The embattled titty photographer's spread (no pun intended) in the latest issue of art magazine The Journal is not safe for work. Though it does make one reconsider the word "ladyflower."
In discussing and bringing to light some of the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct made by models against Richardson, I held off from offering any critical assessment of his photography. So what if he often shoots explicit nudes? In principle, his work is of little relevance to the serious accusations made against him. But the association that already exists in the minds of some between smutty pictures and exploitation might encourage people to condemn Richardson for his predilection for taking pictures of teenaged girls' vulvas, rather than for his apparent fondness for touching those girls — or making them touch him — without their permission. From an artistic perspective, there's a difference, and it profits nobody to confuse aesthetic tastes with behavior.
That said, I have two very important questions about the following images: How old is this model? And did she freely consent to both posing like this and having the pictures published? I have no idea who she is; Richardson recruits most of his art models off the Internet.
Earlier this year, I heard from a woman who'd dated Richardson briefly in 2002. They'd met when he asked to shoot her portrait; she obliged, and they took some pictures while she was fully clothed. She wrote:
We saw each other a couple of times before and after that shoot. Going to movies, restaurants, etc...and having sex. Pretty classic for a dating relationship. He was always taking pictures of us while we were having sex. One day, all the crew was there and he asked me to do sex stuff with him in front of them and I said no. He kept trying for the whole night. Once the crew was gone we had sex and in the middle of action, I realised that some of his assistants were looking and taking pictures. I stopped and I told Terry to quit all that stupidity cause it wasn't interesting me.
I understood that he wasn't as honest of a person as he seems to be. I never went back to his live/work studio. [sic]
Nonetheless, two years later, she heard from a friend that explicit pictures of her were included in one of Richardson's exhibitions. "A bunch of anxiety attack started for me," she says. Over a dozen images of her ended up in Richardson's books Kibosh and Terry's World. The model claims she never signed a release, and never consented to the publication of those pictures. So what about the model in these pictures? Did she consent?
Even the guy who made the "I Was Touched By Terry" t-shirts says he knows people who were victimized by Richardson.
But don't you see? He can't possibly be a sexual predator, like Rie Rasmussen and so many others say. Terry Richardson loves vaginas.
A blogger and a former Richardson model contacted the photographer about this shoot. His response? "Get a life." Then he hung up. His feelings were probably really hurt.
Nothing to see here, folks: she's smiling. Like Terry always says, "Everyone has fun on my shoots." Right? Right?