“Unity in Diversity”- Mihaela Noroc’s Photographs Of Ordinary Women With Extraordinary Beauty

Shiraj, Iran as one of the first subjects of Noroc's photography.

What is beauty? Is it an art, an innate charm or an expression? This is probably what Mihaela Noroc, the Romanian photographer is trying to capture through her lens that has taken her to distant landscapes and cultures. Her "Atlas of Beauty” is a metamorphic canvas that maneuvers to change the perceptions of the onlookers towards the concept of beauty. Defying the traditional norms of beauty whose definition rests on a certain color, class and race, her "Atlas” seeks to define new meanings and ways of looking at one of the most powerful subject- the woman. Her lens aims to capture this subject in simplest and candid manner- with various hues, expressions and colors.

Mihaela Noroc herself

Mihaela Noroc is a 30 years old Romanian photographer whose passion to artistically delineate the beauty of women across boundaries has taken her to cultures and civilizations that are far beyond her own. Initially begun as a small project that focused only on her country, this desire has undertaken gigantic proportions for which today national and international lines are too thin to stick on to. In her own words she counters the conventional and commercial forces that have always decided how women are to be captured on screen. She says, "Through my photography I want to capture that feeling of warmth and serenity which is so specific to women and comes to balance all the negativity that we see in the media.”

Here, Noroc has captured an Australian artist who is also a mother. Notice the serenity o her face.

To portray diversity is her motive. But through that diversity she wants to send across an idea that even though women in different locales might have different attributes that define them, it is the expression which remains the same. For her, beauty is not a matter of cosmetics, money, race, attire or social status, but it’s about being yourself- away from the external patriarchal forces that construct them. Eyes that are the most expressive of human feature find a prominent place in her photography. It’s a journey and a rendezvous for her as well, as she wants to dive into their self, their soul through their eyes.

 A woman from Arequipa, Peru. Rather than a mark on her beauty, her facial shadow seems to be empowering instead. 

It is ultimately her leitmotif, diversity, that can inspire us to be more tolerant, more accommodative and more liberal in our perceptions. So in the Atlas colored with "wars, conflicts and Fear”, her "Atlas of Beauty” is a message to accept differences.

A woman from Harlem, New York. This is the same place that gave birth to Harlem Renaissance during 1920s, the movement that sought to empower Black art and literature. Today, after so many years this woman seems to be the embodiment of the same confidence and trust. 

 Driven by one project and desire, Mihaela has tried to capture beauty in places such as "Brazilian favelas, rough neighborhoods of Colombia, in some isolated area of Afghanistan, in an Iranian Mosque, on the Tibetan plateau, in North Korea, in the Amazon Rainforest, but also in classy areas of Oxford, in Downtown New York or in Istanbul”.

 A woman in a Tea House in Istanbul, Turkey. Against this backdrop, her face innumerates Turkish culture and tradition.

 A young woman from Moldova. Look at the use of red colour here.

 A woman from Jodhpur, India. Beauty comes in all colours and hues. And this is what Noroc portrays here. 

A woman from Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. This picture clearly contests the obsession that we generally hold for urban beauty. 

 A Mongolian beauty from Ulaanbaatar

A market seller in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. For Noroc, beauty can be found at unexpected corners!

 A woman in Beijing, China. Modern Beijing finds a full expression here. 

 An urban girl from Timisoara, Romania

A painter herself put into canvass! This is the photograph of a woman painter, in her studio,in Valparaiso, Chile.

 A woman from Amritsar, India. Noroc found this Sikh woman pilgrim during the Langar in Golden Temple. Langar is a practice where food is served to all visitors for free. 

 A Buddhist nun from Kathmandu, Nepal. Austrerity has lent her an intrinsic charm here.

This is a picture of an ethnic Pamiri woman taken in Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region, Tajikistan. What defines beauty over here is her native charm. Seems to be so distant from the traps of modernity.

 A Kurdish young woman from Istanbul, Turkey. Look at the colors of her clothes that merge so well with the backdrop.

 A tribal woman from Amazon Rainforest. Noroc said that she wanted to capture the "authentic beauty, untouched by the modern world, like the nature around it."

Noroc wants to enhance the diversity around this world through the faces of women. This is an image of a Colombian girl and the closest picture of all.

 A woman from Cali, Colombia. Confidence is the sexiest thing that a woman can wear and this girl does it with an elan.

 What strikes the viewer in this picture of a woman in Rio de janerio is the backdrop of a street. Authentic locations are the central feature of Noroc's works.

After all, the beauty lies in the eyes of beholder! Being a woman herself she is here to add a more nuanced understanding of female beauty through her pictures that state a story behind them!

Liz, a localite in traditional ecuadorian clothes that were carefully preserved in her family. 

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"- This is what the famous British poet John Keats has said. And this is what Noroc is doing by immortalizing her subjects in a digital frame that captures their essence. There are many a times when you would have seen the celebrities being photographed but it’s here that you shall see ordinary coming to the forefront and making us aware of its own beauty. What we need is a pair of eyes to appreciate and recognize them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NEHA KAPOOR NEHA KAPOOR

A lover of literature, Neha wants to understand world through the prism of books. Nuances of words, spoken or written, entice her to delve into the human psyche. A voracious reader of Partition and feminist literature, she desires to deconstruct and unlearn the congealed forms of knowledge system.

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