About the Artist

Olli Wendelin was born in Rauma, Finland in 1954. As a child he immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1957. Since 1961 he has called Charleston, South Carolina his home. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Miami and graduated in 1976.  After school he joined the Navy, received a commission, and served as a submarine officer. Since 1981 he has served as a civilian with the US Navy. This career has given me the time and funding to pursue my passion for photography.

Since a child Olli enjoyed the images of people and far away places in National Geographic Magazine. As a teenager he did some photography with a box camera. He began photographing seriously in 1974 while studying engineering at the university. One summer he ate chili & rice every day to save up enough to buy a Nikon camera. Olli learned photography by reading books and experimenting. In the beginning, being on a tight budget, he bought Tri-X black and white film in 100 foot rolls and loaded his own film cassettes. While in school he converted the closet in his dorm room into a darkroom for developing and printing. Later he began shooting color slide film and developing it at home. While in the Navy he was able to photograph many exotic places, including Italy, Greece, and the islands of the Caribbean. During this time he bought a Nikonos underwater camera and began photographing the silent world.

Over the past 36 years his subjects have including people, travel, nature, and the underwater world. He has photographed ships through a submarine periscope, nuclear reactors,  and underwater cave exploration as part of the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section. He has photographed performance art, ballet, theater, and concerts in difficult and changing lighting situations. Since 2000 he has gravitated to digital photography. In 2005 he built a 2 story studio at his home on James Island. There he works to create interesting and mysterious shadows through lighting experimentation, using the feminine form to create human abstracts and portraits.

In 2008, in conjunction with the stage production of "The Full Monty" Olli had a one man exhibition in the lobby of  The Footlight Players Theater in Charleston. Olli has been the Featured Artist at the Charleston Artist Guild in October 2008 and December 2009.