Gold 2015 / Editorial / Personality


  • Prizes
    Gold in Editorial/Personality
  • Photographer
    Tatyana Bessmertnya

I signed on with LEAP Foundation to travel, to volunteer, and to, hopefully, help people. My first trip was to Zimbabwe - a place where beauty is law, and outcasts are openly punished. Spending time with these souls, I came to better understand their hopes, dreams, and fears. I also grew to know that beneath their cursed flesh, they are even more beautiful. I learned that cleft lip and palate - one of the most common birth defects - isn't simply an issue of appearance, but one which predetermines a child's ability to grow, eat, breathe, and speak. Burn scars are not only a skin surface problem, but produce immobilizing extremity contractures. Local nurses and parents shared that, most notably, having unusually looking child carries with it a curse for the whole family. I observed patients and families awaiting evaluation; the camera lens recognized wounds upon the soul and the timid faith in a change for the better. It was straightforward to photograph my heroes: doctors, nurses, and support staff - who pushed their abilities to work to the limit in order to help as many people as possible; to share their knowledge and the state of the art with medical professionals in a developing country. My goal was to help the foundation document it's mission of over 20 years. I soon found myself very much attached to the patients and families, remembering from my own past, how it feels to have adversity in one's life superimposed within a country during difficult social and political changes. The following portraits, will glorify beauty as the ability to be human.