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11 award-winning photos that captured lovely and laughable wedding moments from 2023

Weddings bring up all kinds of emotions. These photographers knew exactly how to celebrate that.

wedding photography, wedding photographer

this year's IWPOTY gave us a Disney princess

Just like the love bonds they celebrate, weddings contain a multitude of feelings—romance, commitment, joy, silliness, both reverence and irreverence all at the same time.

And wedding photographers are given the challenging task of capturing each of those emotions stirred throughout the event. Somehow, through their handful of images, we are supposed to get a glimpse into the unique lives parents are creating together. It’s obviously not easy, but the great photographers make it look effortless.

Every year, the International Wedding Photographer of the Year (IWPOTY) Awards takes entries of outstanding wedding photography from around the globe in various categories like Epic Location, Solo Portrait, and Break the Rules.

Judges selected the most memorable images from 1,700 submissions, and 2023’s winners include a rock-climbing bride and groom, a breathtaking aerial photo, and a moonlit kiss that belongs in a fairytale.


But the grand prize went to something much sillier. Canadian photographer Tara Lilly won the title for capturing the exact moment a bird landed right atop a bride’s head, sending her into a giggle fit and instantly turning her into a whimsical Disney princess.

wedding photography

The IWPOTY grand prize winner.

Tara Lilly Photography/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

"Just as Mitch began his vows, a curious whiskey jack swooped in and landed directly on top of Mikaela's head," Lilly wrote on the contest website. "Mikaela's shock, surprise and laughter were not enough to dissuade this bird from his perch. 'I'm Snow White!' Mikaela laughed."

Judge and photographer Dee Kampe, who won last year's contest, said Lilly’s lighthearted image was picked the winner because “it encapsulates the emotions and narrative that runs through an entire wedding day in a single frame.”

Meanwhile, a heavy dose of dramatic lighting earned Carmelo Ucchino a Runner-Up title, as well as winning the Dance Floor category.

wedding

The IWPOTY The Dance Floor winner.

Carmelo Ucchino/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

In her submission Ucchino noted that the surreal ring of light dancing around the couple is water, meant to add a surreal element to the moment and symbolize how the deep emotion of a wedding “comes to life through the bride and groom.”

Aimée Flynn won the Couple Portrait category, thanks to an incoming desert storm.

wedding photographer

The IWPOTY Couple Portrait winner.

Aimée Flynn/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

"The nice thing is that in places as wide open as the desert, you can […] often see weather approaching… and you can see when that weather will clear, making for the prettiest and moodiest sunset ever," Flynn explained.

"There was so much joyful shrieking as this couple scrambled over the rocks, wind whipping their hair and clothes," she added. "It was chilly and windy, but these two had the time of their lives embracing their (very epic) wedding day."

Flynn also won the Epic Location category for her shot of a couple stealing a sky high kiss.

wedding photos

The IWPOTY Epic Location winner.

Aimée Flynn/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

Flynn knew that since the soon-to-be husband and wife were avid climbers, that their shared passion would be the foundation of their engagement photo. But the rest was purely incidental.

I was turning around to find a new vantage point for photos when I heard, 'Oh, Spiderman style!' from behind me…I looked over my shoulder and saw, well, this, and then frantically started taking photos,” she said, adding, "it's wild to think I had very little to do with the set up of this photo and that this was genuinely just the two of them having fun.”

Winning the top prize for the From Above category, Ben Lane of Tinted Photography's vivid photo shows a couple lying on a dock.

wedding locations

The IWPOTY From Above winner

Tinted Photography/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

“We started our day super early with Marianne and Jeremy to catch the sun rising across Lago Di Braies,” Lane wrote. “Later, they would say their vows to each other, surrounded by the indescribable peaks of the Italian Dolomites. But in between was this moment. We had the jetty to ourselves; the lake was dead calm, the row boats still in their moorings. It was a perfect time for these two to take a moment and just relax with each other.

And then this gorgeous image of bride and groom walking in front of a cathedral, taken by Fabio Mirulla, won the Black and White category.

black and white photography

The IWOPTY Black and White winner.

Fabio Mirulla/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

“I always try to put order to the ‘chaos’ of the world through the lenses of my camera, sometimes through geometries,” Mirulla shared.

And that sentiment is certainly felt in his image. As Mirulla explained, everything came together as the couple was walking down a picturesque street in Italy.

