Accessibility links

Photographer Turns Lens to People with Genetic Conditions

  • John Walker

Where do you find beauty? Fashion magazines? Music videos? One American photographer is finding beauty in unexpected places. And a new documentary about his work might help change the traditional standards of “who” is beautiful.

Rick Guidotti put aside his career as a fashion photographer to turn his lens to people living with genetic, physical and behavioral differences. He says what changed his perception of beauty was a chance encounter with an albino girl.

"I was just tired of people telling me who was beautiful," he said. "Every season that face would change but I was always told who was beautiful. And as an artist, I don’t see beauty just on covers on magazines. I see it everywhere. So that was my initial - that opened my eyes a little wider and wider."

Guidotti has created Positive Exposure, a not-for-profit organization that uses photography and video to transform public perceptions and promote a world where differences are celebrated. Guidotti and Positive Exposure are featured in a new documentary, "On Beauty."

The cast and crew recently hosted a screening at Georgetown University in Washington. One of the women featured in the film is Jayne Waithera, who recalls growing up as an Albino in Kenya, and how meeting Rick Guidotti changed her life.

"I never thought I was beautiful because nobody said that to me but meeting him was my profound moment," she said. "I remember that particular day he took my picture and I felt so good like I felt there’s somebody who, like, really loves me and sees me for who I am and who sees me more than my condition."

The documentary is the brainchild of producer Joanna Rudnick. After seeing Guidotti’s photos, she decided to tell his story.

“Rick has been way ahead of us for years and we’re just catching up to him," she said. "We can no longer live within this confine. It’s boring and it’s discriminatory. It’s exclusionary and there’s just too much sadness around that, and there’s no room for growth. It’s time to explode that."

Rudnick and Guidotti are traveling from city to city to promote "On Beauty." They say their tour is not about money, it’s about the message.

"As we travel from community to community we're taking photographs and we're empowering individuals with a powerful sense ot who they are," Guidotti said. "They're seeing beauty in their reflection but we're also empowering their families and they in turn are empowering their commuunities as well. All based on the philosophy of change - how you see, how you change."

"On Beauty" is currently screening in Los Angeles and New York City.