Valheria Rocha’s journey to designing the album cover for Taylor Swift’s forthcoming record might be, to the outsider, a little surprising. Originally from the country of Colombia, the 24-year-old photographer and graphic designer has lived in Atlanta for most of her life.
While it may seem opportunities have just fallen into her lap, that’s far from the truth.
All of it, Rocha said in an Instagram Story posted Thursday, is the result of what happens when you “really surrender” to God.
During an interview with Elle, Rocha, known for her artistic flair on Instagram, said she first got her start with celebrity work when a small magazine, Crybaby, put out a bulletin in 2016 for photographers in the Atlanta area. Rocha was one of the few artists who responded to the magazine’s request.
Soon, she found herself shooting photos of Shannon Purser, the actor who portrayed the beloved Barb on Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” (Is anyone else ready for the third season? RIP, Barb.)
To date, Rocha said her photo shoot with Purser is one of her favorite projects. It was also the first time her work got a lot of attention.
A few years later, and with a bigger portfolio to carry around, the young photographer soon found herself with another high-profile client: pop star Taylor Swift.
Swift first shared Rocha’s work in late April, when she posted a simple but whimsically star-studded photo of herself to Instagram with the heart-emoji-laden caption, “ME! by the one and only @valheria123.” It was a teaser for the singer’s first single — “ME!” — from her upcoming album, “Lover.”
And it looks like the partnership between Swift and Rocha is going well. On Thursday night, when the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer dropped the second single from her yet-to-be-released album, she also debuted the cover art for the record.
The 29-year-old entertainer again thanked Rocha for her work, describing the Instagram-famous photographer as an “artistic genius.”
Rocha, though, used the opportunity to give credit to God for her success.
“Look at God work, y’all,” she wrote. “My heart is so full. Thank you for this, T. Your soul is as brilliant as that sunset sky. Never in my wildest dreams did I dream this. ‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.’ Matthew 5:14.”
In the New Testament passage Rocha referenced, Jesus told his disciples during his beloved Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
Jesus was explaining to his followers that the Gospel is good news, a source of intense light in a broken world shrouded by darkness and despair. Those who dedicate their lives to the Gospel are a living, breathing representation of the kingdom of heaven.
In her Instagram Story on Thursday, Rocha explained she had been feeling pretty “down and doubtful” earlier in the week and spent some time poring over her past journal entries.
“It really reminded me of why I do anything in life,” she said. “You know, why I’m even here in the first place, like why I even have a spark of creativity in my brain, like why any idea ever comes to me. And I remembered that that’s the most important thing — and that’s God.”
She went on to say she had been praying a lot because she “felt like I had let God down,” because she wasn’t remembering her “purpose.”
“I apologized and I let things go and I really, really surrendered and I really let it go,” Rocha recalled. “You see what God can do when you really surrender and when you really let go and you let him, just let him.”
So, while it might look from the outside like opportunities have just fallen into her lap, the reality is, God is ordering Rocha’s steps, day by day. All she has to do, she says, is surrender.