"I turned around and saw that there was a cone of light projecting this very strong shadow against Palazzo del Rettorato," he said. "I immediately took the chance to play with frames to create something different, a strong geometry totally in contrast and discontinuous with the usual aspect of the city which is a purely medieval town with its typical bricks."

"The success of a photo sometimes is being in the right place at the right time and this was definitely the case," he added.

This lively and fun picture of a bridal party won Jeff Tisman the top prize in the "I-Do" Crew category.

bridal party photo

The IWPOTY "I-Do" Crew winner.

Jeff Tisman Photography/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

As Tisman explained in his submission, his goal is to not only offer clients photos, but to give them “an experience.”

For this experience, Tisman had previously taken a bridal party photo of only eight people. When the couple asked him if he could fit all 16 in, to which Tisman replied,” only one way to find out.” And the rest is history.

Another black-and-white photo won the Engagement/Non-Wedding category—this one of a couple diving in the Cook Islands, taken by Julian Zeman.

engagement photos

The IWPOTY Engagement/Non-Wedding winner.

Julian Zeman/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

Zeman wrote that the couple pictured, Steph and Matt, are both marine biologists, so “it was only fitting they merge their passion for the ocean and their love for each other with an underwater photoshoot.”

Though the waters were “choppy” that day, everyone navigated through them beautifully.

This incredible photo of a couple repelling under the stars was taken by Traci Edwards, giving her the winning image of IWPOTY’s Break the Rules category.

wedding photos

The IWPOTY Break the Rules winner.

Traci Edwards/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

"When planning with Gillian and Josh, it was clear how much climbing was a part of their relationship," Edwards wrote in her submission. "Their first date was on a multi-pitch trad route and they got engaged on an epic sport route in Moab. The main things they wanted to be a part of their day: warmth, time to enjoy, climbing, beer and stargazing."

Edwards’ idea wouldn’t be easy to pull off, but “With practice, holding our breaths and some help from passing cars” they ended up with an image that the couple could look back on for years to come.

Shankhesh Jariwala became the Solo Portrait winner with an image that “instantly creates a story.”

bridal portrait

The IWPOTY Solo Portrait winner.

Shankhesh Jariwala/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

“While capturing [the] bride's solo portrait I saw this painting on the wall which was hanging a little higher [and] I instantly created the story in my mind about the painting. I asked [the] bride if she could stand on the little table with those high heels on and she trusted my vision and agreed to do for her perfect bridal portrait,” Jariwala shared in her submission.

Lastly, heaven and earth aligned for Van Middleton to take first place in the Lit category with her otherworldly moonlit photo.

wedding photography

The IWPOTY Lit winner.

Van Middleton Photography/International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2023

"There was a full moon that was tracing a line right between two beautiful big old trees near the wedding venue, and I had a couple that was super excited to be involved in a few outdoors nighttime creative photos (while their friends were partying hard inside!)," he wrote.

Luckily, Middleton had borrowed an LED light from a colleague, which really helped give the couple that standout silhouette.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.




Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?


If all of earth's land ice melted, it would be nothing short of disastrous.

And that's putting it lightly.

This video by Business Insider Science (seen below) depicts exactly what our coastlines would look like if all the land ice melted. And spoiler alert: It isn't great.

Lots of European cities like, Brussels and Venice, would be basically underwater.

In Africa and the Middle East? Dakar, Accra, Jeddah — gone.

Millions of people in Asia, in cities like Mumbai, Beijing, and Tokyo, would be uprooted and have to move inland.

South America would say goodbye to cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

And in the U.S., we'd watch places like Houston, San Francisco, and New York City — not to mention the entire state of Florida — slowly disappear into the sea.

All GIFs via Business Insider Science/YouTube.

Business Insider based these visuals off National Geographic's estimation that sea levels will rise 216 feet (!) if all of earth's land ice melted into our oceans.

There's even a tool where you can take a detailed look at how your community could be affected by rising seas, for better or worse.

Although ... looking at these maps, it's hard to imagine "for better" is a likely outcome for many of us.

Much of America's most populated regions would be severely affected by rising sea levels, as you'll notice exploring the map, created by Alex Tingle using data provided by NASA.

Take, for instance, the West Coast. (Goodbye, San Fran!)

Or the East Coast. (See ya, Philly!)

And the Gulf Coast. (RIP, Bourbon Street!)

I bring up the topic not just for funsies, of course, but because the maps above are real possibilities.

How? Climate change.

As we continue to burn fossil fuels for energy and emit carbon into our atmosphere, the planet gets warmer and warmer. And that, ladies and gentlemen, means melted ice.

