This weekend the controversy surrounding fashion photographer Terry Richardson has bubbled over from whispers to blogs to the newspapers. The story started last week when model turned filmmaker Rie Rasmussen confronted Terry at Paris Fashion Week, accusing him of exploiting the young girls who pose for him – usually naked or in their pants. Rasmussen was upset after photographs of her, shot by Richardson, appeared in his "Terryworld" book that featured compromising images of underage girls.
'I told [Richardson] what you do is completely degrading to women" said Rasmussen "I hope you know you only [bleep] girls because you have a camera, lots of fashion contacts and get your pictures in Vogue. Instead of arguing with me, Terry ran out of the bar. Then the next day, he called my agency and complained I called him names in front of clients in Paris. It was the most cowardly thing I have ever seen.'
Since this time, more models have come forward; including model Jamie Peck, who wrote a feature for The Gloss about her experiences 'I modelled for Terry Richardson when I was 19. And guess what? I felt bad about it. Of all the fine folks I’ve frolicked au naturel for, he’s the only one who’s left me feeling like I needed to take two showers. This man has built his business/pleasure empire on breaking the cardinal rule of asking a young girl you don’t know to come over to your house and hang out naked: don’t be a creep'.
According to Peck, the photographer asked her to call him "Uncle Terry," and took off his clothes during her nude shoot before positioning her to perform a sexual act on him. She recalls 'this is where I zoom out on the situation...I can remember doing this stuff, but even at the time, it was sort of like watching someone else do it, someone who couldn’t possibly be me because I would never touch a creepy photographer’s penis.'
Meanwhile, other girls have since defended Richardson. Model Noot Seear, who worked with him, clothed, on a campaign, said 'Terry's a really cool guy. It's not like he pressures you into doing anything you're not comfortable with.'
Supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw also spoken about working with Richardson (before the controversy broke out) telling Sunday Times Style 'Terry doesn’t force girls to do anything they don’t want to. He puts you in a G-string in a pile of mud because you want to do it. You touch yourself because you want to.'
Meanwhile before any statement had been made by Terry Richardson himself, top style blog Fashionista noted that one of their commenters had pointed out 'He REMOVED all the images from his blog of him grabbing models breasts and posing with his thumb up and a grin next to bare asses. obviously there is some heat there.'
Yesterday, Richardson finally posted the following statement on his blog 'I just want to take a moment to say I’m really hurt by the recent and false allegations of insensitivity and misconduct. I feel fortunate to work with so many extraordinary people each and every day. I’ve always been considerate and respectful of the people I photograph and I view what I do as a real collaboration between myself and the people in front of the camera. To everyone who has embraced and supported me and my work, I am so grateful. Thank you, it means a lot'
Richardson has said in previous interviews 'my rule is that I'd never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do myself. That's how it's got to go this far. At first, I'd just want to do a few nude shots, so I'd take off my clothes, too … I'd even give the camera to the model and get her to shoot me for a while. It's about creating a vibe, getting people relaxed and excited. When that happens you can do anything.'
The blurb for his coffee table book Terryworld, describes him as the man "who took 1970s porn aesthetic and made it fashion chic....pop stars, supermodels, transsexuals, hillbillies, friends, pets and celebrities all do for his lens what they'll do for no other."
Richardson has been incredibly successful within the industry – working for many of the major glossies as well as shooting prestigious campaigns for high street stores and top designer labels.
It will be interesting to see how his photo-shoots are received in the future.