Zena Holloway (1973), the daughter of an airline pilot, fell in love with the water first, photography second. Born in Bahrain and raised in London and pretty much everywhere else in the world, she went on her first dive in England as a teenager. After school, she travelled to Egypt for a holiday but stayed on alone to qualify as an instructor at a local diving centre.
It was here that she first took a camera underwater, fascinated by marine life on the coral reefs. Zena then realised that she wanted to spend the majority of her waking hours beneath the surface and by the ocean.
A few years later, Zena saw a film crew carrying a model dressed as a mermaid into the sea to shoot a commercial. With that, her path was set. Using the same unsophisticated underwater camera her mother got her at the age of 18, she decided to chart her own course in an ultra-niche profession. Nobody showed her the ropes; she taught herself. Zena shoots fine art, editorial, celebrities, sport, fashion and lifestyle imagery.
Her work deviates from the stereotypical directness associated with underwater photography, as she strives to push the boundaries of her imagination and the limits of creativity. The result is truly magical imagery that has resulted in worldwide acclaim and recognition from numerous international photography competitions including the AOP, APPLIED ARTS, COMM ARTS, RPS, PDN, CANNES and IPA.
She lives on the outskirts of London with her husband and three young children in a converted Ministry of Defence underground torpedo-testing centre. When she’s not underwater taking pictures, she can often be found cycling with the kids to school through Bushy Park or outside feeding their Chalk Hill Blue hens in the garden.
“Water has enabled me to fly with eagle rays, dance with dolphins and come face to face with some, particularly spectacular sharks. I’ve uncovered 18thcentury skeletons – complete with military uniform – discovered a priceless treasure from ancient wrecks, hitchhiked on submarines and taught a few mermaids how to pose along the way. I like to think of the water as my canvas and the light as the paint. My goal is always to find the heart of every project and let the water create the magic.”
Over the years Zena has been commissioned widely by advertising agencies, performing arts institutions and blue chip companies including: B&H (Leo Burnett, Mexico), English National Opera, The Royal Ballet, Kyle Minogue, Georg Jensen, Pepsi, Westfield, Speedo, Radox (Grey), Camay (Leo Burnett, Hong Kong), Rosemount Wine (RKCR/Y&R), Nike, Herbal Essences (Leo Burnett, London), Umbro, Olay (Saatchi & Saatchi NY), Jacuzzi (Y&R San Fran), Greenpeace (Saatchi & Saatchi, London) Dolland & Aitchison (DFGW), Shangri-La (O&M, Hong Kong) Sony (TBWA), EMI, GlaxoSmithKline (Ogilvy), Epson (Burkitt DDB), BBC, How to Spend it, Harpers Bazaar, GQ, Vanity Fair, The Observer, 125, Stylist, Quintessentially Magazine, Sunday Times, JFW, Twill, Dazed, The Sunday Times, Vision, Random, Neon, Rosebuzz, National Geographic, Schon, Cent magazine and Paris Match.