Fashion photographer Rick Guidotti has worked in NYC, Milan and Paris for clients like Revlon, L’Oreal, Elle and GQ – and now he’s turning his attention to the vitiligo community.
Having spent years being told who to photograph and who was beautiful, Rick found himself frustrated with the fashion and beauty industry as a whole.
“I’m an artist,” said Rick, speaking at the 2018 World Vitiligo Day Conference in Massachusetts. “I don’t see beauty only on the cover of magazines – I see it everywhere.”
And he means it. Taking a break during an Elle photo shoot in New York City one day, Rick looked down Park Avenue and noticed a woman waiting for a bus who had long white hair and white skin – a condition called albinism. She was stunning, recalled Rick, and he had never met a model who looked like her before – because she didn’t meet the fashion standards of beauty.
That moment sparked something for Rick and he began researching people with albinism and genetic differences. What he found was equally upsetting and surprising – medical and research images that depicted diseases instead of people.
“It was always the story of the victim,” said Rick, sharing what he found at that time. “I couldn’t find one positive reference to albinism.”
He decided to do something about it and formed an untraditional partnership – offering his fashion photography skills to a genetic support group to celebrate albinism. His first model was a beautiful woman who walked in with her head down.
“She had faced teasing and abuse for years and had no self-esteem,” said Rick. “So I photographed her like any other super model. She desperately needed to change the way she saw herself.”
That experience created the philosophy that drives Positive Exposure, the non-profit organization Rick started to support his work: change how you see, see how you change. Today, Rick has worked with people with albinism and other genetic conditions around the world and Positive Exposure has grown to include a variety of award-winning programs celebrating people with differences and educating the world about them.
Now Rick is turning his attention to vitiligo.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.