Famed fashion photographer Terry Richardson has shot everyone from Kate Moss to Lady Gaga, with his pictures landing on the covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and many more high-end publications. But his decade-spanning career has been tainted with controversy, not just due to the sexual nature of his work, but the allegations of abuse that have run alongside it.
Many women who have posed for Richardson have shared their accounts of the strange and perverse things he has allegedly made them do, such as one tale of forced oral sex posed as ‘an impromptu shoot’, and there are plenty, plenty more stories where that comes from. Just Google his name and you’ll find a shedload of round-ups by major publications documenting his alleged deviant ways — but despite the industry knowing about all these accusations of predatory acts, he has continued to work with the biggest titles across the world.
This tale of rich-and-powerful-man-getting-away-with-everything seems to be following suit almost identically to the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal: his exploits are widely known about, women have repeatedly spoken out against him and yet nothing has been done to remove him from his position of power. Until now.
In a leaked e-mail acquired by The Daily Telegraph, Condé Nast is said to be breaking all ties with the 52-year-old photographer. According to the report, staff were told that “Condé Nast would like to no longer work with the photographer Terry Richardson” and anything already shot by him but not published should be “killed or substituted with other material”.
So, is this the beginning of Richardson’s downfall? Cutting off his access to a major platform will surely bring him down a peg or too, as well as opening up bigger discussion as to why they feel the need to ban his work. As the Weinstein scandal has shown, it can take one major trigger for abuse victims to finally be heard and believed, and this severance could at last do the same for those who have allegedly suffered at the hands of Terry.
And as for all of the publications that have continually supported and worked with him? They’d better start preparing some pretty grand apology statements now.