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Positive Exposure Photographer Helps Students See the Beauty in Being Different

 Dr. Mimi Blitzer saw Guidotti's work and arranged for him to come speak at the school.

What is beauty? That's a question photographer Rick Guidotti thought he knew the answer to as he spent his days snapping shots of supermodels for Harper's Bazaar. Then one day he spotted an albino girl at a bus stop. Struck by her unique beauty, he began researching albinism, a group of inherited conditions that results in a person having little or no pigment in their eyes, skin or hair. He also started taking photos around the world of people with the condition.


"As an artist, I saw beauty – but it wasn't the traditional standard of beauty," says Guidotti. Still, these pictures had such an impact – both on the subjects of the photos and on those who saw them – that Guidotti gave up fashion to devote himself full time to Positive Exposure, a not-for-profit organization that uses photography and video interviews to challenge the stigma associated with genetic disorders. By showcasing the experiences of people of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are living with genetic, physical and mental health conditions, Guidotti hopes to change the world's perception of genetic disorders, because "once there's a shift in perception, it never shifts back," he explains.


Mimi Blitzer, a professor of Pediatrics, arranged for Guidotti to give a presentation to first- and second-year medical students October 30. "Traditional photographic images and medical stereotypes of people with genetic conditions are sadly negative," Guidotti says. "My lecture at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is to show medical students an alternative to the demoralizing images currently used in many medical text books to illustrate genetic conditions. The presentation of life-affirming photographs and compelling stories provides the opportunity for physicians-in-training to think beyond the point of diagnosis to a positive perspective on the full range of life experiences of people living with genetic conditions."


"First- and second-year medical students see patients in clinical settings as well as in pictures and representations in textbooks and online," says David Mallott, M.D., associate dean for medical education at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "While this is highly informative from a medical and scientific vantage point, it may miss the innate humanity of our patients, especially those who may look different or out of the ordinary. As a fashion photographer, Mr. Guidotti presents a variety of patients with obvious differences as real people. As part of our Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, our students focus on the doctor-patient relationship. This presentation is intended to heighten sensitivity and encourage the students to think about patients in a different light."


To learn more about Positive Exposure, visit them on the Web at www.positiveexposure.org.

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 Children with a variety of genetic disorders are the subjects of Guidotti's photos.

 Students were fascinated by Guidotti's presentation and had many questions for him about his work.

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