Reports of abuse on shoots have long swirled around the photographer but only now does a major publisher appear to have banned him from its pages
Kate Upton in a bikini, pulling the bottoms down. A teenage, topless Daisy Lowe kissing her then-boyfriend. Miley Cyrus on a giant wrecking ball, naked but for a pair of Dr Martens. Since the 90s, the photographer Terry Richardson has been known for an almost soft-porn aesthetic, which includes nudity, innuendo and simulated sex acts. With estimated earnings of 44m in2013, Richardson has photographed Barack Obama, taken pictures for Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and GQ, and directed pop videos for Beyonc, as well as Cyrus. He even has a nickname Uncle Terry.
If that sounds creepy, thats because it is. Richardson has been called out by models accusing him of suspect behavior. It seems they have finally been listened to: Cond Nast International, the publishing company that includes Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair in its stable, has stopped its magazines from working with him again, not renewing his contract, according to reports. Aleaked email from James Woodhouse, the executive vice president, reads: Cond Nast would like to no longer work with Terry Richardson.
The question is why would it take so long for these magazines to distance themselves? Unlike Harvey Weinstein, Richardsons activities have long been public. This story dates back to 2010 when Rie Rasmussen called Richardson out, and others soon followed with graphic descriptions of abuse. Jamie Peck told Jezebel an anecdote about Richardson asking her to take out her tampon so he could play with it. In 2014, Charlotte Waters complained of him licking her bottom and asking her to squeeze his testicles on a shoot. Stylist Anna del Gaizo spoke of him pressing his penis into her face in 2008. Richardson hasnt helped himself, remarking in 2007 its not who you know, its who you blow. I dont have a hole in my jeans for nothing.
Why have things changed now? It may, of course, be due to the Weinstein effect. Caryn Franklin, the fashion journalist and diversity campaigner, first wrote about Richardsons behaviour in 2013. She thinks the tipping point comes down to the fact that we have had several very high-profile predators that have been stopped Jimmy Savile, Max Clifford, Rolf Harris and Harvey Weinstein. Like Weinstein, Franklin says Richardson was protected for a long time by other powerful people: I have had people I respect say to me: But hes a very nice person, you simply dont know him. Ive had them suggest that I am trying to damage his career. Richardson has always deniedabuse.
Franklin is joined by models Cameron Russell and Edie Campbell in her crusade to protect young women in the fashion industry. The duo have been vocal on social media this month, sharing stories of abuse on Instagram with the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. Christy Turlington also came out to say the fashion industry is surrounded by predators.
Even before the Richardson news broke, it was announced that New York is introducing the Models Harassment Protection Act, after consultation with the Model Alliance, the organisation led by ex-model Sara Ziff. The intention is that models will now be protected in the photoshoot environment, with brands and magazines liable should harassment occur.
To see this as the death knell of Richardsons career is probably overstating the power of Cond Nast. People who have spoken out havent damaged his career, says Franklin. He has damaged his career I categorically am not concerned with whether he can earn his next million.