You may know the work of photographer Oliver Hellowell and his striking, memorable images which enable the viewer to immerse themselves in nature wherever they are. When I recently came across his photography and his life journey, I wanted to discover more.
Born in 1996, Oliver has Down’s Syndrome. He began photographing at the age of 11, and over the years his skills and style have evolved as he’s become a well-known and award-winning photographer. While he has used different models of camera, he mainly uses a Canon 100-400 and a Canon 17-40. With these he captures images of real clarity and impact. The natural world is his main subject, and he has a particular interest in portraying birds as varied as the mute swan, peacock and robin. I was struck by one image of a coal tit and its reflection in water, and by a montage of photographs of robins, showing such life. Water is another of Oliver’s main interests. He is drawn to portraying detail, in plants, light and water for example, and also line and form. Oliver particularly likes to photograph from ground level, creating a distinctive perspective.
Oliver has an annual exhibition of his photography, in different locations, has large followings on Facebook and YouTube, and gains regular media coverage. In 2019 a mountain view Oliver took in Tennessee won Best Photographic Feature at the USA/UK Media Awards in London. So he photographs further afield as well as close to home in England. And he photographs not only nature but also buildings such as Wells Cathedral, a sight very familiar to me as it is near to where I grew up.
Oliver Hellowell is a photographer of real talent and skill. Each image stands alone in its use of perspective, focus, colour or light. Once you learn that he has Down’s Syndrome, this only adds another layer to all that Oliver is doing. In 2015 he won another kind of award, the National Diversity Award for UK Positive Role Model for Disability. This highlighted how Oliver’s life story so far has inspired many other people who have a disability – and their families – to think widely, to experiment, maybe to dare.
The commitment and support of Oliver’s family shine through clearly as well. Oliver has endured heart and speech issues over the years and a diagnosis of ADHD. On his website his mother shares how photography enhances his life in so many ways.
It’s possible to buy Oliver’s images as prints or canvases from the gallery section of his website, while in the shop section you’ll find greetings cards, calendars and books like Oliver’s Birds and Oliver’s Britain.
Oliver’s photography makes me think again how art and creativity open so many doors, build opportunity and deepen how we experience the world. It also demonstrates what power images of nature hold for many of us. I like to stand and just watch a patch of grasses sometimes, or a tree, stilling my mind. Photography responds to this instinct, creating a store of images to allow us to experience nature at any time, in any place, in new and different ways.
You might like to look at Oliver’s website, https://www.oliverhellowell.com
Do you enjoy photography, or looking at other people’s photographs? It would be good to hear any responses in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002