'God's own Country' is how Oliver describes Wales - as his friend Iolo Williams says! We went to Wales for a week in March and stayed in a beautifully remote cottage called Alltwinau. Oliver sat in wet fields of grass, perched on rocks beside waterfalls, stood in the rain (A LOT!), got snowed on, windblown, very cold hands, and all in all suffered quite appropriately for his art!! Oh And of course - Loved Every Bloomin' Minute! :)
"Mum I need another brother sister day" announced Oliver. He loves to spend a day out with his sister on her day off work - partly becasue he loves his sister and partly because he can usually manage to convince her that a meal out in a pub is definitely in order. Big sister Anna was more than happy to agree as it had been over a month since their last one, and she took him to Killerton House Gardens. It was a beautiful day and as always Anna made sure she took the most vital accessory required on a day out - which is of course her selfie stick. One of the seven hundred selfies taken on the day is here for your enjoyment... Oh and the other thing Anna is brilliant at is taking lots of pictures of Oliver taking pictures - and here in this facebook post she combined a few pictures of Oliver with the pictures he was taking at that very moment: https://www.facebook.com/OliverHellowellPhotographer/posts/660749384109521
How fortunate it is that I was able to produce two such talented and beautiful offspring :)
We have recently moved to a lovely village in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and are fortunate enough to have a back garden which is a bit more like a field. BRILLIANT!! So we are making it a wildlife area and intend to encourage as much wildlife as possible. We all helped to put up a shed which is to be a photography 'hide' and some great pictures have already been caught with an example of a beautiful blue-tit here as proof. Also Here to make you smile is a very speedy capture of our shed raising skills!!!
You may have to copy and paste the link I don't seem to be able to make it link directly... Unfortunately IT simply isn't one of my special skills - but Oliver has just told me I'm gorgeous and it doesn't matter - so I've decided not to worry about it :)
Greylake RSPB Reserve out on the Somerset Levels is a great place to go to see lots of wildfowl at this time of year. Oliver wanted to capture the ducks flying and he got some great shots of the sky full of ducks and was very pleased to have captured them crisp and sharp. As we walked around he also caught a picture of his Mother jumping off a wooden beam. Oliver has always jumped off things, when he was younger he used to call out "Ready to... LEAP!!" just before he leapt off whichever, rock, tree-stump, set of steps, ledge, wall etc had taken his fancy. I was frequently asked if his need to jump off stuff was related somehow to his having Down Syndrome.... well ERM no!!!! It's entirely down to his mad mother I'm afraid!! Enjoy every moment! :)
Oliver loves to go fishing with his father, even if it's a cold, damp and dull December Day! He organises all his magazines, bird books and ipad in his 'bivvy' tent, and enjoys several bacon and cheese sandwiches, cold chicken and cups of hot chocolate to keep him going (it's a hard life!) He's always pleased to catch a fish - and on this occasion he wasn't disappointed and caught a reasonably sized Carp. He also spends much time leaving his father to watch the rods and poles whilst he goes off wandering around the lake or fishery and takes hundreds of pictures. As his mum I enjoy going through all the images he brings home, because in many ways, I then go on his walk with him, - I see every single thing he noticed as he walked around and took his pictures. :)
November 2016 saw Oliver's 5th Annual Exhibition and as usual lots of lovely folk came from far and wide to meet Oliver and see his work. The weather wasn't too bad (we've had floods in the past!) and so it was a joy to see over 200 people coming to be inspired and encouraged by both the photographer himself, and by so many examples of his work. Oliver is always very proud of his exhibition and looks forward to it every year. This year was yet again a great success and Oliver had to sign lots of copies of his hardback book and pose for a few selfies with his fans!! At the end as we spent a rather long time packing everything away Oliver said "Phew - That went well didn't it! I think I'm ready for a holiday and a takeaway now actually..."
At least once a week Oliver says "C'mon mum - let's go for our drive around and see what we can find!" And so off we go, with a camera and a packed luinch, to see what we can see. We often stop for a walk and a little explore somewhere and Oliver always finds things, scenes and places he wants to take pictures of. He also shouts "STOP!" as we're driving along as soon as he sees something he wants to capture - which can give me a series of nervous breakdowns as I try to always remember to check my rear-view mirror before engaging in an emergency stop just because Oliver has spotted a really cool fern growing in the hedgerow!! :)
I do however love these times we share, and it's not just about the taking of pictures, it's also about the "ooooh look at THIS!" and the "Oh WOW that's cool isn't it mum" and the "JUST LOOK AT THESE!" when he proudly shows me on the viewfinder at the back of the camera, the picures he's just taken. It's about our singing along very loudly to the music we're playing (possibly a little too loudly...) as we drive, and laughing as we do so. It's about time spent together - enjoying every bloomin' moment... :)
The other evening we had a sudden 'Ooh let's go chase a sunset!' moment. So off we went and drove onto the top of the Quantock Hills here in Somerset. Oliver was very organised and got out of the car and decided where he wanted to be, set up the tripod and camera, took a few practice shots to make sure he had the piece of sky he wanted... and we sat with a drink and a packet of crisps and we waited.. This image is his favourite of the bunch. :)
It was a beautiful day and I suggested that we have a wander around the Quantock Hills which are right on our doorstep. Oliver sighed and said - 'yes it is nice but I don't really want to walk very far today!' 'Ok then' says I 'let's have a drive around and we can hop out if there's anything you'd like to take pictures of'.. Well we had a LOVELY afternoon, which included a delightful walk around a country church and churchyard, (with a beautiful image of the church) some fabulous widflower shots and enjoying some of the wild Quantock ponies with Oliver capturing three foals all in a row eating the grass. A great afternoon's work :)
Our friend Adrian Farris put up a link on facebook for Oliver to see some fabulous wave images by a famous Australian 'wave'photographer as his work with seawater is rather reminiscent of Oliver's fascination with freshwater rivers and waterfalls - Ollie and I emailed the guy 'Ray Collins' and he replied within 24hours! We had sent him some of Ollie's splashes and he sent this message and image - how cool and lovely is this:
Hi Wendy and Oliver!
Thanks so much for taking the time to write, I really appreciate it.
First of all - Oliver ,YOU HAVE THE EYE!
I think having a different background and perspective to most people in turn makes your work different and that is a great thing in photography, the ability to express who you are in what you're passionate about. Great stuff.
Secondly, one of your pictures really reminded me of one of my own, I've attached it for you both to check out.
Keep up the good work, keep shooting in all conditions and keep blessing people with who you are and what you do.
Much love and my warmest regards,