Hadia’s Story

Heloisa Oliveira  also known as Hadia

Creator of Transformative Photography

I was born in Brazil and have duo citizenship (Brazilian-American.)

I lived away from my native land for 19 years, in nine different countries: in Europe, Asia, Australia, and USA. My interest in ethnic cultures and dance took me to Bali, Japan, Australia and finally Bhutan. The outcomes of all these rich experiences were the pillars of my becoming a model, a photographer/artist, stylist, creative image consultant, and public speaker on Bhutanese colure related themes.

I went to live in NYC at the age of 16 to study English and dance.

I supported myself as a governess in a home, as a waitressing etc.

I stayed there for over three years. I then moved to Europe, became a successful model and an aspiring photographer. I did an internship on photography at the Royal College of Art. Being around these highly creative people in the fashion world was a tremendous source of inspiration for me.

hadia modeling

Modeling Career

At the age of seventeen, I was discovered in NYC as a potential model and advised by Aileen Ford to go to Europe.

I moved to Paris to pursue a professional modelling career. My first modelling break was a campaign in Paris for Jean Louis David and he photographed me. The image he captured was iconic and full of freshness, spontaneity, and natural beauty.  It inspired me and gave me  the confidence I need at the time.

Being a model opened broad avenues for me and helped to develop life skills such as, the ability for self-management, discipline, the capacity to intuitively and steadily evaluate and respond to all sorts of situations These worldly experiences provided me with many opportunities to potentially flourish as a human being especially in artistic, humanistic and spiritual domains. I worked with excellent designers, stylists and photographers such as Horst, Jean Louis David, David Bailey, Otto Stupakkof, Terence Donovan, Mike Reinhart and Guy Bourdin, I learnt a lot from them.  I had many rare chances: to meet interesting people, learn languages and travel the world.

My trajectory and choices as a woman, artist and photographer

Motherhood has been a life changing experience for me.
It made me a better person and inspired to expand creatively and professionally; my research and exhibitions flourished in this phase.

My interest in portraiture photography began with children when I was a young model.

Nurtured by storytelling, these playful sessions would grow naturally into what became the blueprint of my work. My Transformative Photography work started then, without my being actively conscious of it.


hadia (5)
Hadia and Son

Back in Brazil and motherhood

Motherhood has been a life changing experience for me. It made me a better person and inspired me to expand creatively and professionally.  My work and exhibitions thrived in this phase.

I built myself a home in a beautiful gated community in Brazil, Retiro das Pedras near a large city called Belo Horizonte.

I settled down for a while, had my wonderful son Juliano who is now in his early 20’s. In parallel to motherhood I  also worked for Oxford University Press in Brazil.

Since 2007 I have been going to Bhutan and became a Buddhist. Becoming a Buddhist and learning to start to discipline my mind by practicing meditation techniques was a major turning point in my life. It creates possibility of facing the world with more awareness, patience and resilience.