Professional photographer Mehmet Genç photographed women from various indigenous communities to see how they would react when told they are beautiful.
“Maria Ignesia is Kichwa indigenous and lives in the Guamote village of Ecuador. When I took a photo of her, she was wearing her new hat.”
Genç, a Turkish travel photographer, goes by the name of Rotasiz Seyyah which roughly translates to nomad without a route. He worked for six years is IT in Istanbul before quitting his job to pursue his passion of photography.
“This woman was a merchant in the bazar of Otavalo city of Ecuador. “
One of the quotes from his site
“Fools courage can sometimes help you make the most important decisions in your life.”
“Zarekkın is 77-years-old and she is Arhuaco indigenous. She doesn’t speak any Spanish.”
Born and raised in Samsum, Turkey, Genç began traveling in 2012 and picked up English and Spanish along the way.
“Evangelina Pausajiı is 100-years-old and she is Wayuu indigenous. She lives in Nazareth village of Colombia. She is so healthy. She can make a bag without glasses. I wanted to take a photo of her but she was so shy. At first I only took one photo of her and then I said ‘you are so beautiful.’ After her smile I understood that this compliment works for all women.”
He has visited nine different indigenous communities and is currently in the state of Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil.
“Diomayda is 35-years-old and from the indigenous Arhuaco community. She lives in rural of Colombia where there is no electricity and no cell phone signal.”
His project titled “You are so beautiful” began in January 2015. Genç began documenting before and after photos of women’s reactions when told they were beautiful.
“Margarita is 74 years old and she lives in the Otavalo City of Ecuador. She tried to sell me fruits in the bazaar.”
He specifically chose older women as the subjects of his project because he believes they have not heard any such compliment in the last 10 to 15 years of their lives.
“I met this sweety grandma in the Santa Maria de Jesus village of Guatemala. She was selling peanuts on the ground in the bazaar. I bought some peanut and then I asked permission to take a photo of her.”
Sometimes he encounters people who have lived as long as a hundred years. He says the compliment has a similar effect regardless of age.
“Fidelina Cortes is 75-years-old and lives in El Salvador. I visited her house with a local friend.”
After photographing the women, Genç takes down the information of the women including their name, age and address.
“Kozmita Gomis lives in the Atalaia do Norte town of Amazon, Brasil.”
“Mımba is 17-years-old and she is Marbuo indigenous. She lives in the Amazon of Brasil. The name of her baby is Maya. I couldn’t take any photo of her at first day because she was so shy.”
“Mathilda lives in the Xela city of Guatemala. The right side of her body is paralyzed. I said to her, ‘I want to take a photo of you.’ She said back: ‘I don’t have any teeth. Don’t make me laugh.’ She said again: ‘Please don’t make me laugh.” I said: ‘You are so beautiful like a young lady.'”
In the future, he plans to retrace his steps and take similar before and after photos of the same women. His tentative trip will be after 2023.
“Maria Dolares is 70-years-old and from the Kichwa indigenous community. She lives in the Otavalo City of Ecuador. She doesn’t speak any Spanish. Her grandson helped us to translate what she said.”
I visited Don Diego village of Colombia. I asked permission from the leader of the Arhuca indigenous village to walk around.”
“Juliano lives in the Cabo De La Vela village of Colombia. These areas are like a desert. There was no rain over the last four years. She has a mask to protect her face from sun. She was selling handicrafts.”
“Meto is 33-years-old and she is part of the Marubo indigenous community. She lives in the Amazon in Brasil. She can only speak her own language. I learned how to say, ‘hello, good bye and you are so beautiful,’ in her language at my first day in the village.”
“Iwini-eva is 64-years-old and she is Marubo indigenous. She lives in the Amazon of Brasil. Also she is first lady. Because her husband is the leader of the Marubo indigenous. At first I took a few photos of her and then I said to her ‘roacaeşta.’
“I met her in her shop in San Cristobal city in Mexico and bought some souvenirs here. Her hair was attached to colorful things at the end of it. I put her hair in the front with my hands and said, ‘Now you are more beautiful.'”
“Altena Perera Dasiva is 88-years-old and lives in the Atalai do Norte town in Amazon, Brasil.”
“Vasi Joaki is 78-years -old and she is Marubo indigenous. She lives in the Amazon of Brasil. She can only speak her own language. I visited her house with a nurse from the village.”