World renowned former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti
founded Positive Exposure
in 1998 after he made it his mission to help others change the ways in which they see things, so in turn, they could begin to see change.
“As a fashion photographer, I was always told constantly who’s beautiful—who the model of the moment was—so I always stayed within those parameters of what was a restrictive beauty standard, and I was always told it was beautiful,” Guidotti says. “And as an artist, I don’t see beauty just on the covers of magazines. I see beauty everywhere.”
It was after leaving his studio that Guidotti says he saw a girl with albinism who was “just beautiful.” He had never met a model who looked like her, he says, so he began to research individuals with albinism to see what he could find.
“I found nothing but horrible images—kids in their underwear up against walls in doctors’ offices, images of just disease, sickness—I didn’t see any photographs of this gorgeous kid,” Guidotti says. “And it’s always ‘the evil albino’ that we see depicted in movies, in Hollywood—every representation I could find was a negative. And it was so upsetting and so eye opening.”
So Guidotti partnered with the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
to make something beautiful and show the world something different, he says.
“So this girl walks in the room and she was amazing—she was so beautiful, but she walked in with her shoulders all the way up, no eye contact—she had zero self esteem, and I can only imagine the abuse she had in school, the teasing” Guidotti says.
“I didn’t know what to do—she was so vulnerable—but just the day before, I had photographed Cindy Crawford, and I said out of respect for her, ‘I’m going to photograph her like I’d photograph anyone else,’ so the fan went on, the music went on, and I took a mirror and said, ‘Christine, look at you—you’re magnificent—and she looked in the mirror and she saw it. Her hands went on her hips, and she exploded with the smile that lit up New York City. It was incredible.”
It’s this beauty that Guidotti sees because of the shared humanity we all possess, he says, and it’s what’s inspired him to shift his lens from fashion photography to individuals who are portrayed as being diseased or disabled, but who are nothing short of amazing.
And that’s the clientele that Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled
works with everyday on the local level, as well as the mission of the ReelAbilities Film Festival
, which the organization will present Feb. 27-March 7.
As part of the organization’s ReelPrograms
leading up to the festival, Guidotti will speak to local schools, share his story, exhibit Positive Exposure, The Spirit of Difference
at FotoFocus, and photograph local families with physical and mental disabilities to add to his collection, which will be displayed during ReelAbilities.
“It’s inclusion, and it’s happening concurrently, but it’s individuals everywhere in the world that don’t want to be seen as diseased or as a diagnosis,” Guidotti says. “We all want to be seen as human beings.”
• Hear Guidotti's story, and check out his work, as well as other events taking place through ReelProgram
events. This Cincinnati tour of Rich Guidotti is presented by the Edwards Foundation managed by Crew Capital with support from Contemporary Cabinetry East.
• Support Cincinnati ReelAbilities by donating
• Spread the word about ReelAbilities and all of the events coming up by volunteering