Fashion photographer prompts audience to recognize overlooked beauty in new film

Photographer Rick Guidotti began his career in the fashion industry, taking pictures of models that reflected mainstream cultural ideals of beauty. After realizing that this work was personally unfulfilling, he turned instead to photographing what he saw as beautiful, rather than what society deemed perfect. This included non-mainstream beauty, and Guidotti began photographing people with disabilities, albinism, Sturge-Weber syndrome, which results in birthmarks, and other ‘different’ looks.

Through his work, Guidotti is guiding his audiences to recognize beauty that is often overlooked, and to question the often exclusive nature of the fashion industry.

In the documentary film On Beauty, the trailer of which is available below, Guidotti’s journey towards his new area of work is examined in greater detail. The film discusses how the photograph series featuring models with skin conditions and disabilities was intended as fashion photographs, to potentially be featured in magazines, yet people are viewing the photos as ‘art’ instead, to be separated from mainstream fashion photography. Guidotti pinpoints on the tendency of viewers to separate his photographs from societal ideas of ‘authentic’ beauty, saying, “Often when I’m photographing someone with a difference, somebody will come and see the photographs and say, “You’re really capturing their inner beauty,” and I’m like, “F–k inner beauty, these kids are gorgeous!””

The film also talks with several of the main subjects of Guidotti’s photographs, discussing their views of his work and their past experiences. One parent spoke about her experience having her child photographed by Guidotti, stating, “It was the first time I had somebody tell me how beautiful he was. He took pictures of him the way I saw him, not the way everybody else saw him.”

According to the video’s description, “On Beauty is a call to action: a Kartemquin documentary film and social engagement campaign calling on each of us to change the way we perceive, judge and treat individuals with inescapable physical differences.”

On Beauty premiered to international audiences in October 2014. You can learn more about the film at the On Beauty website.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted in Rights.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.