Terry Richardson stirs up a storm in the fashion world

A relatively mild storm that’s currently lashing about in the fashion world concerns the behaviour of one Terry Richardson, an American-born artiste who became a famous fashion photographer and proceeded to abuse the privilege. If you look at the presumably unbiased reportage in Wikipedia and then read the scathing commentary by the Guardian’s Hadley Freeman (and others), you’re left wondering if this is another one of those passing frenzies, sort of a mob reaction.

According to Mr. Richardson, he’s not an exploiter. He said “. . . That’s not my bag. Everyone has fun on my shoots.” According to askmen.com, he’s a ‘gifted photographer’ and ‘an artist’ – with an admittedly sexist viewpoint when it comes to his models. Sexist as in possibly obsessed with the subject, certainly more than willing to use his fame (or notoriety) to influence/manipulate young women who may not know any better than to follow instructions and bare most of their body parts.

No matter what you think of his style (or lack of it), Richardson has some defining characteristics that have gotten him gigs with a lot fashion’s biggest names. His credits include Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Mui Mui, Levi’s and Hugo Boss but he’s also done spreads for Mercedes Benz, Sports Illustrated and other non-fashion mags – but always with the beautiful girls.

Again, it’s an interesting debate: one the one hand, Hadley states unequivocally that Richardson is no good as a photographer, he’s “boring”. On the other hand, the reviewer from askmen states unequivocally that Richardson “. . .has an eye that’s as trained as well as it is naturally uninhibited,” and calls him “. . . a natural master of photography.” We note that ‘the one hand’ is a woman, and ‘the other hand’ is a man, and we wonder . . . By now the famous photographer is more famous than ever, since notoriety is as good or better than pure talent as far as celebrity photos are concerned, or so it would seem. Richardson has so far absolutely refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing, in fact he seems to be enjoying and encouraging the controversy. And he’s still being hired by the big names. Hey, his picture/book of Lady Gaga made #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Interesting.


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