Bio: Alissa Hollimon lives in Dallas, Texas and runs Hollimon Photography. Alissa works mainly for Zachry Group and the National Basketball Association. Years ago, during the NBA offseason, Alissa began taking photos for many aid organizations throughout Africa. After a few years she felt a need to give back more than just images. With overwhelming generosity and help from others, Alissa founded Arise Africa, a ministry based in Zambia that helps individuals live a life that God desires for them. Arise Africa works in communities and schools helping to pay for education, food, clothing, school supplies and many other projects. Alissa has a newly published photography book that documents the lives of orphan and vulnerable children in Africa. All sales from the book go back to the kids. To learn more about Arise Africa please visit ariseafrica.org.
AHD: Your work spans a variety of subjects, from weddings to pro sports, construction to commercial. What is the most exciting photography shoot you’ve been a part of?
AH: I’ve been so blessed to get to cover many different shoots and events. I have great clients. I think the most exciting shoots for me to be a part of are the NBA playoffs. That’s when it gets real! I love the intensity that comes with it.
AHD: What is your favorite thing to photograph?
AH: My nephews, but I am not a children’s or portrait photographer so don’t email me for that! But I love getting to take their photos. I also really love photographing our Arise Africa kids in Zambia that I know so well. I guess when I know the subjects personally it is really special to me.
AHD: It’s clear by looking at your work that Africa is close to your heart. How did you first come to find yourself in Africa?
AH: I started working in Africa for various aid organizations documenting their work. I worked all over the continent and was exposed to difficult things. But I also saw some people that were making major impacts in a positive way.
AHD: What ultimately led you to found Arise Africa?
AH: I was working in Zambia on my photography book for 5 months. When I left there I knew that I couldn’t walk away and not try to help the children and people that had loved and cared for me so much during that time. It was one of those moments in life when you just know that God is calling to try to do something. I couldn’t turn my back on them. Never in a million years did I think we would get here so fast.
AHD: What was the greatest challenge and greatest joy in doing so?
AH: The greatest challenge is trying to juggle both Hollimon Photography and Arise Africa. There are many nights when I get back from a photo shoot at my hotel and our Zambians are waking up for the next day across the world and I start to work on Arise and email them. Arise Africa is experiencing growing pains right now which is a great problem to have! So we are making changes that will help a lot, but we need support to do it.
The greatest joy is going to Africa and seeing God’s hand in the work there. Nothing can compare to watching kids become nourished and grow or go to school for the first time. We have seen people’s lives radically changed and this is very powerful. Our Zambian team is amazing at what they do, and watching them serve their culture is very special and rewarding.
AHD: How are you using your creativity for the common good in Zambia?
AH: I hope my photo book and photography for Arise Africa have raised awareness of the poverty and ways people live there. I believe it has shed light on the struggles that children and adults face, and given hope in some ways. I pray that my images continue to encourage people to help and see that differences can be made.
AHD: Do you feel that all artists should use their gifts and abilities to advance a cause?
AH: Absolutely, and I think a lot do! I’ve seen so many projects by writers, musicians and other artists that benefit great causes. I really think the most important part of this is that the artist has to get involved in something he or she is passionate about. It might not be Africa or kids, but something else just as special. If the artist is committed then I feel that a lot could happen. Even volunteering your skills can be so beneficial.
AHD: How can someone get involved and support Arise Africa?
AH: First you can buy a photo book to support our work over there! (They are great Christmas gifts and all sales go to our efforts!) Next you can visit our website, email us with questions or ideas, and jump in. You can find us on Facebook and join our mailing list too. We have so many options for you to help through education, nutrition, faith and more.