Angeli Dell’Acqua by Zena Holloway
Zena Holloway, the underwater photographer, is an enthusiast. She enjoys being a photographer, but it is the underwater part which really gets her passions bubbling. To talk with her is like taking part in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale; you feel that she is doing her best in a dry world but deep down she yearns to be back where a mermaid belongs – under the waves.
She first dived after taking her A-levels and even though the diving course was held in a grim flooded quarry in Petersham she became enchanted, enraptured and captivated by everything to do with being underwater. She abandoned plans to study architecture and took on the humblest job at the diving school, which included cleaning the toilets.
Diving instruction in the Cayman Islands was a step up and it was there that Zena discovered that a job existed of underwater videographer. During a year making souvenir videos of tourists, as they dived through the glamorous waters of the Carribean, Zena made over 900 dives, an average getting on for three a day.
Watching a film crew carrying a latex-tailed mermaid down to the sea shore and illuminating her with lights and reflectors inspired Zena but the route to becoming a photographer involved a full share of clapper-loading, working for a hirer of underwater cameras, and cable-bashing (lifting the train of cables that the camerman trails behind, so that they don’t get snagged as he moves).
The waters where Zena was building up her experience were exotic: Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zanzibar, with teams working for the Discovery Channel, and the BBC as well as
commercials. She helped film the wreck of the Graf-Spee, sunk in the River Plate during the Second World War, and also the wreck of one of the ships of Nelson’s fleet which was complete with skeletons, musket balls, and gold trinkets like a real-life version of a wreck Walt Disney might have imagined.
A freelance underwater photographer since 1994, Zena now has a very impressive list of clients and a collection of awards. The most recent was a merit in the 19th AOP Awards, but the Royal Photographic Society, The Portugal Film Festival and the Underwater Film Festival, France, have also added to her trophy collection.