Photographer Proves People With Genetic Conditions Are Just as Stunning as Supermodels (PHOTOS)

positive exposure portraitSomething in us makes a clucking noise when we hear or see someone with a genetic, physical, or behavioral difference. Our reflex is to feel sorry for them for not being "normal." Fashion photographer Rick Guidotti's not-for-profit organization Positive Exposure aims to change that knee-jerk reaction. As far as Guidotti's concerned, these are our world's REAL supermodels.


Guidotti spent much of his career photographing the top models in the world, including Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer. He shot for magazines like Elle and cosmetic brands like Revlon and L'Oreal.

"In the early days, I bought into what I was told was beauty, hook, line, and sinker," he tells us exclusively.

Then one day, on a break from a photo shoot, Guidotti spotted a young woman with albinism waiting at a bus stop. (Albinism is a congenital disorder that causes a lack of pigment in skin, hair, and eyes.) He thought she was exquisite.

Fascinated, he went home and tried to find other photos showcasing the rare disorder. He was shocked when all he could find were gruesome shots in medical textbooks "that showed people looking like disease and despair."

Guidotti approached a genetic support group, excited to take portraits of their members, but "their first reaction was to get lost," he remembers. "They had strong fears of exploitation."

People were frequently singling them out for sensationalistic photos and stories. "Even in movies, they would be the villains," Guidotti says.

But he persisted, and finally they saw that his heart was in the right place. "I wanted people to see diversity, not a diagnosis," he says.

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His first subject was Christine, a young woman with albinism. "She walked in, shoulders hunched, eyes down," Guidotti says. "She'd been bullied all her life, but she was so beautiful."

He treated her just like he would a supermodel, pulling out a fan to blow back her hair and a mirror so she could get a good (new) look at herself. "I said, 'Christine, you are magnificent,'" says Guidotti. "She needed to change how she saw herself ... Once you see that image, you stay enlightened."

That's the whole point of Positive Exposure, the nonprofit Guidotti founded in 1998. (He's long since stopped working for the fashion industry.) PE's goal? To use photos and videos to transform public perceptions of people living with genetic, physical, and behavioral differences.

Aside from photo shoots, PE also offers self-esteem workshops, lectures at medical schools, and an image database for the media. Their work is featured in a new documentary, On Beauty, out in select theaters now.

"Beauty doesn't exist in obvious places," says Guidotti. "Our philosophy is 'Change how you see, see how you change.'"

See for yourself:

positive exposure portrait

positive exposure portrait

positive exposure portrait

positive exposure portrait

Images courtesy of Rick Guidotti

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