Oliver Holder – Through His Viewfinder

From a young age, Ollie was entranced by the visual arts and its ability to convey his perspective. Today, his passion remains and he’s keen on travelling the globe to capture the beauty and essence of different cultures through his viewfinder. Check out his story below.


Say hello to Oliver:

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Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I was born and raised in Surrey, England and have spent the last 14 months living abroad in New Zealand. I have always been an admirer of travel, what with both my parents working for British Airways for 25 years. I was fortunate enough to visit many parts of the world as a child and wish to carry on exploring, capturing different countries and cultures through the eye of my camera lens.


What’s your favorite place in the world? 

New Zealand as a whole is paradise to me. With so many beautiful locations and different terrain, it is impossible for me to pinpoint one specific place. Here’s just one example of a shot I captured from Bob’s Cove, a quick 10 minute drive just outside of Queenstown.

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How would you describe your visual style?

My style is a combination of lifestyle, travel and landscape photography; I position my subject in a beautiful location and shoot, all whilst retaining their identity. I feel that this loss of individuality is important to the viewer as it allows them to visualise themselves in the subject’s position, a key aspect to travel photography.


How do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration through a lot of things – other photographers on social media, places I visit/find on my travels, the films and TV I watch, even everyday life! I’m a deep thinker at times so my imagination tends to run wild.


Name your top three favorite filmmakers.

Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Darren Aronofsky.


What sparked your passion for still and motion pictures? How did you get started?

I’ve always been interested in art, still and moving, from a young age. I remember when I was younger and one Christmas, I received a Pokemon film camera; the roll of film allowed me to take roughly 20 shots, which I achieved within the hour – this was where I first became interested in photography. Then one year on a family holiday, my dad had purchased a video camera which he allowed me to use. Once I got my hands on it, I couldn’t put it down. I was shooting everything and anything, making home movies and comedy sketches – I had discovered my love for film. Moving swiftly on to 2013 and I had graduated from university with a degree in film studies, which then allowed me to start work in the film and TV industry as a production assistant/runner. I was doing this on and off for roughly a year and a half before deciding to explore the rest of the world. I took the plunge and booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand, working away in the meantime in order to save up for the trip of a lifetime. As I began packing for the trip, it suddenly came to my attention that editing short films on the road may not be as practicable as I had imagined (I had an old laptop that was heavy and chunky), so I decided to focus on still photography again, and here I am today. My passion for film hasn’t died, I’m just enjoying photography at the moment – I’ll return to film again in 2017.


Of the photos you’ve taken, which three are your favorite? 

My first favourite photo is the star shot above of Bob’s Cove. I remember doing heavy research into astrophotography after a failed attempt in the same location a few weeks prior. I thought I had it figured out but couldn’t get the focus right, so achieving this shot held a deep sense of accomplishment to me. My second favourite shot is of my buddy, Dave, overlooking Auckland city from Mt. Eden. His silhouette against the city’s lights reminds me of a shot out of an Aronofsky film (not that I could tell you which one, but it looks like his style!).

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My buddy Dave overlooking Auckland city from Mt. Eden.

And finally, a shot of my pal, Rosie, and her dog, Poppy. The pastel, blue colours combined with the tones really reminds me of the hot, summer days in New Zealand.

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My pal, Rosie, and her dog, Poppy, checking out the view up at Wye Creek.

What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Don’t give up. Don’t blame your gear. Don’t think you’re not good enough. Photography is constantly growing as a passion and employment opportunity, so there are always new ways to express yourself in a new and imaginative way. Start off with a camera, any camera, and go shoot. It sounds cliche and tedious, but I’ve always told myself that knowledge is power; get to know your own gear and only once you can’t push yourself anymore, then think of upgrading to something else. I only upgraded from my Canon 600D to a 6D five months ago and I can see through my photos how much I’ve improved – you just need to keep pushing yourself!


Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

I want to give a shoutout to three individuals who have helped me get to where I am today. Ryan Winterbotham for giving me every reason to keep pushing myself. This guy’s journey from picking up a camera is incredible and he has achieved so much within the last three years – he’s not only a friend, but an inspiration to me. Secondly, Levi Caleb Allan for helping me through the early stages of my Adobe Lightroom experience. Levi created and sold his own presets to help photographers like myself understand the importance of editing, as well as how the professionals do it. Not only that, but he donated a fraction of those earnings to charity. And finally, my Welsh housemate, my brother…Mr. Joel Herbert. This guy has been with me in Queenstown since I had my 600D. He has been supportive of my work from the start and is always pushing me to go on more adventures and ‘”do it for the ‘gram.’” You want to keep an eye on this one, he’s going places.


What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?

At times I’m a perfectionist, so I’m constantly asking myself whether it’s good enough, if the tones look alright, does the composition work. That’s why it’s good to have other photographers in your inner circle or someone you can talk to on social media; having someone else review your work before it goes public can really put your mind at ease!


What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

Work with what you have, whether that be gear, lighting or location – just keep pushing yourself! If you can shoot with a basic camera in poor conditions and achieve remarkable results, think what you can do with a better camera in a well lit area?! Socialise with others who share your passion. FStop, Instagram, the world wide web – these are scary places to reach out to people! You may ask yourself: What if they don’t respond? What if they don’t take me seriously? What if they tell me I’m not good enough? Take a chance, what have you got to lose? Worst case scenario is they don’t respond to you but I promise you, for the users who do, they can really help push you as a photographer! Even better if they are local to you, get out there and take photos with other photographers! And finally, never put the camera down. It’s funny how a week off of social media can have an effect on your online persona. If you continue to stay active, you’ll gain the recognition you deserve and people will notice your hard work – I promise you. Keep your head in the game and make sure you stay active!


What is your most life-changing event?

Travelling to New Zealand and working there for 14 months. I can’t begin to tell you how terrifying travelling is, especially if it’s to the other side of the world! The things I have seen during my travels though… I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wish I could do it all over again!


What has photography done for you as a person?  How has it changed you?

Again, cliche, but it’s changed how I look at places, how I look at people, and how I look at the world. I am still learning new things as a photographer, but the gear I have in my possession can take me all over the world!

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What will you be doing five years from now?

The dream is to be working outside of the UK as a freelance photographer and videographer, exploring new parts of the world every month, and making a name for myself in the industry.


What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Buy a van/bus, convert it into a home and hit the road. My passion for travel has caused me to become agitated when tied down to one location; I want to wake up somewhere new everyday!


For anyone that wants to get in touch with Oliver, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Website:  www.OllieHolder.com

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @ollieholder


Ollie, thanks so much for sharing your story with us! 🙂

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Also, remember to download the FStop app for iPhone here!

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