Renowned fashion photographer Rick Guidotti returned to University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital this spring to celebrate the courage and beauty of our young patients.
Guidotti met with children and families receiving treatment in our pediatric dermatology program on April 27 and 28 for a series of one-on-one portrait sessions. Guidotti is the founder of Positive Exposure, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the spirit of difference.
“I have always seen beauty all around me in human diversity,” Guidotti said.
Guidotti first visited the hospital in 2017. This spring—supported by a gift from the Groves Foundation, a longtime partner of our pediatricdermatology program—he came back to photograph children with dermatologic conditions. With the family’s permission, the portraits will be displayed at our pediatric dermatology clinic within the Pediatric Specialty Care Discovery Clinic. Pediatric Dermatologist Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, and others involved in the project hope the portraits will reduce the stigma that often surrounds skin conditions, instead energizing the space with life, humanity and beauty.
“We treat a range of conditions, and our young patients with visible differences deal with stigma in their day-to-day lives,” Maguiness said. “We want to communicate the positive message that it’s great to be different. Rick’s work is a special and inspiring way to highlight our patients.”
Guidotti left a prominent job in the fashion industry working with high-end clients in order to create Positive Exposure. Through the nonprofit, Guidotti began photographing people with genetic, physical, behavioral and intellectual differences, including albinism.
Guidotti hopes his work helps to teach everyone who sees it to recognize the beauty in visual differences, rather than reacting negatively. “Our communities need to change how they see and respond to differences,” he said. “Everyone deserves to love what they see in the mirror.”
To promote that message, Guidotti travels to hospitals and communities throughout the nation, as well as visiting patient support groups and medical associations. He also spends time at medical schools, helping to train future healthcare providers. “The focus should always be on the person, not on a disease. It should always be about who we treat, not what we treat,” he said.
“To me this project means empowering our patients to feel confident in their own skin. It allows them to teach others about their conditions or birthmarks to help eliminate the stigma that can be associated with visible differences,” said Pediatric Dermatologist Christina Boull, MD.
Guidotti is exceedingly passionate about his work. His favorite part? Watching how parents or family members react when their child is photographed.“When you look at the parents, they’re shining just as much as the child is—because finally, someone is seeing their beloved child through their eyes.”