Terry Richardson continues the ‘witch hunt’ talk with a discussion of ‘respect’

Terry Richardson

Last week we heard new allegations from a former model who claimed to be a Terry Richardson victim. Charlotte Waters came forward to tell her story of Richardson’s systematic, predatory behavior during a photo session. Her story was disturbing, graphic, and the stuff from which nightmares are made. I believe her and hope that some eventual good will come from her going public. I hope Charlotte’s bravery prevents other women from being placed in the same situation. Many of us in the gossip world are aware of Terry’s reputation, but the mainstream fashion world still regards him as simply a photographer who likes to push the envelope.

We also covered Terry’s letter to Page Six where he never really denied doing anything that Charlotte accused him of doing. He did label her account of events as being part of the “witch hunt” that has haunted him on the internet for years. Page Six saw fit to only weave quotes from Terry’s letter into their own text. I’d like to know what his entire letter said. Perhaps Terry sent them a huge missive … or not. Whatever the case, Terry has penned a full column for HuffPo in order to further defend himself. Let’s dive in and then discuss:

Four years ago, I chose to primarily ignore a cycle of Internet gossip and false accusations against me. At that time, I felt that to dignify them with a response was a betrayal of my work and my character. When these allegations resurfaced over the past few months, they seemed especially vicious and distorted, moving outside the realm of critical dialogue and becoming nothing more than an emotionally-charged witch hunt. Enabled and protected by the freewheeling and often times anonymous nature of the Internet, people have become comfortable concocting hate-filled and libelous tales about my professional and personal lives. In writing this, I make a humble attempt at correcting these rumors, because I have come to realize that absent my voice in the conversation, all that remain are the lies.

When I moved to New York in 1990 to take pictures, a lot of my work was a documentation of my life in the East Village; it was gritty, transgressive, and the aesthetic broke with the well-lit, polished fashion images of the time. My first big campaign, shot in 1994, was a provocative picture of a couple embracing in a bar. It was a shocking image for its time and the first instance a photograph of this nature was used in a major fashion advertisement.

Like Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, and so many others before me, sexual imagery has always been a part of my photography. Ten years ago, in 2004, I presented some of this work at a gallery show in New York City, accompanied by a book of the photos. The show was very popular and highly praised. The images depicted sexual situations and explored the beauty, rawness, and humor that sexuality entails. I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases. I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do. I give everyone that I work with enough respect to view them as having ownership of their free will and making their decisions accordingly, and as such, it has been difficult to see myself as a target of revisionist history. Sadly, in the on-going quest for controversy-generated page views, sloppy journalism fueled by sensationalized, malicious, and manipulative recountings of this work has given rise to angry Internet crusades. Well-intentioned or not, they are based on lies. Believing such rumors at face value does a disservice not only to the spirit of artistic endeavor, but most importantly, to the real victims of exploitation and abuse.

People will always have strong opinions about challenging images, and the dichotomy of sex is that it is both the most natural and universal of human behaviors and also one of the most sensitive and divisive. Over the course of my career, I have come to accept that some of my more provocative work courts controversy, and as an artist, I value the discourse that arises from this. I can only hope for this discourse to be informed by fact, so that whether you love my work or hate it, you give it, and me, the benefit of the truth.

[From HuffPo]

That was actually a very eloquent essay. I think Terry is absolutely full of sh-t here, but he definitely thought a lot about how to try and persuade the masses that he is the victim in this situation. He’s not even denying Charlotte Waters’ claims. He doesn’t mention her at all in this column. All he’s saying is that every encounter with his photographed subjects was accompanied by a release form and “respect.” Funny, I didn’t feel like Charlotte thought she was respected at all during her alleged encounter with Terry and his awful, enabling assistant.

Terry Richardson

Photos courtesy of WENN

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73 Responses to “Terry Richardson continues the ‘witch hunt’ talk with a discussion of ‘respect’”

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  1. mimif says:

    Yeah. Your pictures say it all, douchebag.

