Bold. Striking. Imaginative. All are words that describe the work of international photographer, Zena Holloway. What makes her work even more unique is that most of her subjects happen to be underwater.
Zena started her scuba career at the young age of sixteen. She says, "I’ve always been crazy about being in and underwater water. Scuba Diving just sounded such an amazingly fantastic, surreal thing to do. Having now done it I still think so." She says circumstance brought her to diving, she simply "signed [herself] for a course and a few years later traveled to Egypt where [she] really got hooked." When asked how she became one of PADI’s youngest dive instructors at age eighteen, she explains that it wasn’t a love of teaching, but rather an excuse to stay in Egypt and continue to fund her diving.
One would think that becoming a instructor for an eighteen-year-old woman would pose a number of unique obstacles, but she quickly explains away the question, "I don’t really do the women’s’ lib thing. My feeling is that if you aren’t good enough to compete with the blokes without any special treatment then you shouldn’t be doing it. The same applies to everything I do – I would hate to get to the end of my career and think I’d won a race only because I’d started with a handicap." Certainly from the looks of her work and her resume, she not only seems to be winning the race, but also that she is bypassing most of the "blokes" with break-neck speed.
Regarding her experiences first as a scuba diving guide in Egypt and then an underwater videographer and photographer in Grand Cayman and the British West Indies, she states that, "It was fun, not exactly mentally taxing, but doing over 1500 dives in 3 years makes you a great diver by the end of it – which is pretty essential in my line of work." Her line of work now takes her around the globe for such clients as Faberge, BBC, The Body Shop, Dive Magazine, EMI, Dazed + Confused, Virgin Cosmetics, Playstation, Unibanco, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and a host of other international companies and publications. She says she discovered her love of photography when she got bored with teaching and instantly became hooked after picking up the camera. She confesses however, that her photography experience before that was, "holiday snaps with a compact."
Her understated expertise is further communicated when asked about her favorite equipment, "dive gear is completely incidental – whatever is lying around will do. Photography kit is mainly Nikon with Aquatica housings." Regarding her influences, she comments, "Mike Portelly is the most gifted underwater photographer and film director of all time, in my experience. For the UK readers, he’s the bloke who shot the Cheltenham and Gloucester commercial with the boy finding the shell." When contemplating her own work, she says she doesn’t have a particular favorite. Simply put, "by the time I’ve worked, shot, laboured, bled and sweated over an idea or an image, I’m usually left feeling pretty dry about it. The reward is in listening to what other people think and feel about it."
Given her extensive portfolio and the obvious oos and ahhs by our staff and even our Publisher, Stephan Whelan, who has one of her works hanging in his office, she must find her work incredibly rewarding. She modestly claims that her work is a compilation of "coincidence and a wicked imagination. A wise old underwater photographer recently said to me that the longer you spend underwater the luckier you get." In 2001 Zena branched into publishing with her hugely successful book, "Enfant’s d’Eau", which has now been followed up with the recently released "Sirens". Both books can be purchased from the Amazon.fr website.
So, where does Zena Holloway go from here? Her current aim is to either direct an automobile commercial or shoot a stills campaign for one. "Mind you, I wouldn’t say no if Nike knocked on the door." If her portfolio is any indication, Nike is sure to have already put her on their wish list.
You can find Zena’s work at her website: http://www.zenaholloway.com
Her photographs are available printed with a ‘Giclee’ or inkjet method using a heavyweight archival paper with pigment-based inks. Print sizes are usually 13 X 19 inches (33 X 48cm) with a maximum image size of 12 X 17 inches (32 X 45cm). She strictly limits all prints to an edition of 150, which are individually signed and numbered by the artist. Prices are 100 UK Pounds per print plus VAT of 17.5% in the UK and EU. And of course, she offers a 14-day "no quibble" return policy. Prints are available via the website or at the Hoffer and Lupe photographic galleries in central London.