We’ve all heard seen movies and TV shows where a beautiful, young girl gets an exciting opportunity to model, only to find herself in an extremely uncomfortable situation with a predatory older photographer. The sketchy photographer dude is such a easily recognizable figure, he’s almost a cliche. If you had to cast someone in that role, he would probably look something like Terry Richardson. Which is why it may not come as surprise to you to learn that Terry, who has shot everyone from Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” to President Obama, is now facing accusations that he routinely takes advantage of the young girls he photographs.
It began with an article by Jamie Peck for The Gloss in which she described a shoot with Terry when she was 19 that ” left me feeling like I needed to take two showers.” Jamie had modeled nude for Terry once before, and the first shoot had been pretty uneventful, but the second one got off to a strange start:
“I told him I had my period so I wanted to keep my underwear on, and he asked me to take my tampon out for him to play with.
“I love tampons!” he said, in that psychotically upbeat way that temporarily convinces so many girls that what’s fun for Uncle Terry is fun for them.”
After she turned him down on the offer, he decided to get naked:
While Terry posed for her and name-dropped his famous friends, his assistants watched and took their own photos. Then, he requested a hand job:
“This is where I zoom out on the situation. I can remember doing this stuff, but even at the time, it was sort of like watching someone else do it, someone who couldn’t possibly be me because I would never touch a creepy photographer’s penis. The only explanation I can come up with is that he was so darn friendly and happy about it all, and his assistants were so stoked on it as well, that I didn’t want to be the killjoy in the room. My new fake friends would’ve been bummed if I’d said no.
I must have said something about finals, because he told me, “if you make me come, you get an A.” So I did! Pretty fast, I might add. All over my left hand. His assistant handed me a towel.”
Jamie’s payment was supposed to be a signed print, but she was so disturbed afterward she never went back to claim it. Since then there have been a number of mostly anonymous sources popping up with similar stories. There have also been a number of models and other people in the industry that have come to his defense, such as model Noot Seear:
“Terry’s a really cool guy. It’s not like he pressures you into doing anything you’re not comfortable with … Terry is an amazing photographer. All that goes on while shooting is participatory play.”
Just peruse Terry’s past work and you’ll see that he is known for racy photos and apparently has a knack for getting models naked. And it’s very likely that a lot of those models don’t feel bad about that, and had fun working him. But it also goes without saying that many of those models were also very young, naive, and uncomfortable with what was happening, but they knew Richardson was famous photographer and he had a room full of assistants cheering him on, and were clearly manipulated into doing things they normally wouldn’t have. That is the most disturbing thing-that he has a whole crew of people he works with that stand by and support what he does.
Do you buy Richardson and his supporters’ claims that as long as the girls on his sets “agree” to participate in whatever activities go on-whether it’s just taking some racy photos or actually getting him off- or do you think he’s taking advantage of his power and celebrity? Does he need to take personal responsibility to creating an environment that pressures young, intimidated girls into agreeing to things they normally never would?