once-in-a-lifetime photo shoot for Dayton Children’s patients with acclaimed photographer
“You’re gorgeous!” shouted acclaimed fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, as he snapped photo after photo of Paige Brammer. The shy smile from the 12 year old from Greenville lit up his lens.
It wasn’t your typical photo studio. There were no bright lights or sudden flashes, just the cloud- shrouded sun coming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The models didn’t have to dress up in their scratchy Sunday best, pose stiffly or even sit still. This was a photo shoot, Rick Guidotti style, and it redefined the meaning of the word beauty.
Rick was at Dayton Children’s Hospital hosting a photo shoot for children with genetic, physical or behavioral differences as part of the organization he founded called Positive Exposure. Its goal is to use photography and video to transform public perceptions and create a more inclusive, compassionate world where differences are celebrated.
Rick spent 15 years working with top models for clients such as Yves Saint Laurent, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, but soon grew tired of seeing the same ideal of beauty. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman with albinism at a Manhattan bus stop changed his life. Her pale skin and white hair captured his photographer’s eye and he began a process of discovery – about albinism, about people with genetic differences and about himself. He discovered only images that were sad and dehumanizing on the condition. So he began a mission to change that. “It’s an opportunity for children to be celebrated – not to be seen as a diagnosis, not as a patient, but as people, as the individuals that they are,” said Rick.
Paige wasn’t the only star of the day. Rick spent hours with about a dozen Dayton Children’s patients. These children have genetic, physical or behavioral differences that make it hard for them to get the ‘traditional’ photos that many families take. They may not tolerate flashes well or be able to sit still for long periods of time. They may not feel beautiful. But they are – and Rick’s lens can show them that.
“A lot of people don’t realize what these kids go through a daily basis,” says Chrissi Brammer, Paige’s mom. “Maybe somebody else will see this and realize that they are just like normal children, not any different than anyone else.”
“Rick’s photos can help the world see what I see when I look at Thaddeus - just a beautiful little boy,” said Thaddeus’ mom, Sarah Sapp from Urbana.
“We know these kids are beautiful, their parents know they are gorgeous, now through these photos, the kids will be able to truly see how amazing they are,” says Jessica Saunders, director of Dayton Children’s Center for Child Health and Wellness. “We saw an added spring in their steps after their photo shoots.”
Baird Investments and Dayton Children’s sponsored Rick’s visit as part of the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival presented by Macy’s and organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD). It is the region’s largest film festival with the unique purpose of bringing people together to explore differences and shared humanity. The local event consisted of a presentation to Dayton Children’s medical staff, the photo shoot for Dayton Children’s patients and a screening of Rick’s film On Beauty at the Neon Theatre. All of the film screenings benefit local nonprofit organizations that enhance the lives of people with disabilities.
“To watch them light up, I think that’s the best part of the whole experience,” said Bobby Kozee, dad of Nicholas and Austin from Dayton.
“It takes just two seconds with my sweet boy to lighten my mood, and I think these photos will share some of the joy I feel every day with Max,” said Casey Boston.
“It’s amazing to see these kids come in with their shoulders hunched and their heads down and within seconds of the first photo they are smiling, shoulders squared, heads held high - and they take that pride with them when they leave,” said Rick. “They are going to change the way the world sees them by the way they see themselves.”
For more information, contact: