Zorah Olivia: A lens into the soul

Within the chaos of life, there are those moments of clarity when everything else just falls away. For Zorah Olivia, clarity comes in the shape of a lens, creating magic with the click of a button.

She has photography in her blood. Her father was Sam Holden, a famous photographer who merged his love for music and film into one. His portfolio includes portraits of artists like Good Charlotte and Nickleback. With her mother being an artist as well, Zorah was born into a creative home, forming the building blocks for her own desires.

This is where skateboarding comes in. It’s incredible to think that one action can snowball into something so much greater than the initial thought. Growing up, skateboarding became a passion and a past time for Zorah, but it wasn’t until she got an opportunity at Camp Woodward (a famous skateboarding camp where pros like Tony Hawk came from) that she found her true calling.

Source: Instagram @zoraholivia
Source: Instagram @zoraholivia

A photo internship at Woodward burst the doors of opportunity open when she realized her dual passions could exist in harmony. Of course, this would make her dad happy as well. After all, he was the one who brought her into the dark room as a child and instilled his love for film photography in her.

College is a turning point for most people, but for Zorah, it mostly led to heartbreak. It was sophomore year when she finally found her calling amidst a project surrounding Auschwitz. She received The Presidential Award for her photos and was given a show for others to appreciate her gallery.

This night was the last time she spoke to her father before he passed away. In one moment, everything changed. She found her place in the photography world in one moment, and lost her father in another. Her inspiration faded and college became a burden rather than a place to grow.

Even after he was gone, her father was still with her, helping her along this journey we call life. After hard work and a drive compelled by adversity, a contact finally broke through and led Zorah to the X-Games, where she rekindled her passion for photographing skateboarders. This led her to ultimately move to Los Angeles and pursue her career.

Source: Instagram @zoraholivia
Source: Instagram @zoraholivia

Within months of moving to LA, Zorah was published by Thrasher Magazine, which is basically the New York Times of skateboarding.

Although photography and skateboarding are her passions, they do not come without reservations. Every time she picks up a camera, she is reminded of her father, causing her heartache to reaffirm itself within her soul. But this in itself might be why her images are so compelling — because everything she does has purpose.

Her subjects can feel it, the almost palpable fire in which she breathes into her work. After every shot, she reviews it and makes sure it’s what they want, and what she wants. She is collaborative and determined, with a vision that speaks directly through her lens. She understands her craft and molds it in ways only she knows how.

Source: Instagram @zoraholivia
Source: Instagram @zoraholivia

If she wanted to, she could put down the camera and maybe find some peace. Instead, she holds her pain close to her heart and puts it at the forefront of her life. Every photo, every moment she captures, is a dedication to her dad and a testament to her own future.

Something happens when Zorah starts to shoot. It’s as if her whole world shifts and it’s just her, the camera, and her subject. It’s as if her fathers spirit flows through her, and through the pain, she smiles.