Mermaiden Editorial

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Photographer Zena Holloway Story by Chelsie Roberts Fashion Thea Lewis Hair Michael Jones using Bumble and Bumble Make up, Phyllis Cohen at DWM using Shu Uemura Model Lydia Beesley at Storm. Photographers Assistants Angela Neil and Greg Hardes Diving Assistant Phil Richards. Fashion Assistant Ashley-Gianna Hallett.

Photographer Zena Holloway, born in Bahrain, now working and living in London is rumored to be able to hold her breath for three full minutes; which is a good thing, because her art is not only awe inspiring—it is literally breathtaking. Why literally? because, her scenes are shot exclusively underwater. In fact, whether it is in an ocean, a swimming pool or a water tank, Zena doesn’t photograph outside of the water at all. When she expresses how she felt the first time she went into the sea, she says “I loved the sense of being deep underwater, on borrowed time, experiencing a new world and having access to an environment that was so divine.” And her passion for the deep blue shows in her work. She has photographed images across all genres, ranging from the images for Charles Kingsley’s children’s book “Waterbabies” where she not only worked with children, but also animals to images for Nike and Olay campaigns. However she says, “I’m still waiting for the phone to ring for an underwater car commercial.”

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It all began when Zena was traveling the world as a scuba dive instructor. She was in Egypt, working as a guide when her mother purchased an underwater motor marine camera for her 18th birthday present. She says it, “looked far more like a children’s toy than a camera.”

She started to experiment with techniques that she learned in underwater photography books and through trial and error she taught herself. And, her first subject was not a mermaid, but a blue spotted ray, who Zena says, “Kindly sat for me for about twenty minutes as I fumbled with the settings.” When asked why she shoots underwater and how she came up with the idea, it’s a no brainer for her. “It was the water that came first rather than the photography and now that I’m a photographer it’s hard to extract the water… I like the magic that I find underwater which is very hard to achieve on land.”

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“Mermaiden” definitely captures this magic. Not only do the images capture the beauty and color of the water, but also this is paired with the intricacy and on-point aspect of the styling. “The inspiration from the shoot came from seeing the magnificent clothes hanging on the rail that Thea Lewis had gathered …The long flowing dresses, shells and long hair of the model all had a very mermaid feel…which was reflected in the style of the photography,” says Zena. Now, looking forward, admiring her art and drinking it all in, I wonder what will swim next in front of her lens? I am no longer wondering what is in Davy Jones’ Locker, but rather in Zena Holloway’s.

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