These stunning portraits showcase courageous, talented women from around the world.

In 2013, Mihaela Noroc left her job, packed a backpack, and took off on an adventure most of us only dream about.

The then-28-year-old traded in her day job to travel the world, photographing women in their home countries and natural environments.

Three years on, she's still taking photos and sharing their stories through her digital project, The Atlas of Beauty.


A woman in Banjara peels shrimp at a fish market in Mumbai, India. She arrived here from Southern India, in search of new opportunities for her children. All photos by Mihaela Noroc, used with permission.

Traveling on a shoestring budget, Noroc meets and photographs women from all over the world.

She's traveled to six continents and more than 50 countries, connecting with women across geographic, economic, and social lines.

A woman in Cape Town has sold meat in this very spot for the past 30 years. "I was fascinated by the gentleness of this lady in such a rough environment," Noroc posted.

From isolated areas in Afghanistan and Brazilian favelas to urban centers like Istanbul and New York, Noroc finds beauty everywhere she goes.

A beautiful shot of a woman in Shiraz, Iran.

She captures some portraits quickly on busy street corners.

On her first day in Beijing, Noroc met a young woman who hopes to sing with the Peking Opera.

Others take time and immense patience, as she meets the women for more elaborate shoots.

Eleni, from Delphi, Greece, wears contemporary clothes most days to work in her family restaurant. But once a year, during Easter, she celebrates in traditional garments with her community.

But each photograph celebrates strong, talented, beautiful women from around the globe.

A mother poses with her daughters. They're refugees from Syria living in a camp in Idomeni, Greece.

If there isn't a language barrier, Noroc often engages the women in conversation.

In discussing their families and dreams, the subjects often tap into universal feelings, concerns, and goals that many women share.

Like Urvashi Patole, who started an all-women's motorcycle association in India and is empowering women to go on adventures and challenge stereotypes.

"After photographing women in more than 50 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 wrote.

A Kichwa woman living in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon rainforest poses for Noroc in her wedding outfit.

Noroc hopes to publish the first edition of "The Atlas of Beauty" in 2017.

For now, she continues to travel the world, camera in hand and the same well-loved backpack along for the ride.

A young woman living in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor.

"Every day, when we watch mass media we see an Atlas of Wars, Conflicts, and Fear," she said. "More than ever, I think our world needs an Atlas of Beauty to show that diversity is something beautiful, not a reason for conflicts."

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
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While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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