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Finding “Positive Exposure”: Organization Promotes Diversity and Reframes Beauty


Session at the 2024 SDPA Annual Summer Dermatology Conference helps clinicians reframe beauty and empower patients.

As a leading fashion photographer, Rick Guidotti had the opportunity to photograph some of the most beautiful models in the world. A chance encounter in 1997 inspired him to redefine and reframe beauty while supporting diversity and empowering individuals living with genetic, physical, behavioral, or intellectual differences, including dermatological disorders.

Guidotti, the featured speaker at the 2024 SDPA Annual Summer Dermatology Conference, shared his story and words of inspiration in an exclusive interview with Dermatology Times.

“Positive Exposure is a nonprofit organization that promotes a more inclusive world through photography, through film, and through educational programs,” he explained. “For the past 25 years, we've been collaborating with individuals and communities at risk of stigma and exclusion, celebrating the beauty and richness of human diversity.”

One day following a casting call for Elle Magazine in his studio in New York City, he was walking down Park Avenue and noticed “a gorgeous kid” with pale skin and white hair waiting for a bus, he told Dermatology Times. Recognizing it as albinism, he sought to do some research on the topic.

“Instead of finding images of this beautiful kid waiting for a bus, I saw horrible images: kids up against walls in doctor's offices with black bars across their eyes or naked or in their underwear; I saw images in cancer clinics,” he said. “I knew right then and there that something needed to be done. We needed to change the representation that was out there.”

He reached out to an advocacy group for albinism. “I haven't been able to find one positive representation of albinism anywhere, and I've been searching,” he told them. “So let's do something strange. Let's form a nontraditional partnership—fashion photographer and genetic support group—and together we'll collaborate and create a photographic essay that actually celebrates the beauty of albinism.” They agreed, Guidotti said, and Positive Exposure was born.

Guidotti celebrates the beauty of children around the world with various disorders via his pictures, capturing their warm smiles and their eyes sparkling with personality. In doing so, he has a positive impact on their lives.

He told Dermatology Times about one of his earliest encounters. “I'm really excited to get started, and in walks this gorgeous kid with albinism to be photographed. But she walks in with her shoulders hunched, head down, no eye contact, one word answers. This kid had zero self esteem as a direct result of the bullying and the teasing she experienced every single day in the in the classroom environment because of her difference. And it broke my heart.”

“Just the day before I'd photographed Cindy Crawford on the same set for a Revlon shoot. And I have a respect for this kid, so I want to photograph her like I would any supermodel,” he said. “So the fan went on, the music on, and I literally held up a mirror and said, ‘Christine, look at yourself. You're magnificent.’” He said she took a new look at herself in the mirror, and exploded “with the smile that literally lit up New York City.”

Since then he has worked with hospitals, clinicians, and organizations to photograph children and help them to celebrate their beauty.

“I'm doing this big project in Houston right now in dermatology, and working with various clinics, creating an opportunity for these kids that are wearing their diseases or their conditions; conditions they can't, but try very hard to, hide,” Guidotti said. His response to them is “No, you're stunning. You've got this.” He helps boost their self esteem and helps them to reframe how they see their own reflection.

Reframe Positive Exposure

Reframe Gallery © Positive Exposure https://positiveexposure.org/

“Our slogan at Positive Exposure is: Change how you see, see how you change,” he explained. The goal is “to create opportunities for not only individuals living with differences to see beauty in their own reflection, but also to change their own attitudes about themselves. But also to then help change public perceptions of differences. And really positively impact communities that have normally received a negative reaction to difference”

“Now through positive imagery, there's changing opportunities to see beauty in difference,” Guidotti said. “And once you see that beauty, once you see that humanity, it doesn't shift back, you stay enlightened. And that's what we believe in. It's all about creating this human movement.”

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