Photographer proving true beauty lives outside magazine spreads

People with visible genetic conditions, such as albinism, don't often think of themselves as beautiful. But photographer Rick Guidotti does.

"The first kid I photographed walked into my studio so beautiful, Christina's her name, she was just stunning," Guidotti said, though he described her walking in with hunched shoulders. "I lifted up my mirror and held it to her face and I said 'Christina, look at yourself, you're magnificent,' and she exploded with a smile that I swear lit up New York City that day."

The former fashion photographer uses his skills to reveal what was there all along. Guidotti made his name working with models like Cindy Crawford and now works with less famous subjects.

"Cindy Crawford is breathtaking if you've seen her but my Catelyn is breathtaking, my Christina's breathtaking, my Margaret's breathtaking."

Seventeen years ago, Margaret Breed was a shy teen with albinism waiting at a bus stop when Guidotti saw her. That moment changed his life, even though she declined to let him take her picture at the time.

"I never saw anyone who was that stunning, that beautiful," he said. "My initial reaction was I wanted to find more photographs of people like this kid, so I ran to medical textbooks and I was punched in the stomach when I saw these photographs."

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Photograper Rick Guidotti left the world of high fashion photography to focus on showing the beauty of people with genetic conditions.

CBS News

He says the images were negative, lacking any humanity. Guidotti decided to change that. When his photos appeared in Life magazine, it was liberating to other people with genetic conditions, including Margaret who finally agreed to let him photograph her, 15 years after he first spotted her.

"When I first saw the photos that Rick took of me," Breed recalled. "I remember really thinking, 'Oh that's me. That's who I am and that's what that photo is and I look great and it looks alive and vibrant, exactly how I feel.' "

"I'm actually traveling around the world photographing people with genetic conditions," said Guidotti.

Through his nonprofit, Positive Exposure, Guidotti is touching lives and opening eyes everywhere.

"It was the first time I had somebody tell me how beautiful he was," said one mother.

Moments like that are captured in the documentary "On Beauty," which Guidotti will screen for students as part of his anti-bullying program.

"Did you have a moment when you realized you were beautiful," said Sarah, a student, in the documentary.

"I started to really accept myself when I met Rick," she said.

"The only way we're going to understand inclusion and really love the idea of diversity is if we're comfortable with it," said Guidotti.

Comfortable with not looking away -- rather, looking closer.