Fashion photographer Terry Richardson broke his interview fast this week to talk to The New York Times about everything from his photographic style to his reputation as a skeezeball who wants to get naked with everyone. And to hear him tell it, lots of the stories people have told about his erratic and hyper-sexual behavior are fictional accounts that overstate who he is and what he does when he’s working.
Richardson, who no one can deny is a successful and prolific contributor to the fashion world, has been accused of some pretty unprofessional behavior when he’s behind the lens. The Times story points out that a variety of people (from model Coco Rocha, who worked with him once and said she’d never work with him again, to writer Jamie Peck, who said he asked her to take naked photos of him), have spoken out about how uncomfortable working with Richardson can be — and the highly sexual nature of some of his photos has done nothing to dispel the idea that that’s his mode of working.
Things got even worse in March 2010 when Peck and model Ria Rasmussen both spoke up about their past experiences with Richardson. (Rocha’s comments came just a few months later.) Richardson responded to those allegations in a statement saying that he had “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.” But years later, he says he’s had to learn to ignore what people say.
“Of course it was hurtful,” he said. “Yes, I was upset. It’s not nice for all these people to make up stuff about you. The flip side is, I just stopped reading it and I kept working.”
Mr. Richardson … said that while he may take his clothes off when working on personal projects like “Terryworld,” he stays clothed while taking commercial and magazine shots. “It’s not like I’m doing a professional shoot and it’s like, ‘Excuse me, do you mind if I get naked when I take pictures because this is how I like to work,’ ” he said. “I’m not a nudist.”
Richardson declined to comment on many of the allegations in particular, and the story acknowledges a sort of sea change in the kind of work he’s doing. He recently exhibited a series of landscape photography and his coffee table book on Lady Gaga was created with the goal of making “something that would get in Walmart,” according to its publisher Taschen.
So does this mean that Richardson is reforming? Only time will tell. But even if he stops doing the kinds of things people have accused him of doing in the past, it won’t erase the memory of some of the more horrific stories models have told about his behavior. And saying that Peck, Rasmussen and the rest “made up” their stories certainly won’t do his reputation any favors. Take in the rest of his Times profile here.