Capturing Stories that Connect Us to Water: Zena Holloway

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“My images illuminate the space between myth and reality.” – Zena Holloway

Renowned for her distinctive images of people and animals in underwater environments, Zena has brought you to an underwater imagination through her wonderful imagery.

Zena is part of our upcoming #ADEXPixelExpo – 8 Monthly Global Webinar Series. This September, we focus on Dive Safety and Education. Read on to find out more!

About Zena Holloway

Zena Holloway, born in Manama, Bahrain, in 1973, is a self-taught British photographer and director, best known for her distinctive portraits of people and animals in underwater environments. She has photographed Olympians, sports personalities, singers and songwriters as well as newborn babies, indigenous peoples to creatures of all shapes and sizes; both marine and terrestrial.

Currently based in London, UK, Zena spends her time exploring and experimenting with mediums of photography, dance, costume, and narrative. She creates captivating works focusing strongly on ecological and industrial change. 

How she started

Born in Bahrain and raised between London and pretty much everywhere else in the world, she went on her first dive in England as a teenager. She discovered her love for underwater photography at 18 while traveling around the world as a scuba dive instructor and guide. 

Charmed by the magic of the underwater world, she began experimenting with a camera and gradually taught herself the skills needed to master this most technical of photographic techniques.

Throughout her life, she has carved out her own path in an ultra-niche profession and created her own magical, underwater settings. Zena’s inspiration is defined by the words of anthropologist and author Loren Eiseley: “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” The ideas for her images come in the quiet moments between awakeness and sleep. 

Zena first gained recognition as a fine art photographer in 2005 with “swansong”. Since then her unique style of photography has led to many solo and group exhibitions worldwide.

Capturing stories that connect us to the waters

Throughout Zena’s career, she has continually been pushing creative boundaries by capturing a moment in time when her figures are serenely floating in an open, calm space. Combining underwater photography’s highly technical aspects with superb creative direction, she produces the remarkable. She directs her models in a dramatization of universal human experiences, such as love, loss, intimacy and romance, with the use of cinematic drama and painterly aesthetics.

In her works, Zena captures the subconscious connections we have with waterways, lakes, and oceans by creating ethereal figures in mystical fairytale scenes. She creates tranquil images that are mesmerizing, surreal and romantic all at once. 

Since 2018 Zena has been developing a bio-fabrication technique to grow structures from root. It is fascinating mad, stemming from little rant about the unavoidable plastic content of her life and then she stumbled across the idea that we can construct our built world from biology and not oil. For a while Zena grew mushrooms in her basement, looking at different types of mycellium but quickly moved on to growing shapes from grass root. The roots looked a lot like bleached coral sea fans and since then she has been honing the technique of growing the roots into beeswax moulds that reinforce the seafan shape. 

 In the last few months Zena has branched out to work on a few other different coral patterns as well. Her root sculptures are an ongoing, green art project, created in a bid to expose the beauty and vulnerability of coral. She is hoping that the work will lend another voice to the rising tide of people speaking out about climate change and calling for urgent action.

Zena’s career as a photographer has been both colorful and extensive, lasting three decades. Her recent exhibitions in Korea and Sweden have highlighted environmental concepts that focus on pollution and loss of biodiversity in rivers. Zena was Underwater Photographer of the Year (2020) in the UK. She also recently took home the award for Nudes at the Photoshoot Awards, Italy (2020).

Hear more from Zena Holloway!

One way or another, we’re connected to the ocean. Inspired by Zena and her underwater photography? Adam Hanlon, the publisher & Editor-at-Large of Wetpixel, will be hosting the #PIXEL21 – Conversation with the Masters of Underwater Photography Capturing Stories that Connect Us to Water with Zena!

#APE 8TH MONTHLY VIRTUAL EVENT 2021 SCHEDULE – SEPTEMBER SERIES

Organised by the digital platform for ADEX Asia Dive Expo, ADEX Pixel Expo, #APE 8th Monthly Virtual Event 2021 celebrates the diversity of the ocean and its diving landscape, with a series of events happening on the 8th of each month, with an aim to bring trending dialogue and deep-rooted tales on the pulse of scuba diving, with inspirational guests and insightful stories!

This September Edition focuses on Dive Safety and Education. Click here to find out more about upcoming events and schedule!