    • Eva says:


    • kri says:

      I’ll just put this out there from personal experience-this type of predator is SO smart. They know what to say, how to say it, when to say it-they are almost unstoppable. Unless people around them stop being in denial, and stop making excuses for their behavior. In other words, his industry and his famous friends need to stop “helping” him. And I say this with love-please, someone press charges against him, please come forward with what you know. There are people out there who know what he really is. And there are people out there who can stop him. What if this was Jared Leto or Miley’s sister in those pics? I’m not wishing that, I’m just saying.

      • Hiddles forever says:

        “Unless people around them stop being in denial and stop making excuses for their behaviour”

        Well, as you can also see from some of the comments on Scarlett J.’s thread, that is difficult to achieve… Especially the part “stop making excuses for their behaviour”.

  2. Anna says:

    Terry is disgusting, I hope celebs stop working with him now and if they do decide to work with him that there’s a lot of backlash…
    Has anyone else seen the picture circulating of Woody Allen at Terry’s studio? It’s not a controversial photo (in terms of their poses), but it’s the two of the biggest creeps in Hollywood together so it’s kind of popular now haha just thought I’d share

    • Kroll says:

      I never thought about it but theres a facial resemblance between those two creepsters and its not just the ugly glasses.

    • John Wayne Lives says:

      Birds of a feather…
      I’m so glad people are finally starting to speak out!!!

    • Original Lee says:

      Ugh, those two probably sat around and talked about how hard other people make their lives. Can you imagine how their conversation went?

      Terry: “I just don’t think these women understand ART.”
      Woody: “I know! Why can’t I just make movies, you know? Why’s everyone gotta be Dylan this and Soon Yi that?”
      Terry: “For real, I mean, what’s a little sperm between friends? Amiright? It’s all good baby, it’s ART.”
      Woody: “Right there with you, T. You can’t let these women try to hold us down. Don’t let them get to you.”

      There is no amount of money that I would ever accept in exchange for spending time with either of these two creeps.

    • Lawsy says:

      Like Woody Allen, he is ignoring/dismissive of the women leveling accusations. He is trying to stifle their voice, by not even acknowledging their existence, though he claims they were supposedly, ‘collaborative’ partners. What about their truth Terry Richardson? He essentially is saying, I catalogue perversion and if you show up, and sign the release forms you should know what may go down. However, the fact of the matter is, the less subversive and more mainstream and renowned he becomes through his shots of young pop culture icons and young Hollywood, the more young models are less likely to be aware of his 80s/90s porn predilections (if they were even born), which for many young models ‘sent,’ to him by unscrupulous and knowing agencies, were traps and ‘gotcha’ shoots.

      These potential victims should give big thanks to people like Charlotte Waters and Coco Roche who have been sounding the alarm – this latest accusation has gone so wide, that it’s gotten all the attention and forced this creep to do some ‘creepsplainin.’ What may have just been bumps in the road for him previously that he easily shook off, is less so now.

      The next step is getting those agenices to fess up to the fact that they were not open and honest with some of their models when they sent them out to his lair, effectively sending them in blind. Sure maybe they had heard things, but also thought he did legit mainstream stuff that all the magazines published, and thought they fell into that category only to be rudely catalogued as porn bait as soon as they walked in the door by Richardson. I believe he leaves celebrities and girls who he deems as having a significant catalogue or potential in the fashion world alone, for fear it could bite him in the a-s, everyone else is probably fair game. Charlotte looked like an ordinary girl next door, not that tall, pretty much like the artist model she started out as. He saw her as a plain girl who got naked on occasion, so ripe for a c-mshot to the eye.

      Richardson wants to play both sides of the street – he wants mainstream riches, millions, and popularity with the celebrity and fashion crowd, but he also wants to be Mr P+rn King Hipster Underground (‘Look at me! I’m so edgy, this polaroid pic of me getting blown by two 19 yr olds is ART!’)..however something is amiss when you have to cajole your subjects into it (he’s given interviews where he discusses his reluctant young subjects and how he GETS them to give over – which is where the creeptastic tricky part of his whole operation comes in). Of course not every BJ makes it into a coffee table book, so one shudders to think at the file cabinets full of pics of teens & young women who he’s shot and defiled in the ‘name of art,’ that he has no intention of ever using, because the truth is it’s not art, it’s just how he got off that particular day.

