Finding Beauty and Connection through Photography

Life can oftentimes seem so very, very mundane—even hopeless. However, for many of us, photography and other similar creative mediums provide opportunities to look more closely at gray reality and find beautiful gemstones shining among the rough and rubble.

In this short interview, National Geographic photographer Rena Effendi discusses the process by which photography has taught her how to find beauty in unexpected places and how to connect with the locations and people that she photographs so that she is able to create masterful images:

Having grown up in tumultuous Azerbaijan during the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, Effendi is passionate about using her photography to depict humanity’s incredible strength “in the corners of the world that are not exactly beautiful.” In Effendi’s view, the best way to do this is to expend the time and effort necessary to deeply understand those specific areas and people that she is intending to photograph before she ever picks up her camera.

“You start to fall in love with a place only after a certain time passes and that’s when you take your most powerful images,” said Effendi. “You become this superhuman being that doesn’t need anything. You just go out taking pictures and you don’t notice bad weather, or hunger, or exhaustion. You just take pictures.”

rena effendi refendi national geographic nat geo

This image, which is featured in Effendi’s “Built on Grass” photo series, depicts a group of Transylvanian farmers working in one of the village’s many hay meadows.

Rena Effendi began her career in photojournalism in 2005 after leaving her job as an economic development specialist. She has since published multiple books and has had her work displayed in many a gallery and magazine worldwide.

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