Mike Olliver Blog

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Something otherwordly....


I couldn't bring myself to "fix" these images as I edited some recent personal shoots. the relatively undisturbed backgrounds coupled with their subjects created an interesting train wreck. For a moment, I thought I might be onto something......stranger things have made people millionaires, and my odds would be much better than buying powerball tickets.  

When in Doubt, try F.P. Kolbe

When I go back to my hometown area, Bucks County, Pa, it wreaks havoc with my inner preservationist, and sometimes even my emotions. So much of the land was lost to "progress," over the last 25 years. The memories of my childhood, and my relationship with that area seem to change with each passing year. It's kinda like a Jekyll and Hyde experience. Lately, I seem to have a fond appreciation for my past, and my eyes are opened wide to the incredible beauty of the surrounding country.

I lived in Doylestown, and my parents still live there, 40 years after purchasing their home, which lies just outside the borough. As a kid, I was fortunate to wake up and see the Mercer Museum from my bedroom window on any day that I desired. Subsequently, the old prison, which was also visible behind our home - and was a bit too close for my mother's tastes -- was shuttered for a bit, until it became the site for the James A. Michener Arts Museum. If only I had appreciated these things while I lived there! Sigh.

Anyway, my car broke down a few weekends ago, while I was driving the back roads of Upper Bucks County, so I was able to stay with family for a couple extra days. I had my cameras with me, and I had found a few places i wanted to begin photographing in earnest. I had not been actively seeking pictures in Bucks County for quite a while, but I've decided I want to make some visual histories of the places that still exist, so I can enjoy them, and pass them on for others to enjoy -- well after I'm gone. Why not?

So, it's a Tuesday morning, and there's nobody around for miles. To me, that is the ultimate way to travel through the country. I decided to make a stop to get a few snaps of Point Pleasant, Pa, since they had just opened up the Pike after a 10 year repair, making it easier to access the area that intersects with River Rd. I asked permission to park in the lot of the Trading post that sits on the junction of Point Pleasant Pike and River Rd. I recognized the owner -- it was Rich Kolbe. I hadn't seen him for over 30 years, but honestly, he didn't look too much different. Still a good guy, and a hardworking one at that.

Rich, his wife Rebecca, and the true celebrity of Point Pleasant, their dog Duey, can be found almost any given day at F.P. Kolbe, fine purveyors of almost anything you never knew you wanted -- and some that you might have been seeking for a good while.
If you find yourself in Bucks County for a weekend getaway, or happen to be traveling through, you must check this place out!  I'm getting tired of writing, so I'll let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy the snaps of their trading post (and yes, there is a room that is devoted entirely to Christmas 24/7/365, in case you might ask).

Nobody Bothers Greg Maye

Another outtake from a recent shoot for Bethesda Magazine . Greg was very generous with his time, and I put him (and myself) through the paces. Thank you, Greg. Thank you.

Aside from being the owner of Positive Impact Martial Arts , he is also an entrepreneur, actor, model, and mentor. In that spirit, I appreciated Greg's willing collaboration. We started off with a suit and tie, to emphasize Greg's business presence. Of course, when I saw the shiny red gloves, it was time to kick it up a notch. We ended up putting him in full martial arts attire, and adding a ton of props throughout. The variety of choices should please the Art Director, who will then silhouette and reposition into the final layout for that page.

I like to get to know any subject as soon and as much as possible. That was not possible on this day, as Greg continued to teach class after class, while I was setting up the studio in the other half of his spacious digs. As the hours rolled on, we shot during breaks, and got little pieces of his story. The guy has a lot on his plate, bother personally and professionally. I really admired the way he managed to stay calm through all of it. He gets some great help from his assistant, Jae, who does many things (efficiently and humbly, I should add) behind-the-scenes.

Many thanks to both Greg and Jae for staying much longer than we anticipated. They trusted me enough to allow me to lock up, since I was still packing the gear at 10pm. We could have been done much earlier, but without an assistant, and wanting to do the very best I could, I brought all my gear and broke it out without hesitation. Cleanup is never fun, but it gives you time for reflection. This shoot felt like it had gone right.


Do or Die

Loaded into Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle during a soaking burst of rain.

CJ Crowe. Outtake from a shoot for Bethesda Magazine. Wet. Wild. Fun.

We both discovered that we lived in Baltimore, and had a space to shoot up there, if we had wanted it. That would have been nice, considering the ever-diligent and hardworking Parking Nazis of Bethesda.

I was setting up for my assignment, which called for portraits on white seamless, and noticed this nook in the back room.  Since CJ is a mystery writer (of sorts), I thought it made a good setting for a more intimate portrait. We made a quick shot, complete with many props (thoughtfully supplied by CJ) and some added refreshment we borrowed from Dan, our bartender. 

CJ is the creator and the brains behind Do or Die Productions. Check 'em out sometime!