GILLIES are usually associated with the highlands of Scotland – but now you can meet a different kind of gillie in the Black Mountains, near Abergavenny.
You won’t find Simon Powell guiding visitors on fly-fishing or gamekeeping expeditions, but taking photographers to the best locations for them capture the Welsh countryside.
Mr Powell, 35, of Llanover, has combined his passion for photography and the Black Mountains to set up a photographer’s gillie service.
The self-employed furniture maker and part-time photographer for Black Mountains Photography has been using his local knowledge to assist keen photographers for three years.
The father of three spent his childhood exploring the foothills of the Black Mountains around Mardy, and has been capturing the landscape since he was given his first camera 20 years ago. He said: “I was born in the shadow of the Brecon Beacons National Park, which became my playground as a child.
“Now it’s my obsession to capture its moods, beauty and its evolution under uncertain climatic conditions.
He says the area attracts many landscape photographers, and is particularly drawn to photographing the Skirrid mountain, near Abergavenny.
After taking his prints to a local shop he began getting requests from friends and family to take them to various locations, such as capturing the sunrise on the Sugarloaf mountain. He said: “My knowledge of the sunset and wind conditions takes them to the right spot. I’ve had clients from complete beginners to the more experienced with digital to manual cameras.
They come from all walks of life, from cleaners to doctors, solicitors, families, pensioners and couples travelling from across the UK, and from Europe and America for a holiday.
“My job is to guide them to the best location to photograph waterfalls, sunsets and mountains.
I’ll put the camera gear on my back and guide them up a mountain with my lurcher, Meg, or they can take photos from the car if they wish.”
Mr Powell said a guide is essential if you don’t know the terrain and weather as it can change quickly.
He added: “The Black Mountains is a magical place but can be treacherous if you don’t know it.”