Photographer’s Portraits Capture What Beauty Looks Like Around The World
These portraits show beauty in all its forms.
Photographer Mihaela Noroc has been traveling the world and photographing women since 2013. Born in Romania, she’s since taken photographs in nearly 60 countries, from Afghanistan to Iceland to Cuba.
That's me in Olinda, Brazil, a few days ago. During my travels around the world I had many challenges. There were a few hard moments when I just wanted to go home and have a comfortable life. But knowing that so many people, from so many parts of the world, follow The Atlas of Beauty, gave me strength and enthusiasm to continue. And then better days came! Thank you so much to all of you for being part of this community and sending me so much positive energy every day!
Noroc’s project is called “Atlas of Beauty.” The idea is to show the planet’s diversity through portraits of women. The project began after Noroc quit her job at the age of 27 and put her efforts and savings into travel and photography, so inspired was she by a trip she had taken to Ethiopia. Since then, Atlas of Beauty has become popular around the world, with a strong following on social media. More than 1 million people follow the project on Facebook, with nearly 200,000 viewing the stunning photos on Instagram.
I noticed them through the wide open door of their shop in Recife, Brazil. They sell children’s clothes. They told me that everybody tells them to keep the door closed, because the streets here are sometimes dangerous. But they like to feel the air and sun, and have never had a problem. Janet, 95, and Aida, 87, opened this shop 22 years ago. They make a great team because Janet loves to talk, and Aida likes to listen. #TheAtlasofBeauty #Brazil #AroundTheWorld
“I see myself like a very normal woman, with ups and downs. I work hard for my dream, and, by chance, this dream is very appreciated by mass media,” Noroc writes on her website. “But there are millions of women in the world, that work even harder for their goals and maybe their activities don’t seem so spectacular from the outside. I hope I will have the chance to photograph some of them for the project, capturing their inner and outer beauty and showing them how special they are.”
Noroc speaks five languages, helping her communicate with women in other countries, but she sometimes uses translators or relies on body language.
You can’t imagine what a joyful woman is Ania. She has one of the most impressive stories that I ever heard. Ania was born in Poland, 24 years ago, without a right leg. Her mother abandoned her in the maternity hospital and begged a doctor to take care of her. “The doctor kept me illegally in the maternity hospital for many months. She knew that if I would be sent to an orphanage I could never have a normal life, in my situation.” When Ania was 19 months old, she was adopted by a Belgian family. "My parents are amazing. They adopted more children with disabilities and we all grew up happily in the countryside of Belgium, surrounded by animals from farms, enjoying nature. I always loved sports. As a kid, I had many adventures. I was running on the rocks and in the forests, I was always feeling free and independent. I broke my prosthetic several times. Back than it was impossible to have a proper one for sport, because I didn’t have a femur. Every night, before falling asleep, I was imagining myself running and running like an athlete. And my only dream was to have a proper prosthetic for sport. After a while, I started to think that if I will become an well known athlete, my biological mother will see me in the media and I will have the chance to find her in Poland. I really wanted to tell her that I never condemned her for what happened.” The second part of the story, soon. #AroundTheWorld #TheAtlasOfBeauty #Belgium #Poland #Inspiration #Sport
“Through my photography I want to capture that feeling of warmth and serenity which comes from the eyes of a woman and can balance sometimes the negativity we see in the media,” Noroc writes. “Many people from all around the world face discrimination just because they have a certain color, religion, ethnicity or because they are women. I think beauty is diversity and it can teach us to be more tolerant.”
Noroc plans on publishing a book of her photographs this year. More of the incredible photos are below:
This German young woman travels as much as she can. Her loved ones are spread all over the world and she is still searching for a place where she would love to live. Lisa was coming from a trip when I met her 3 weeks ago, on the streets of Berlin. She carried a huge backpack with her and many interesting memories. When she started to talk her cheeks turned red. Her blushing was lovely but for many years she felt embarrassed about it. "I was very insecure with my skin. I thought people could look through me. Everyone could see when I was nervous or excited. I love to sing, I was in some bands but I was too afraid to sing in front of audience because of my skin which used to get very blotchy. I hated it because of the red spots and all the scars of the accident." When she was 11 years old Lisa was hit by a tram. "I had many broken bones, some smashed organs and plenty of angels by my side." She incredibly survived. Today she can walk, she can travel, she can do whatever she wants. And most important, she learned to accept her scars and her blushing. In the end, beauty is about being yourself, natural and authentic. #TheAtlasOfBeauty #Berlin #Germany #AroundTheWorld
Even on the rainy days, most of the people of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, prefer to walk or use a bicycle, rather than a car. Emilia stopped for a few minutes and told me about the happiest moment of her life. She was recently chosen for an important part in an opera. To step on the stage of Royal Swedish Opera, at only 20 years old, as a soprano, was an incredible experience for her. Being surrounded by famous opera singers and having her family in the audience made her prouder than ever. I'm sure that this is just the beginning of a wonderful career. #TheAtlasOfBeauty #Sweden #AroundTheWorld
I took this photo in Mumbai, India, in December 2015. Now I'm in Stockholm, Sweden where Mothers Day is celebrated today. While traveling around the planet in the past 3 years, I noticed a lot of discrimination towards women. Even in 2016, in many communities or families around the world, women are considered inferior and treated awful. And I'm just thinking, how ignorant can you be to treat another human being like that, considering that you were born by a woman and you exist because of her. #TheAtlasOfBeauty #AroundTheWorld #India