A study published this past September by researchers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany found that if we don't change our ways, there's definitely enough fossil fuel resources available for us to completely melt the Antarctic ice sheet.

Basically, the self-inflicted disaster you see above is certainly within the realm of possibility.

"This would not happen overnight, but the mind-boggling point is that our actions today are changing the face of planet Earth as we know it and will continue to do so for tens of thousands of years to come," said lead author of the study Ricarda Winkelmann, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

If we want to stop this from happening," she says, "we need to keep coal, gas, and oil in the ground."

The good news? Most of our coastlines are still intact! And they can stay that way, too — if we act now.

World leaders are finallystarting to treat climate change like the global crisis that it is — and you can help get the point across to them, too.

Check out Business Insider's video below:

This article originally appeared on 12.08.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Photo credit: Canva, @samkelly_world/Threads

The "Notice and Do" list is a great chore list alternative that teaches kids to be aware of what needs to be done.

Though motherhood has long involved the intangible, yet nonetheless taxing responsibilities of managing a household, we’ve only had the term “invisible labor” to actually define this experience for thirty some odd years.

And if the conversation of invisible labor is still fairly new in the world of adults, how can they teach kids to be cognizant of it?

Sam Kelly, therapist and mom of three, has a pretty cool solution to this, and it starts by tweaking the traditional chore list.


On her Threads account, Kelly explained that she has ongoing conversations about invisible labor with her 6, 10, and 12-year-old, where she teaches them that “that the very first step in anything getting done around the house (including chores) is NOTICING that something needs to get done and then doing it.”

It’s through these conversations that Kelly realized the chores charts that most parents use miss this “crucial step,” which only “defaults that emotional labor onto me, their mom/the woman, to carry the load of knowing what needs to get done and then doing the work of assigning tasks.”

So, instead of chores, Kelly’s family participates in an activity she calls their “Notice and Do’s.”

“I’m teaching my kids how to first notice what needs to be done around the house and then take the initiative to actually do it on their own,” she writes, with the end goal being for them to eventually participate in “shouldering the mental load (in age-appropriate ways)” without needing instructions from mom.

Post by @samkelly_world
View on Threads

Long term, Kelly hopes that her kids will not only be more aware of invisible labor that happens every day, but also “have developed the proactive, self-motivational skills to take responsibility for doing it themselves.”

In creating her “Notice and Do” lists, Kelly has also made sure to address—and dispel— inherent gender norms, in both teaching her daughter that it is not solely a woman’s job, and teaching her son to take an equal amount of responsibility.

“This might seem like a crazy fantasy pipe dream. I get it,” she writes. “But slowly, over time…it’s working.”

All in all, other adults seemed to love this approach.

“Those are all great executive functioning skills of planning, organization, perception, attention, working memory and initiation at work. Well done!👏🏾👏🏾,” one person wrote.

“I love this. It really TEACHES instead of just bossing them around. Goes a long way,” another added.”

chores for kids

“I love this. It really TEACHES instead of just bossing them around."

Photo credit: Canva

Kelly’s “Notice and Do” list obviously isn’t a fix-all, but the fact that it’s creating awareness around labor which so often goes unnoticed is such a game changer. Think about how different our society might be if this mindset skill was as commonly taught as the alphabet or time tables.

Thankfully, Kelly did make it easy to teach kids with a free guide, which you can check out here.

Just because it's common in movies, doesn't mean it's common in everyday life.

Odds are you’ve come across a movie or television moment that made you think, “this definitely would never happen in real life.” Or maybe you thought something about a time or place which wasn’t actually real, thanks to a show you watched. I, for example, totally thought separate his & hers beds were a common thing in the 50s, thanks to “I Love Lucy.”

That’s kind of the magic of motion pictures. The line between reality and illusion is sometimes so blurred you really can’t discern between the whole “art imitating life” and “life imitating art” thing. Of course, the unbelievability of some common tropes make you wonder how they’ve endured for so long in the first place.

Recently, Reddit user rustyyryan asked: "What American thing is not that common but shown in many Hollywood movies/TV shows?"

Thousands responded. But here are some of the best answers.


