Elle. GQ. New York. Paris. More than 20 years ago, fashion photographer Rick Guidotti was living a high profile, award-winning professional life. But an unexpected moment—crossing paths with a girl with albinism—shifted his perspective of beauty, and his future forever. Since 1998, through his nonprofit Positive Exposure, Guidotti has been photographing and sharing images of individuals living with physical, genetic and behavioral differences in an attempt, as he says, to help people “not see a disease, or a diagnosis, but see a human being.”
Through a collaboration with The Resource Exchange and Chapel Hills Mall, 32 of Guidotti’s photos of locals went on display last year in a glass-front gallery at the mall. This October, The Spirit of Difference exhibit grew with the addition of 46 new photos, and it has become a permanent, free display.
“The fashion industry—for me, it wasn’t like walking away from it, because for me it’s always been about beauty, and it still is about beauty,” Guidotti says. “Then it was only defined in the fashion industry—when I realized, no, it’s everywhere, it’s not just on covers of magazines, it’s around us.”
The photographer says he loves to look at his subject’s family and loved ones during photo sessions. “They’re glowing because finally somebody sees what they see, and they know the world is now going to see,” Guidotti says. “We’re going to share that with everybody.”
Suzanne Donehower, mother of one of this year’s models, says the experience has been special. “We have not taken any professional photos as a family since Sarah was very young,” she says. “It is very difficult to get Sarah to look at the camera at the same time as everyone else, so our best family pictures are candid photos.”
That wasn’t the case working with Guidotti. “Sarah felt so at ease and gladly supplied [Rick] with an endless stream of smiles,” Donehower says.
“We are grateful to be a part of his vision to expand what we all see as beauty,” she adds. “I have honestly been giddy with excitement in anticipation of how this work will be used to help and encourage others.”
Read more from our interview in “Positive Exposure With Rick Guidotti.”
Spirit of Difference