Photographer Angelina d’Auguste has always been drawn to “things that are out of the ordinary,” as she describes it. “I gravitate to [subjects] that involve appearances and social issues,” she says, which results in a point of view that sits somewhere between photography, documentary, and fine art. For her senior thesis project at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, d’Auguste wanted to focus on a subject that would “captivate people by showing the unseen.” She had been intrigued by images of Shaun Ross, a model who has albinism, and from there, decided to take a deeper look into a condition not regularly seen or understood.
According to NOAH, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation, approximately one in 18,000 people in the United States has some type of albinism, which is a genetic condition marked by a reduction in melanin production in hair, skin, and eyes, and is present in every racial and ethnic group. Typically, a person with albinism will have vision problems and some variation in their hair or skin color, ranging from stark-white to brown.
Although the people in d’Auguste’s series said they “embraced” having albinism, they also shared with her some of the challenges they’ve faced by being, as one of them put it, “always noticed.” “Most people have never interacted with anyone with albinism,” d’Auguste says. “Unfortunately, it is difficult for [people with albinism] to fit in society, so I wanted to show their distinct, beautiful features in a positive way.” In the above slideshow, she shares images from her project and gives us some insight into her subjects’ lives.