      The cajoling/trickery is part of the power dynamic (hey honey shhh it’s okay, YOU hold the camera ) – THAT part is what makes it exciting for him — with these latest accusations, that dynamic might be disappearing as everyone on a wide scale now knows he’s a tricky creep. That’s probably why he’s livid enough to speak out. His good thing is being ruined.

  3. MonicaQ says:

    “I miss the the old Terry” speaks more than any of your words.

  4. lucy2 says:

    The models consented to being photographed. They did not sign a release permitting what he did to them, and he knew who would be too intimidated to say no. He didn’t pull that crap with Beyonce now, did he?

  5. stephy says:

    I have no respect for Hollywood starlits who pose for this vile,gross predator. He probably has no problem taking advantage of young,unknown models. They are just faceless,emotionless objects to him.

  6. Jaded says:

    How dare he even say the word respect in his own defense. Where’s your respect for women Terry? Why do you photograph them in such a degrading manner Terry? Why do you take advantage of young girls who don’t yet have the people smarts to understand they’re being manipulated? I know how easy it is to do. When I was in my early twenties I was approached by a “fashion photographer” to do a shoot for evening dresses. As I was pretty broke at the time it seemed like a good idea. What started as me modelling lovely dresses turned into the EXACT same thing that Terry does – the assistant brings you wine, music is playing, someone offers a toke, then BANG, all of a sudden your dress is unzipped, he’s got his hands up your skirt and his fly down. I didn’t know what to do, when I said I wasn’t into it he got angry, started yelling at me and I did the only thing I could, started to cry. At that point he yelled at me to get out of the studio.

    So I know you Terry, I know your game and it’s evil. I hope this is the beginning of the end for you and your so-called “art”.

    • V4Real says:

      I’m beginning to think that the tea or wine he gives the girls are laced with something.

      Who drinks at a photoshoot?

      • Cecilia says:

        I would be willing to bet there is a whole lotta drinking going on at some photo-shoots. Not all — but some.

      • V4Real says:

        That was more of a rhetorical question and I understand that some people drink on photoshoots. I also know that a lot of models do not like to eat or drink right before theyy take photos because of fear of bloating.

  7. Lark says:

    Terry Richardson is a disgusting, sexual predator and a creep and he gets away with it because he never tries this shit with anyone who isn’t a small time model. However, he also gets away with it because as disgusting as he is nothing he does is illegal (ethically, very disgusting but not illegal). From what I’ve understand, no one has said he got them drunk or threatened their careers (not victim blaming, I think he’s a HUGE asshole and I think the latter part was implied by him) so I don’t really know what the authorities can do here. The only thing that is going to change is if the magazines stop using him and the media companies behind such magazines. Conde Nast needs to try and step in, for example. And I hate that this disgusting creep attempted to compare himself to Helmut Newton….the utter arrogance for someone to do that.

    • Emma says:

      Lark – I think your point is spot on; what Terry is doing is unethical, but it is unfortunately, not illegal. I do wonder though, what the law is around signing a release form and then having things that are not listed on the release (or, not even implied by the wording of the release) happen within the photography session.

      I agree that his statement is quite eloquent, and very likely to appeal to the artsy, left-leaning, Huff Post readers. (I´m one of them, so I´m not shading them!) But, I´d be interested to see the Huff Post run a follow-up article, perhaps written by a lawyer or psychologist who works with vicitms of abuse, carefully parsing his statement and the releases he has people sign.

    • sapphoandgrits says:

      What he’s doing is illegal, it’s just hard to prove. Women who show up at a police station beaten and with their clothes ripped off after a rape rarely see their assailant brought to trial. It’s the reality of a rape culture.

      I would like to see a few civil suits.

  8. aims says:

    That last picture is one of nightmares. Jesus, if you were to look up predators in the dictionary, that picture would be shown. He’s vile.

    • Dani2 says:

      His pictures should come with a trigger warning, I swear. He’s legitimately one of the skeeviest/creepiest looking men I’ve ever seen.

