Nature feels different when you can actually look it in the eyes.

For more than two years, photographer Tim Flach has been capturing images of rare, threatened, and endangered animals.

Many of Flach's photos were purposefully framed to resemble portraits of humans, focusing in on the animals' faces. The effect is striking — there's a lot of great nature photography out there, but seeing an eagle from a distance and getting to make eye contact are two very different experiences.


Giant pandas live in bamboo forests in China. It's estimated there are just over 1,800 left in the wild. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

After all, there's some frisson about looking into someone's eyes — a small thrill, or fear, or excitement that comes from the sudden intimacy.

Capturing that frisson wasn't always easy, though. Some shots were taken in nature preserves or zoos, but Flach also travelled the world to find his subjects — including the wobbly-nosed saiga below.

The saiga's ridiculous nose might help filter and warm the cold air it breathes. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

Saiga are wild antelope that live near the Caspian Sea, where locals hunt them down on mopeds. In order to get their portrait, Flach originally had travelled to the region in the summer, but the weather ended up being so hot, it actually distorted his pictures of the rare antelope. He had to go back during the (equally harsh) winter to get the shot.

Flach has now turned his project into a book, "Endangered," which was published by Abrams and is available online. If you want to see more of Flach's portraits, check out 21 more of them below:

1. Axolotl

Axolotl hail from Mexico and, unlike most salamanders, keep their gills their entire lives. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

2. Beluga sturgeon

Demand for beluga caviar has led to heavy fishing of this massive fish. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

3. Bengal tiger

Bengal tigers are some of the biggest wild cats in the world. Fewer than 2,500 may still live in the wild. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

4. Blue-throated macaw

Blue-throated macaws live in Bolivia and are threatened by the illegal pet trade. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

5. Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are some of humanity's closest living animal relatives. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

6. Crowned sifaka lemur

Sifakas, like all lemurs, are endemic to Madagascar. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

7. Golden snub-nosed monkey

These monkeys live in central and southwest China. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

8. Iberian lynx

There used to be less than 100 of these rare wild cats, but thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers are rebounding. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

9. Gharial

Gharials are related to crocodiles and live around India and Pakistan. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

10. Lemur leaf frog

Lemur leaf frogs are natives to Central and South America and threatened by habitat loss and fungus. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

11. Mandrill

Mandrills are the world's largest monkey and live in Central Africa. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

12. Northern white rhino

Northern white rhinos are some of the rarest animals on Earth. As of this writing, only three may remain. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

13. Philippines eagle

One of the largest eagles in the world, the Phillipine eagle is known for eating monkeys. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

14. Pied tamarin

[rebelmouse-image 19397996 dam="1" original_size="750x478" caption="These monkeys come from a single, tiny area in Brazil. The word "pied" refers to their multicolored heads and bodies. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission." expand=1]These monkeys come from a single, tiny area in Brazil. The word "pied" refers to their multicolored heads and bodies. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

15. Proboscis monkey

Hahaha, look at that schnoz. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

16. Ring-tailed lemur

Ring-tailed lemurs are some of Madagascar's most recognizable denizens. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

17. Sea angels

Though these sea angels might look like little airplanes, they are, in fact, a kind of free-swimming slug. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

18. Shoebill

Shoebills live in eastern Africa and are kind of intimidating, if I'm being honest. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

19. Snow leopard

Snow leopards live high in the Himalayas and are famous for their stealth and jumping ability. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

20. Western lowland gorilla

The Western Lowland Gorilla's scientific name is Gorilla gorilla gorilla. That's awesome. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

21. White-bellied pangolin

Pangolins are some of the most trafficked animals in the world. Photo from Tim Flach/Tim Flach Photography Ltd./Abrams, used with permission.

Flach hopes that by framing these rare and endangered animals in this way, it can help people reconnect with nature.

We come from the natural world and depend on it. As our lives become more digital and removed, we need a way to reconnect to the other animals that share the planet with us.

"The most important message is that it’s not simply images of animals but that every aspect of our being is influenced by the natural world around us," Flach told The Guardian.

If you want to see more of Flach's work, follow his Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, or visit his website. His book, "Endangered," is available from the publisher's website.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

This article originally appeared on November 5, 2013


When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.





















The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

But as Angelo commented: "These photographs do not define us, but they are us."

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Police arrest man suspected of scamming an elderly woman.

There has been a rise in scams against the elderly during the pandemic. According to the FBI, American seniors were scammed for $1 billion dollars in 2020, up $300 million from the previous year.

To stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic, more seniors joined social media, opening them up to new avenues for fraud.

“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the FBI report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”

But when scammers came after 73-year-old Jean Ebbert in Long Island, New York, they had no idea they were dealing with a law enforcement veteran. Ebbert is a former 911 dispatcher, so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.

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