Richardson's Response


Over the past couple of years, the controversial photographer Terry Richardson has become an internet-wide metaphor for the exploitation, objectification and sexualisation of women. With his thickly rimmed glasses and receding hairline, he almost looks like the textbook pedophile character we all imagine to be driving around in a white van. His unforgiving, over-exposed photographs are immediately recognisable and continually applauded and commissioned by the fashion world and celebrities alike.

In the letter, he addresses the fact that much of his work features sexual imagery, sometimes with violent undertones, which offends many and propagates a distaste for his work in some from the offset. He then goes on to compare himself to Helmut Newton. Newton used suggestive imagery and references in his work but unlike in Richardson’s, the women pictured are shown to be powerful and dominant with unshaved pubic areas and often decked in opulent clothing. Perhaps it is because Richardson’s photographs adhere more to the seedy ‘heroin chic’ aesthetic, particularly his early work that can be found online with the tag ‘The Old Terry,’ that they are are more likely to offend and to raise doubts about the nature of how they were created.

I do not know whether Richardson is guilty or not: whilst his images are explicit and show women being violently handled and in blatantly sexual poses, he works with many high profile clients and has been doing so for many years. Given the importance of maintaining a clean public image in the media world, I find it unlikely that they would associate themselves with a man who, if the allegations are true, would be considered PR suicide. We are discussing a photographer who has even photographed the president of the United States, after all. Although the internet by it’s very nature is bound to allow for the proliferation of sensationalist accusations, Richardson’s imagery is profoundly explicit and I believe we should be free to question his modus operandi and listen to his responses without prejudice, then evaluate our position based on that, rather than being swayed purely by internet gossip. That being said, I personally won’t be singing ‘Uncle Terry’s’ praises anytime soon

You can read the letter mentioned earlier here 
Read more about Terry Richardson's accusations herehere and here.
All photographs used in this article taken from

Words by Louisa Rogers

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