By now you’ve probably seen some of the images flooding the internet taken by the photographer Mihaela Noroc for her Atlas of Beauty project. The striking pictures of women’s faces—usually make-up free—looking straight into the camera form an incredible collection that aims to showcase “our planet’s diversity.”
The 29-year-old photographer from Romania has amassed an almost cult following since catching the eye of the almighty online media earlier this year—her social media followers are well into the couple of hundred thousands. And it’s easy to see why. The girl has natural talent and there’s such a genuine sentiment behind her work. “I can [now] say that beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race, or social status, but more about being yourself,” she says. Her work sends an important message about globalization. “Maybe in 50 years, women from all around the world will dress and act the same. I hope my project will remain a witness of my era’s cultures and traditions.”
Two years ago, Noroc quit her day job and armed with just her backpack, camera, and savings she began travelling around the world (she also speaks five languages, something which has undoubtedly come in handy). To date she has visited over 40 countries in all continents (except for Antarctica), photographing women in Brazilian favelas, rough neighborhoods of Colombia, in Iranian mosques, on the Tibetan Plateau, in the biggest Buddhist temple of Myanmar, in the Amazon rainforest, and also in provincial Oxford, downtown New York, and the suburbs of Sydney. Her travels haven’t been easy—long days are spent working without breaks, the routes are exhausting, there are viruses to be caught. But Noroc perseveres with her passion. A few months ago she set off for yet another journey. She visited Korea, Mongolia, and China, and when I contacted her, she was in Nepal and due to shonky internet connection and unpredictable working hours, we couldn’t chat on Skype. But she managed to send me some of her beautiful images and a few thoughts. Enjoy!
“When I photograph a woman, I talk a lot. I try to make her feel special, proud, and unique.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is always somebody else.”
“I think beauty is not about age. It’s more about being natural and sincere.”
“Sometimes I only have 30 seconds to take a portrait, if I meet an interesting woman, by chance, on the street.”
“I hope the The Atlas Of Beauty is like a mirror of our diverse societies and an inspiration for people to try to remain authentic.”
“Every day, the media [shows us images that belong] in the Atlas of Wars, Conflicts, and Fear. More than ever, our world needs an Atlas of Beauty to show that diversity should keep us united and that tolerance should prevail.”
All images copyright Mihaela Noroc.