historical home to many of the great art gatherings of Paris. The giant glass roof really does make an impressive space for displaying photography as the light reflects off the works in interesting ways.

One of my favourite images from the event was this one by Sarah Moon. Sarah started out as a fashion photographer and over the years her work has become more and more iconic. This is probably down to her individualistic style and experimentation with grainy film effects.



It was also interesting to see how contemporary photographers are using digital technology to really create what they want to see; photos are made into 'composites', rather than just capturing a moment in time.  

We had a great trip staying in our usual lovely hotel La Perle. La Perle can be found in the 6th arrondissement of the city, next to the beautiful Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres. As per usual, we saw and spoke to the hotel's receptionist 'Ted', and we told him all about the Photo fair. This time, he seemed to be a little more talkative than usual, especially when he found out that we were photographers! Eventually Ted revealed to us that he is himself a fashion photographer and only works in the hotel to 'pay the bills', all these years he had kept it quiet. Ted informed us he works with none other thanRankin when he is not hoteling and that he is originally from Scotland!

We did also manage to find another English person to speak to at Paris photo. Julian immediately struck up a conversation. After the mandatory card swapping, the man walked away, only to come running back to us exclaiming that he had in fact, already met us and been to our house. It turns out that his children have been having their portraits taken by me since 1996 and he had been in our house, three times! Of all the people to coincidentally meet in Paris... 

You can see all of the photos I took in Paris via my facebook page here

Have a great Christmas from all of us at Dahl Photography.

Vibeke x

Milestones in your children's lives.



Many of the families that come through into my studio I have known for a long time. Parents tend to bring their children in as babies and as they grow they usually want to capture the child at different stages of development. So I may see them every year or so until they reach a certain age.

This age is often eleven or twelve. Recently I have been thinking about this stage of a childs life. I remember my own daughter at this age and how she transformed as she got older and shed her childish ways. One moment she was wearing pigtails and dungarees, and the next she was at secondary School with makeup on and sporting a very different look. At the time I did not think to photograph her aged ten or eleven as I could not predict how she would change, but now I look back and wish I had caught her then, at that time, before she changed beyond recognition.

Three siblings with their pet Rabbit!

When teenagers become adults, when they are eighteen nineteen or twenty, this is an interesting stage in life and a wonderful time to be photographed. It is a bit of a milestone for young people, just before they go to university or go away on a gap year. They are leaving home to embark on their own adventures – there is a sense of excitement for them and this makes for a great image.

I love taking photos of young people at this age and I consider myself privileged to be able to do so. It is so important to try and express the person they are becoming and I aim to tune into their mood, character and personality, who they are, at that particular moment in time.

Vibeke x

President of ROKPA International dies.

By Vibeke Dahl23. January 2014 10:43

"Rokpa in Tibetan means to 'help' or to 'serve'"

I recently discovered that the President of the Tibetan charity I support- has died. Dr Akong Rinpoche was killed in China in October 2013 just as he was setting off to distribute ROKPA's annual funds to all of the charity's projects. He was killed by individuals who knew him and knew about the money in his possession- Rinpoche gave up his life, rather than hand over the money to his attackers. His death is a tragedy. Rinpoche is not only the founder of ROKPA, but he also set up the first Bhuddist temple in the UK; Scotland's Samye Ling, he pioneered Tara Therapy and dedicated his life to social, environmental and humanitarian projects towards the eradication of poverty in some of the world's most deprived places.

Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche- 1939- 2013

Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche- 1939- 2013


Rokpa aim's is to assist people in need wherever necessary, regardless of religion or culture, most of its work is focused in the hard to reach Tibetan areas of china and nepal. There are also AIDs family support programmes in Zimbabwe and South Africa and soup kitchens that operate as far away as villages in India to Poland, Belgium and Scotland. Rokpa follows a philosophy of; 'help those in need to help themselves', and with that ethos has supported over two hundred projects proposed by local people in some of the worlld's most remote regions. One of Doctor Rinpoche's primary goals was to maintain Tibetan culture and traditions in the country. So Rokpa travelled to some of the poorest areas of Tibet setting up Schools, training teachers and supplying material in order for children to be educated from Primary to University level. Children are taught in the Tibetan language which is sadly under threat as the Chinese government regularly tries to replace it with Mandarin.

After I came back from India, seeing hungry children and poverty all around me, I was moved and inspired to give something back. Buddhist practice and philosophy led me to Rokpa and Dr Rinpoche is someone I have always respected.  I also always admired founder Lea Wyler because she gave up a promising acting career to establish ROKPA and help the needy in any way that she could. Rokpa is made up of volunteers who work directly with local communities ensuring all the money raised goes straight to people who need it.

Now that ROKPA's co- founder and leader Dr Akong Rinpoche has died the charity needs support more than ever.

Find out more here

Thank you

Vibeke x

Tags: ROKPAAkong RinpochecharityTibetfundraising