1. "On Law and Order, when the police come and people keep doing their drone jobs. Sorry, but the most exciting thing in my day is a visit by the police, so I’m stopping everything, offering coffee, asking lots of questions, and ratting out my neighbors on unrelated things!"wawa2022

via GIPHY

"The other thing with Law and Order and other cop shows is that people always act annoyed toward the cops. IRL, the vast majority of people are not going to act that way. I’ve had a couple of cop visits and I was always shocked and kind of nervous and there was no way I would have acted like they were getting on my nerves!"logorrhea69

2."Presents where the box lid is wrapped separately from the rest of the box." sra19

"This drives me crazy! I get it...it would be a huge hassle to have to re-wrap a present for every take, plus you have to worry about continuity, but I have literally never seen a present wrapped this way in my life."yourlittlebirdie

3. "At schools, teachers give assignments like normal people and don't shout it at the class as they're departing after the bell rings." Beezo514

via GIPHY

4. "Women having sex while wearing a bra the whole time. That's the first or second thing I take off of her." BendingDoor

5. "The houses and apartments shown do not represent the living conditions of most folks."rjainsa

"One of the reasons Spielberg's films from the '80s/'90s were so believable was that he insisted on houses looking lived in. The Goonies and E.T. both showed messy houses, single parents, scruffy kids, etc." springloadednadsack

via GIPHY

6. "Empty parking spaces on city streets." other_half_of_elvis

7. "Especially right in front of the place you’re going."BxAnnie

8. "Moms making huge breakfasts that no one eats." babyfresno77

9. "This is the one. Every time, I’m like, 'What time are these kids getting up? What time does school start?'"DanDan_notaman

10. "Cars exploding in a crash." St_Ander

"My husband is a firefighter, and he hates car explosion scenes in movies because they don't happen the way movies show them happening."Specialist-Funny-926

11."I noticed that no one has screens on their windows on TV. Where I live the bugs would carry you away."RusticSurgery

via GIPHY

"This one drives my husband crazy. He always comments on this when someone opens a window, sticks their head out, or throws something out. Could not do that where I live."Sunnywithachance099

12. "Shoes on the bed." slash-5

"I absolutely hate that trope. People with their shoes on beds or sofas. Hate it."Farscape29

13. "Classes last longer than for the teacher to say something pithy, ask someone a question and then hear the bell ring. School buses don't honk for your lollygagging ass. If the bus stop is empty, they keep driving." Scrotchety

14. "Halloween party costumes are much more elaborate on TV compared to real life."Fireproofspider

via GIPHY

"You never see anyone in some crap they picked up at Spirit Halloween 30 minutes before the party."Repulsive-Heron7023

15. "Nobody ever has to ask someone to repeat themselves in a movie. I probably say, 'What?' about 60 times a day." Street-Suitable

"This is all TV and movies. Nobody ever stumbles over their words unless it is a plot-necessary miscommunication or the bumbly can't get my words out trope."Jimmy_riddle86

16. "Abrupt endings to conversations or phone calls without saying bye." ParapluieGris

via GIPHY

"OMG, thank you. Seriously, I wondered if people actually did this."raggitytits

17. "The idea that you could be like six months behind on rent before they threaten to evict you, or six months behind on the power bill before they cut off your electricity. Maybe it used to be like that, but it sure isn’t anymore." komeau

18. "People in a bar ordering a 'beer.' In real life, the server would likely be exasperated and ask about brand/kind and quantity." remymartinia

"This one drives me nuts. I have never once in my 14 years working at restaurants and bars had someone just order a 'beer.'"EveInGardenia

…and lastly…

19. "Kids dressed up for school, which would result in them being sent home to change…Also, teens wearing stilettos to school."Wulfkat

via GIPHY

"Most teenagers today wear a baggy sweatshirt or a large T-shirt to school."Randomthoughts4041

Popular

Paul Alexander spent over 70 years in an iron lung. What he was able to accomplish is amazing.

Paralyzed after a polio infection as a child, Paul Alexander was still able to visit the beach, fly on an airplane, and graduate from law school.

Wikipedia/GoFundMe

Paul Alexander lived an amazing life overcoming incredible adversity

It’s a sight we don’t normally see these days: A man lying prone in a big, metal tube with his head sticking out of one end. But it wasn’t so long ago that this sight was unfortunately much more common.

In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of people each year were infected by polio—a highly contagious virus that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brainstem. Many people survived polio, but a small percentage of people who did were left permanently paralyzed from the virus, requiring support to help them breathe. This support, known as an “iron lung,” manually pulled oxygen in and out of a person’s lungs by changing the pressure inside the machine.


