Mihaela Noroc, Romanian photographer

Romanian-born photographer Mihaela Noroc has been photographing women around the world for the last four years. She’s captured portraits in close to 60 countries from Afghanistan to  Iceland. Noroc is calling her project The Atlas of Beauty, and she’s planning on publishing a book of her photographs this year. She is being followed by over one million people on social media. 

„I’m a 33 years old photographer from Bucharest, Romania, but I spent most of the last 6 years traveling in different countries of the world.

My father is a painter so since my childhood I was surrounded by colours. When I was 16, I discovered photography but, unfortunately, in the next years I couldn’t make a living from it, so I had to work in other fields, where I could earn a decent income. Traveling during vacations as a backpacker, in different parts of the world, made me discover the diversity of our planet. So when I was 27 I decided to quit my ordinary life in Bucharest and put all my efforts and savings into travel and photography. That’s when I created The Atlas of Beauty.

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In time the project became very popular all around the world, but today I believe I’m the same ordinary person like 6 years ago that loves to discover the unnoticed beauty which blooms in every woman.

I see myself like a normal woman, with ups and downs. I work hard for my dream, and, fortunately, this dream is very appreciated by a large audience. But there are millions of women in the world, that work even harder for their goals and 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 how special they are”.

Noroc got her first camera at the age of 16. Her first subjects were her sister and mother.

Noroc got her first camera at the age of 16. Her first subjects were her sister and mother.
Noroc in Olinda, Brazil, Mihaela Noroc„That’s how I started to love photographing women, in an honest and serene way.”
Elianis in Havana, Cuba. Mihaela Noroc
A 2013 trip to Ethiopia inspired her to return to photography, which she had abandoned after her teachers at university discouraged her from pursuing it professionally.
An indigenous woman from the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. Mihaela Noroc
The Atlas of Beauty started off as a small project funded only by Noroc’s personal savings and known only in her home country, Romania.
The Atlas of Beauty started off as a small project funded only by Noroc's personal savings and known only in her home country, Romania.
Thorunn in Reykjavik, Iceland, is a singer, songwriter, and judge on „Iceland’s Got Talent.” Mihaela Noroc
Noroc wanted her photos to be an antidote to the terrible conflicts we see represented in the media today around the world.
A woman in Preu’s Colca Valley dressed in traditional clothing. Mihaela NorocShe wanted to show the beauty in diversity.
She wanted to show the beauty in diversity.
A woman dressed in traditional clothing in Kaesong, North Korea. Mihaela Noroc
And that instead of being a catalyst for conflict, diversity should be something that’s both embraced and respected.
And that instead of being a catalyst for conflict, diversity should be something that's both embraced and respected.
Koleka photographed in Cape Town, South Africa. Mihaela Noroc
The project didn’t stay small for long. Word of Noroc’s work spread quickly, and before she knew it, she had an inbox full of messages from people around the world.
The project didn't stay small for long. Word of Noroc's work spread quickly, and before she knew it, she had an inbox full of messages from people around the world.
Linda photographed in Chechnya, a republic of Russia. Mihaela Noroc
„I felt a lot of pressure but I also understood that I have to work harder, I have to capture more diversity, find more inspiring stories and I can really send a message that will be heard.”
A woman on her way to the market in Jodhpur, India. Mihaela Noroc
Thanks to donations from people across the globe, Noroc has been able to work on the project full time.
Thanks to donations from people across the globe, Noroc has been able to work on the project full time.
Imane, who has both African and European roots, in Paris. Mihaela Noroc
She’s taken photos in every continent besides Antarctica.
She's taken photos in every continent besides Antarctica.
A girl working in the fields of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Mihaela NorocShe’s captured beauty in places that range from the Amazon rainforest to the Tibetan Plateau.
She's captured beauty in places that range from the Amazon rainforest to the Tibetan Plateau.
A woman in traditional dress in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Mihaela Noroc
Noroc says she prefers photographing more natural faces without a lot of makeup.
Gita, a life coach who lives in Örebro, Sweden. Mihaela NorocShe believes that, „if our outside is natural and authentic, our inside will be more visible.”
She believes that,
A woman photographed in Romania. Mihaela Noroc
A woman photographed in Uzbekistan. Mihaela NorocShe also tries to capture her subject’s environment, since that often makes up an important part of their story.
She also tries to capture her subject's environment, since that often makes up an important part of their story.
A woman in Shiraz, Iran. Mihaela NorocShe photographed this woman in Naples, Italy, working in the workshop owned by her parents.
She photographed this woman in Naples, Italy, working in the workshop owned by her parents.
Serena photographed in Naples, Italy. Mihaela NorocNoroc can get by in five different languages, so if she can, she tries to talk to her subjects and listen to their story.
Noroc can get by in five different languages, so if she can, she tries to talk to her subjects and listen to their story.
Sayaka in Tokyo, Japan. Mihaela Noroc
In some places, though, she says talking simply becomes body language.
Anais was photographed in Berlin, where she lives, but she was born in France to a Malian mother and a French father. Mihaela NorocThrough her work, Noroc has come to realize that beauty should not be defined within the narrow confines dictated by trends.
Through her work, Noroc has come to realize that beauty should not be defined within the narrow confines dictated by trends.
Sarah photographed in San Francisco. Mihaela Noroc
A Tibetan Woman in Xiahe, China. Mihaela NorocNoroc says we also need to learn to let others be themselves.
Noroc says we also need to learn to let others be themselves.
Katharina photographed at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Mihaela Noroc

„For me beauty is diversity and it can teach us to be more tolerant. We are very different but we should realize that we are all part of the same family.”

Sona during the Holi festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. Mihaela Noroc
Noroc also feels that her photographs give women a chance to show the pride they have for their culture or country.
Noroc also feels that her photographs give women a chance to show the pride they have for their culture or country.
A woman photographed on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
 Mihaela Noroc
This in turn helps to inspire confidence in these women.
This in turn helps to inspire confidence in these women.
Eleni in Delphi, Greece, on Easter.
 Mihaela Noroc

Noroc has come across much discrimination towards women throughout her travels.

Noroc has come across much discrimination towards women throughout her travels.
A woman in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Mihaela Noroc

She hopes that her photos will help to make a small change in the way that women are treated.

She hopes that her photos will help to make a small change in the way that women are treated.
Elisabeth, a ceramic artist, photographed in Zurich, Switzerland.
 Mihaela Noroc

„I hope that the project will make more people understand that women deserve much more respect.”

A Bedouin woman in Petra, Jordan. Mihaela Noroc

Noroc is often asked why she doesn’t photograph men. In response, she says she wanted to focus on a single theme for her project.

Noroc is often asked why she doesn't photograph men. In response, she says she wanted to focus on a single theme for her project.
A woman photographed in Harlem in New York City. Mihaela Noroc
Not surprisingly, Noroc also identifies more with women.
Not surprisingly, Noroc also identifies more with women.
Ania, photographed in Poland, was born without a right leg. Mihaela Noroc
A girl photographed in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala.
 Mihaela Noroc

Noroc says we’re surrounded by beauty in our day-to-day lives. But sometimes we’re just too busy to see it.

Noroc says we're surrounded by beauty in our day-to-day lives. But sometimes we're just too busy to see it.A woman photographed in Syndey, Australia. Mihaela Noroc
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