    • Chicagogurl says:

      This! He’s so creepy. Also, is he wearing a cross and Star of David necklace?

    • Nikki L. says:

      He’s totally wearing a Travolta-esque hairpiece.

  9. Frida_K says:

    He and Woody Allen should start a “We’re such victims” club. They can have Roman Polanski as their patron saint. Meetings can deal with issues like “Why are these evil women saying such mean things about us?” and “We’re so innocent that we figured that if we ignored the mean ‘n’ evil women, their mean ‘n’ evil allegations would just disappear” and other like topics.

    Ugh, they both just make me sick. I hope they do get what’s coming to them, especially vile Terry.

  10. Sam says:

    His piece misses the point. Are Terry’s images gross? I’m sure to most people, yeah. But that is besides the point. Charlotte’s essay wasn’t about the grossness of the stuff he did. Plenty of artists do fairly gross stuff in the name of “art.” I get it. The issue is the non-consent. If Charlotte went there knowing what would happen and was down for it, that would be a different issue. The issue here is that Charlotte didn’t know what to expect and TR exploited that vulnerability and power dynamic to rope her into doing things she did not want to do.

    He also plays really fast and loose with terms. He says “I have never threatened anyone.” And technically, he’s right. It is a testament to his influence that he doesn’t NEED to threaten. It’s implied. Models know that if they call him out or refuse to work with him, they can never work again. It’s a hallmark of predators that they know exactly how to get compliance without direct threats or force. And that makes it harder for victims.

    • Erinn says:

      This post is pretty much perfection.

    • littlestar says:

      Exactly!!! Spot on!!! He has power over these unknown models he’s photographing, he knows it, and he ABUSES that power. He completely dodges and skirts around the accusations (which I believe 100% are true) that have been thrown at him this week. He’s scared. He knows that he’s going to lose out on a lot of work because of this. I’m going to be optimistic and think that big fashion companies are going to hear the rumbles of us folk and stop using him.

  11. Kikileith says:

    Who are these assistants by the way? I think we should be naming and shaming them too.

  12. Sullivan says:

    It is well-written. Perhaps a writer-friend penned it for him. Thereoux, maybe?

  13. Sandy says:

    Please, one of the models he did this to has to file a criminal complaint. And then Terry, and his vile assistant, can tell it to the Court!

  14. NewWester says:

    I am not a lawyer but since it seems the victims can’t pursue criminal charges( they signed contracts)are they able to pursue a lawsuit against this man? The only thing that would really hurt a person like Terry R is to go after the one thing they love more than themselves and that is their bank account.

    • sapphoandgrits says:

      They can file a civil suit.

      • Luca26 says:

        Except they can’t really sue because they signed a contract. If they were sent by an agency they could possibly sue them for sending them to an unsafe environment but I think most of these models were freelancers and ‘at will’ employees who don’t have the same work environment rights legally. He is a sick bastard and he knows who he can victimize without consequence.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        They signed contracts saying that they knew the shoots would be provocative and they knew they would be nude. They didn’t agree to be touched, licked, and ejaculated on. That goes way over the line of provocative. Having said that, I don’t know what legal remedies they have. For some I reason, they don’t have federal protection against sexual harassment. Although I think they were sexually assaulted, not just harassed. He’s a very good predator, very careful. This whole thing upsets me so much.

  15. Artemis says:

    The images depicted sexual situations and explored the beauty, rawness, and humor that sexuality entails. I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases. I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do. I give everyone that I work with enough respect to view them as having ownership of their free will and making their decisions accordingly, and as such, it has been difficult to see myself as a target of revisionist history.

    1. Pictures is one thing but asking a models to take out their tampon, licking their body and performing sexual acts with the photographer is highly unusual and I doubt it was stated explicitly in the release form. Such forms are generic and they leave enough to the imagination so that Terry can ask more than is expected as that would fall under the model’s ‘own free will’, which is how they always twist it to cover their ass. Which is why Terry can ask them to perform those acts as there is a power imbalance that implies negative outcomes for the models should they refuse or ‘break contract’. Which is why such forms are bull and it reminds me of escort work which doesn’t involve sex as that would be illegal but most of them do as that falls under ‘doing what you want in the time allocated with your client’.

