Is photographer Terry Richardson really just exploiting women?

Terry Richardson Credit: Getty
Terry Richardson
Credit: Getty

Terry Richardson has found himself at the centre of a new media furor. No, it’s not surrounding a new set of Miley Cyrus images. Instead, he is the subject of a petition urging brands and major magazines to boycott the photographer.

Alice Ehrenfried launched a petition on Change.org just over a week ago titled “Vogue, H&M, Mango, Supreme, & all other brands: Stop using alleged sex offender Terry Richardson as your photographer.”

Penning strong words on the site, Ehrenfried’s aims are even stronger, as she appeals for 50,000 signatures. While the hefty figure seems ambitious, now that the campaign is en route to viral status with 6,000 signatures already collected, reaching the goal doesn’t seem out of the question.

The magazines still seem to love him, but clearly not everyone is OK with Richardson’s exploitative take.

“It’s very important that degrading images are not considered ‘the norm’ and that sexual predators are not glorified in the fashion industry,” Ehrenfried, who works as a jewelry designer, tells us in an interview. Counting herself as a feminist, she questioned, “How can respectable brands possibly condone his behavior?”

Ehrenfried launched the campaign on the back of a “build up of things [I’ve] seen.”

For years, Richardson’s sordid photos and scandalous on-shoot behavior have caused much uproar both in and out of the industry. Former model Jamie Peck revealed her disturbing experience with the photographer to The Gloss, alleging that mid-shoot, he asked to play with her tampon, and insisted he be addressed as Uncle Terry.

Since Peck’s comment in 2010, others have come forward telling of equally alarming experiences. Yet the photographer remains one of the most in-demand in the industry, shooting editorials for the likes of H&M, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue and Aldo, who tapped the photographer to shoot its Fall/Winter ’13 campaign.

We know sex appeal sells, but surely, there’s a line? It doesn’t take much Googling to stumble across a particularly explicit Tumblr account, Old Terry, which depicts candid snapshots from his various ’90s-era shoots, yet reads like a diary of eye-damagingly graphic, highly tasteless porn. Granted, the shots haven’t been published under his name exactly, but he’s visibly “involved.” We’re well aware creatives tend to play with convention and experiment in pastures outside of their day jobs for the sake of their art, but after scarring our retinas on Tumblr, we’re not sure how innocent we can assume the rest of his editorials to be.

And about those Miley shots? Richardson couldn’t be reached for comment.


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