Terry Richardson: Fashion’s Favorite - and Most Controversial - Photographer

The New York Post very recently published a lengthy piece on recurring topic of discussion: Terry Richardson. According to the Post, "He is the Annie Leibovitz of his generation, having shot every culturally relevant celebrity of the past decade — Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé. He is the man behind Miley Cyrus’ controversial makeover and directed her video for 'Wrecking Ball.' In 2007, he photographed Barack Obama for Vibe."

The articles goes on to note, "His work appears in nearly every major fashion publication, and he has done campaigns for multibillion-dollar luxury brands. He also likes to be called ­'Uncle Terry,' has depicted himself copulating with a sheep, and once embarked on a project called 'Breaking in the Carpet,' photographing himself ejaculating on rugs in random hotel rooms." The Post continues, "But in the fashion industry, Terry Richardson is notorious for years-long, rampant reports of sexually exploiting and abusing his models." And that is just the first paragraph.

The piece sheds light on 18-year old Brit Alice Louise's petition against Richardson, which now boasts upwards of 12,000 signatures. (We spoke to Alice Louis a few weeks ago about Richardson and the petition). It also outlines quite a bit of the not-so-favorable reports Richardson has received over the past few years, which range from sexual harassment claims from amateur models to Bruce Willis’ and Demi Moore’s daughter Scout, who tweeted in November 2012: “Last night Terry Richardson tried to finger me. I didn’t let him, obviously. But I did let him photograph me topless in the bathroom.”

The Post sums up the mind-boggling aspect of this situation. Very few people will speak on the record about Richardson, and despite knowing “full well Richardson’s predatory behavior, [he’s] tolerated," even welcomed, by the vast majority of the industry.

The publication continues, "It’s also hard to reconcile the complicit endorsement of celebrities whose public images stand in opposition to all Richardson represents: Madonna, who ­recently told Harper’s Bazaar that she’d been raped when she first came to New York, was shot by Richardson for that very issue. Lena Dunham, self-styled feminist, was shot in her underwear by Richardson; Richardson also dates Dunham’s friend Audrey Gelman, the press secretary for comptroller Scott Stringer. (Dunham and Gelman would not comment for this article.) ... Since these allegations have surfaced, Richardson has given almost no interviews. In 2012, he told The New York Times that reports of his exploitative behavior were 'hurtful.'”

One of the most troubling elements? Richardson initially appeared completely unfazed. As of Friday, he was still soliciting amateur models on his site: "If you are 18 or older, male or female, and wish to pose nude or topless for an upcoming project, please contact.”

He has since released a lengthy statement, calling the claims “false,” “hate-filled and libelous tales" that amount to a "witch hunt."

Anti-Terry Sentiments

As for those who are not on board with the anti-Terry sentiments, some have spoken out. Pink-haired model Charlotte Free took to her Tumblr account early this year to share this message:

Terry likes to do sexy stuff, that’s his shit. If you don’t wanna be part of it, make it clear in the beginning. Don’t willingly blow the man and get all mad and ashamed later…I hate when girls say 'but he asked me to.' You should have said no then, stupid bitch! There’s plenty of other girls waiting in line, so he’s not forcing you to do shit. When you make a choice you have to live with it — unless someone got you fucked up against your will.

She has since deleted that statement, replacing it with the following: "I don’t even believe the accusations against terry…. And if they are true, I still stand by what I said. I shouldn’t have used such offensive language...I’m sick of people making stuff up about him, and even if it was true, I still have Terry’s back no matter what."

Model, Amanda Moore, who is signed with IMG Models Worldwide, shared her thoughts on the matter via The Model Allicance's Facebook page, saying: "I have worked with Terry many times and never had a problem with him.. However, there were many others that I can not say the same for. I dislike the fact that this particular photographer is being singled out. This seems like a witch hunt. I am no longer working in this industry so I have no reason to defend but I will say I hope there is proof and witness to this because this man has worked really hard to build his career and reputation."

Last but not least, The Model Alliance, posted the following message to its Facebook followers regarding Richardson: "You can contact support@modelalliance.org to report inappropriate conduct and get free and discreet assistance."

For a look at why Terry Richardson Will Continue to Work in Fashion, you can find that here