    2. some girls were barely 18, 19 and impressionable + naïve enough to think that they were doing what’s best for their ‘career’.

    3. Rie Rasmussen was the first model I think to openly put him on blast and she is a successful model. That was in 2010 so who’s revising? People who paid attention knew this 4 years ago, he’s only responding because he’s feeling the heat. Coco Rocha also said she didn’t want to work with him anymore so clearly he’s doing something that oversteps the boundaries of photographer – model. The fact that he oversteps his boundaries with mainly unknown young models says enough.

  16. Dani2 says:

    STFU “Uncle Terry”. You wouldn’t know what respect was even if it kicked you in the balls (which I’d very much like to do myself btw).

    • Putchka says:

      I’ll help and bring a camera, you know, for “artistic integrity”. Man, I despise this cretin.

  17. Bridget says:

    He probably really thinks that because the models never specifically said No, that he isn’t doing anything wrong. That it’s okay that there’s a series imbalance of power between him as the photographer and the models, whom he could easily fire, or as him as a much older, well connected man and very young new models. What he is doing – demanding sexual acts in order to be photographed by him, even if the demand isn’t explicitely uttered – is utterly wrong, and he’s clearly justified it to himself because they don’t speak up, no matter that they’re too intimidated or scared to say ”no”. Disgusting

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      So disgusting. I don’t believe for a second that he doesn’t know they’re just permitting his vile touch because they feel trapped. I just think he couldn’t care less how he makes them feel.

  18. gg says:

    Hey, Terry, put your career where your mouth is. Stop stripping, stop taking denigrating photos of women. If you were a real photog you could make great photos without GOING THERE. And you know exactly where I mean. You really wanna compete with Helmut Newton and be a fashion photographer? No more crotch shots. No more abuse.

  19. nicegirl says:

    He needs to get a Webster’s Dictionary and read up on the definition of RESPECT. Not that it would help.

  20. lisa2 says:

    Amazing how you don’t see anyone tweeting death threats to him. Where are the posters that call women all kinds of names; yet are so silent when it comes to his douche and his friends. hmmm

  21. Jessica says:

    Just because someone signs a release to be photographed nude doesn’t give him the right to sexually assault them.

  22. TheCountess says:

    Can we get an artist’s rendering of this turd to replace actual pictures of him? Even in thumbnail size, I nearly puked at the site of his mug.

  23. cro-girl says:

    Who tries to clear their name by detailing how groundbreaking their art is? All I heard with that was “I’m sorry but I’m facking awesome.”

  24. Jemmens says:

    Alright enough already with the damn thumbs-up crap. I just want to reach through the picture and break that damn thing off!

  25. TOPgirl says:

    He looks like a disgusting man who would totally take advantage of a young girl. He gives me the heeby jeebies!!!

  26. Mikeyangel says:


    Another interesting piece about one of Terry’s good friends Marc Jacobs. A very interesting read.

  27. Ennie says:

    So in the name of art he does this withevery unsuspecting girl that goes to pose for him hoping to make it in her line of work?
    He gets laid or something similar with young girls that he is probably more than twice his age.
    He probably takes the same type of “provocative” pictures ove and over with different subjects? What is he a collector of his own pron?
    What a unimaginative “artist”
    He probably has himself in a very high pedestal where he enjoys the surprised look on his models when he lays out the true nature of his photographic session. (Exhibitionist, and on top of that his “work”, aka pics of him doing pron with his friends and models are praised, 8 just can’t)
    He should just be into the xxx industry, but he loves to be in touch with A listers and the fashion world which is what is providing the willing fresh meat for his next photoshoot.
    What a perv.
    The celebrities that he photographs… And especially his celeb friends… How can they know what a disgusting pig he is and continue to provide him with a reputation of a true artist, how?

