It began, as these things do, when 30-year-old Mihaela Noroc quit her job on a whim. She had a little bit of money saved up and decided it was time to travel, to capture her adventures on camera.
But she didn’t snap pics of herself standing on a dramatic cliff, selfie stick in clutch. She didn’t take super close-up macro shots of in-focus flora with fuzzy skyline backdrops. Instead she took pictures of the people she met -- women, particularly women who struck her as beautiful.
Her aim in cataloguing beautiful subjects -- which she posts on her popular blog, The Atlas of Beauty -- is "to balance all the negativity we see in the media."
"Every day, when we watch mass media we see an Atlas of Wars, Conflicts and Fear," Noroc writes of her project online. "People are fighting just because they are different, because they have a different religion, culture or race."
Noroc’s conception of universal beauty is an individual confidently representing her environment, posing as naturally as possible. Most of the women she photographs have never had a professional portrait taken, which Noroc counts as a big benefit; there’s less posturing involved, and the focus is not on catering to a broad audience of viewers. Instead, the women in her photos stand proudly, gazing head-on at the camera.
"After photographing women in more than 45 countries I can say that beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race or social status, but more about being yourself," Noroc writes. "Global trends make us look and behave the same, but we are beautiful because we are different."
Scrolling through The Atlas of Beauty, beauty becomes not a universal standard, but a complicated tapestry.
The below photos and captions are from Mihaela Noroc's The Atlas of Beauty blog.