21 september, 2018

Rick Guidotti, founder of Positive Exposure, used to be an award-winning fashion photographer with clients like Vogue and Elle. One day he saw a woman on the street waiting for a bus. This woman did not only change Rick’s life and choice of photo models – she also became the start to change the face of beauty.

Rick in action

In 1998 Rick Guidotti ended his career as a fashion photographer due to his new mission – the project Positive Exposure. After he saw a girl with albinism waiting for the bus he could not stop thinking of her. He went to the library to read more about the condition. The pictures of people with albinism in the books made him terrified – they looked nothing like the girl he saw on the street. Rick decided to try to change the pictures and improve the representation of people with disabilities, therefore he started the project Positive Exposure.

Positive Exposure is a world wide project where Rick travels around to take photos of individuals living with genetic, physical, behavioral or intellectual difference. The photos later on become exhibitions (both online and on real walls) and the aim is to make a change on how people define the word “beauty”. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals as diverse as Elle, GQ, People, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Lancet, Spirituality and Health, the Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and LIFE Magazine.

FRAME

One of his latest projects is FRAME (Face Redefining the Art of Medical Education) – a web-based educational library and resource created by Positive Exposure in order to change how medical information is presented to health care professionals in training, clinicians, families and communities. The library consist of brief films that give future genetic counselors, nurses, physicians, OT’s, PT’s, families and communities, a more robust understanding of featured genetic, physical, intellectual and/or behavioral conditions, while at the sametime modeling an attitude of respect for the humanity of patients.  Rick explains that the aim for every film they produce is to present individuals living with specific genetic conditions in a manner, which captures their humanity and beauty.

During Rick’s lecture

We got the opportunity to meet Rick during a lecture and a couple of photo sessions at Ågrenska in Göteborg. We asked him some questions about his work:

What was the most important thing for you when you started to do your first photo shoots for what later become Positive Exposure?

The idea was, and is still today, to create an opportunity for the world to see beauty where they don’t know it exists. It goes back to myself – I use to wonder how often I walked by the girl with albinism waiting for the bus before I really saw her and her beauty.

Rick and Ebba during a photo session

How do you work while taking photos of people?

It is always a collaboration! The person who is getting photographed is as much included in the process as I am. The surrounding area around Ågrenska was amazing so we walked around and changed location during every session.

You have involved in this for 20 years now. How do you perceive the global development when it comes to changing attitudes? Do you see a positive or negative trend when it comes to acceptance, openness, attitudes?

It depends on where in the world I am. Sometimes I can see that the acceptance and attitudes are a million steps ahead, in the next second a million steps behind. I see great advances, but things are going backwards too. Change is happening, especially when it comes to acceptance of disabilities among people, but there is much more we have to do.

I also see a change in how we see on beauty: we are not buying that photos of people on magazines nowadays. We all know that the industry does a lot of photo retouching and editing.

We are in the beginning of looking at beauty as being extraordinary instead of what the ideals say is “perfect”.

Rick, Ebba and Ebba’s mum

What changes do you hope to see in the future, say 20 years from now?

20 years from now I hope there are global diversity centers all over the world to celebrate diversity, give people the opportunity to talk about differences and share stories. I would like to see more representation across borders, and that people can see the value of having a diverse team. I also hope that people around the world will be more able to see the possibilities instead of the challenges.

Finally I want an including world – ”it’s a huge party and everyone has to be invited, otherwise it would suck.”

If you want to know more about Positive Exposure you can read on the website here. Rick has also done a Ted Talk which you can watch here.

Link to Positive Exposure Photo Gallery: here

You can read more about FRAME here: here

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