  28. Jayna says:

    When you have a blurb on your website that has models, non-famous ones, send in their photos and you hire them to come in for a nude session (for free. Just to get the chance to have him publish them or to be able to say you worked with him), what that is code for is: You get naked and do all kinds of things and have him do things to you and he ejaculates at the end either by a hand job or BJ or intercourse. This has nothing to do with modeling or even exotic nude shots. Most don’t know that walking in. It just moves fast and he has his script down pat and it usually works and many of these “models” end up shell-shocked. He has even tried to get that at times with famous models even though he denies he has ever gotten nude on paid professional gigs.

    He is nothing more than running a service to bring in girls to satisfy him and he gets off on humiliating them, like the model that said it escalated into him telling her to give him a hand job and his assistants were rooting her on, clapping to do it and she ended up doing it with them snapping away photos at the same time.

    Or how about the famous Canadian model who did a shoot for Vogue with him based on some famous politicians wife-swapping. She thought nothing of accepting the job since it is for a legit magazine and photographer, or so she thought. It escalated into him wanting to do more and more provocaivete things and then asked her to take off her clothes and get down on her knees and “pretend” to give one of the men a blow job. These two men in the photoshoot were not models nor actors. She said they were gross friends of his, which was highly unprofessional. She refused and walked out on the shoot. The other model stayed for a while longer. She said she found out they brought in a porn star in place of her and there ended up being a sexual free-for-all with Terry involved also. She was disgusted by the whole thing and to this day is ashamed of any of the shots she did for that shoot.

    He doesn’t like women. He thinks women are to be demeaned, humiliated during sex, with photos being taken of them while it’s going on or other men watching or involved or women. Women are not people to him. They are things. And all these celebs who think he loves them and they are buddies. No. They are his meal ticket to fame and fortune and respect, so has to act accordingly to have respectability. But if he could, he would demean them just like he does the others.

  29. Tippy says:

    Terry Richardson is a morally repugnant predator and everyone knows it.

    Those who continue to associate with
    this low-life need to be concerned with his stench rubbing off on them and the consequences that will eventually come along with it.

  30. lambchops says:

    I read somewhere that perverts/pedophiles/abusers create weird and wacky personas to make others and their victimes think they are just weird and wacky, when they are really sexual deviants. It confuses their victims and makes the public believe they are innocent and misunderstood. This guy is the perfect example with the glasses and his nerdy ‘thumbs up’ meme.

  31. aquarius64 says:

    Now a second statement? The only reason Creepy is doing this is this allegation may hold up in a court of law.

  32. poppy says:

    i posted this before but it is worth repeating:
    a photographer’s release is for the terms of the usage rights of the images. it is all about how and where the images will be used and has nothing to do with the types of images. it means the model agrees to the image(s) being published.
    i have NEVER seen a release that says the photographer will expose himself, lick your @ss, have sex with you, expect you to fell@te him or ejaculate on your face.

    he’s never denied anything before because the sleaze goes along with the image of himself he has carefully cultivated: “i’m so wild and crazy i can get people to do ANYTHING.” he has continually bragged about what he has been able to get people to do for him. the only difference is now he’s more careful about revealing the kinds and amounts of drugs he has them use to get them into that state of “willingness”.

    none of his “ideas” are original. look at henry wessel or larry clark’s pictures and you’ll see TR isn’t even near close to creating his own style.
    he’s a hack photographer and a sorry excuse of a human being.

    more people should sign the change.org petition. please always post the link. it is only at @31k.

  33. Amy says:

    Well you can’t deny that he can write well. That was very carefully worded but it was also very defensive. And while there are a lot of words, he is actually saying very little. He mentions living in a gritty, rough neighborhood of NYC–okay so maybe that experience affects his “provocative” work but what does that have to do with people accusing him of sexual harassment? His work has been praised–so what? Plenty of respectable people who have been praised in the past for their actions have also turned out to be awful human beings. And basically people are trying to target him and bring him down because we are just jealous and want to gossip. What an original, well-used argument.

    If he actually tried to give his side of the story and say “Actually no THIS is what happened with that model” then maybe people would give him the benefit of the doubt. But he is using the “I am a serious artist” to hide the real truth of what he is doing–taking advantage of his subjects. It’s not art Terry. It’s disgusting what you do.

  34. Aurelia says:

    Can’t believe this talentless wanker likens himself to Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton. Dream on pig.