Paul Alexander was one of several thousand who were infected and paralyzed by polio in 1952. That year, a polio epidemic swept the United States, forcing businesses to close and polio wards in hospitals all over the country to fill up with sick children. When Paul caught polio in the summer of 1952, doctors urged his parents to let him rest and recover at home, since the hospital in his home suburb of Dallas, Texas was already overrun with polio patients.

Paul rested in bed for a few days with aching limbs and a fever. But his condition quickly got worse. Within a week, Paul could no longer speak or swallow, and his parents rushed him to the local hospital where the doctors performed an emergency procedure to help him breathe. Paul woke from the surgery three days later, and found himself unable to move and lying inside an iron lung in the polio ward, surrounded by rows of other paralyzed children.


@ironlungman Episode 1 of Convos with Paul! We will be responding to comments and questions about Paul’s life, his polio, and life in an iron lung! Please be positive 😊 #PaulAlexander #poliopaul #ironlung #conversationswithpaul ♬ Chopin Nocturne No. 2 Piano Mono - moshimo sound design


Paul struggled inside the polio ward for the next 18 months, bored and restless and needing to hold his breath when the nurses opened the iron lung to help him bathe. The doctors on the ward frequently told his parents that Paul was going to die.

But against all odds, Paul lived. And with help from a physical therapist, Paul was able to thrive—sometimes for small periods outside the iron lung.

The way Paul did this was to practice glossopharyngeal breathing (or as Paul called it, “frog breathing”), where he would trap air in his mouth and force it down his throat and into his lungs by flattening his tongue. This breathing technique, taught to him by his physical therapist, would allow Paul to leave the iron lung for increasing periods of time.

With help from his iron lung (and for small periods of time without it), Paul managed to live a full, happy, and sometimes record-breaking life. At 21, Paul became the first person in Dallas, Texas to graduate high school without attending class in person, owing his success to memorization rather than taking notes. After high school, Paul received a scholarship to Southern Methodist University and pursued his dream of becoming a trial lawyer and successfully represented clients in court.

Images of a younger and older Paul Alexander in his iron lungPaul Alexander lived an amazing life overcoming incredible adversityWikipedia/GoFundMe

Paul practiced law in North Texas for more than 30 years, using a modified wheelchair that held his body upright. During his career, Paul even represented members of the biker gang Hells Angels—and became so close with them he was named an honorary member.

Throughout his long life, Paul was also able to fly on a plane, visit the beach, adopt a dog, fall in love, and write a memoir using a plastic stick to tap out a draft on a keyboard. In recent years, Paul joined TikTok and became a viral sensation with more than 330,000 followers. In one of his first videos, Paul advocated for vaccination and warned against another polio epidemic.

Paul was reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19 at the end of February and died on March 11th, 2024. He currently holds the Guiness World Record for longest survival inside an iron lung—71 years.

Polio thankfully no longer circulates in the United States, or in most of the world, thanks to vaccines. But Paul continues to serve as a reminder of the importance of vaccination—and the power of the human spirit.

““I’ve got some big dreams. I’m not going to accept from anybody their limitations,” he said in a 2022 interview with CNN. “My life is incredible.”

Joy

One of the World War II's only female fighter pilots flies her favorite aircraft 70 years later.

During her time in the service, Joy Lofthouse flew 18 different aircrafts. But one always held a special place in her heart.

Photo pulled from BBC YouTube video

The 92-year-old war vet flies again

More than 70 years after the war, a 92-year-old World War II veteran took to the sky once again.

It's been decades since her last flight, but Joy Lofthouse, a 92-year-old Air Transport Auxiliary veteran, was given the chance to board a Spitfire airplane for one more trip.


Lofthouse was one of just a few female pilots to fly for the British during World War II, part of an all-female division nicknamed the "Attagirls."

Her job as a service pilot was to shuttle planes from the front lines back to factories for repairs. During her time in the service, she flew 18 different aircrafts, but one always held a special place in her heart.

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An expressive smile in WW2 vets picture from long ago.

Photo pulled from BBC Youtube video

To mark the 70th anniversary of the war's end, she was called on to once again fly in a Spitfire, her favorite model.

In the video, she shows such genuine excitement and nervousness. She tells the interviewer that she's not as confident as she was when she was younger, and that she is "aware of [her] age." Still, she couldn't pass up the chance to fly again.

After landing, Lofthouse just beamed, proving that it's possible to be amazing at any age.

"It's very hard to describe the feeling," she told BBC News. "It almost makes one feel young again."


This article originally appeared on 05.19.15