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Fine Art Photographer Bella Kotak Transforms Insecurities Into Beauty and Inspiration

Photography is often an underrated tool, especially when it comes to helping others with self-confidence or overcoming personal issues. Fine art photographer, Bella Kotak, went through some health issues herself a few years ago, and her whole world began to change. She couldn’t find inspiration anymore and discovered how much other people suffered as well but still put a brave face on for the world. It inspired her to create a new series of stunning images showcasing and celebrating feminity, inner light, and strength of spirit captured against the ever-changing backdrop of nature. And don’t believe for a second she used agency models; she reached out to women with insecurities issues that follow her. Here are some of their stories.

When Kotak decided to find other people who went through difficult times in their lives, she got over 100 submissions for women sharing their stories. She was shocked to see the number of varying issues people had had to go through – abuse, self-harm, mental health, and many more. From there, the project "Beauty in Bloom" was born and the fine art photographer created a masterpiece with each of the women she had selected, visually showcasing their inner beauty.


Two years ago, she decided to leave Taiwan to follow her dream to become a fashion designer. She applied to the University of Art of London, but it was difficult for her to make decisions, even more so as she didn’t speak much English. During her interview, she had troubles speaking and also understanding what they were talking about. However, Ts-Ying's artistic skills didn’t go unnoticed and she received an offer from the university. Thanks to this opportunity, she feels like she now has the power of overcoming any future difficulties.


Imagine waking up with your heart beating as if you had run a marathon but actually didn’t do anything apart from sleeping. It’s what happened to Mairead when she was 20. After a year and a half spent visiting hospitals and GPs, she finally was diagnosed with a rare tumor on her pituitary gland which is making her body produce too much thyroid hormone. Monthly injections are what keep it under control for now as brain surgery hasn’t gotten rid of the tumor.

Her hair fell out badly because of her illness, and it wasn’t an easy thing to deal with for her. She felt comfortable wearing her hair only in one style, cut it herself, and became obsessed with her appearance. Time helped her finding a healthier balance, and once she actually stopped caring about it, it started growing again. She even put on muscle and started climbing. Now, she’s begun to care more about being healthy and strong rather than wanting to be prettier.


By the time she was 16, Maria had already lived in three countries and moved out of home. She thus feels intimately connected with three different cultures, and she’s also met different kinds of people who helped shape the person she’s become today. But battling with weight issues and anorexia was also part of what helped her grow and become who she is now. Through this, she’s learned to appreciate the human body in all its shapes and sizes, and the road to recovery taught her a lot about accepting herself and learning to appreciate the beauty of the female body.

Dealing with ongoing various skin issues also played a role in her self-image. Having her personal flaws painted on her skin made it difficult for her to be confident and accept herself into society. She was afraid of how people would react and perceive or issues, and, even now, she’s still learning to recognize these flaws and trying to find a way to flaunt her scars rather than hiding them.

If you enjoyed these three stories and images as much as I did, be sure to read all of them on Bella Kotak’s website. I hope this kind of series empower you to go out, create meaningful pictures, help others with your art, and share it with the world.

Images by Bella Kotak, videography by Joe at Detail Films, with the help of assistants Pratik Naik, Indy Sagoo, Niz, and Ella.

[via Bella Kotak]

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Gabrielle Colton's picture

Wow, I absolutely love this!!!!!

Brandon Laurent's picture

Such a great and insightful passion project!

John Ohle's picture

The video is now unavailable?

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Just changed the link, sorry for the trouble.