There are way more questions than answers in the photographs of this artist or, should we say, exhibitionist. To begin with, many people slander his works and these photographs are entitled as pornography, petty amateurish shots or a fetish of a man who likes to shoot himself while fucking whores. Females also take notice of humiliation, perversity of males and discrimination. I would simply like to say that all these statements are a consequence of stupidity and narrow view, therefore, I won’t bother to write about this anymore.
There are a few really interesting aspects in the photographs of Terry Richardson, and they need to be well penetrated as well as understood:
- Realistic emotions and experiences where both model and photographer are pleased
- A beauty of a woman from the perspective of a man, a search of woman’s masculinity
- The irony of humanity
- Power of life, sex and fervency against glamour and haute couture
Pornography is an illusion. It’s a simulated and impersonated moment which doesn’t exist, which is created only to give the edge to the imagination and satisfaction. All the moments Terry Richardson has shot are real, for this reason his photography cannot be named as pornography. Somehow making models relax, enjoy the process and feel themselves is probably the main capability of the photographer. Terry Richardson takes part in photo shoots personally, and he doesn’t hesitate to take off his clothes either, models are able to stand instead of photographer, fantasize and take photos. This is a huge part of his work. This moment is often interpreted as a denial of a relation between model and photographer which was made-up in this century.
In my estimation, this imagery and artist’s philosophy may be related with trends of nudism and naturalism which take increasing importance in our everyday life. In addition, it is interpreted separately from erotica and perversions, emphasizing simplicity, humanity, relaxation and the concept of going back to nature. On the other hand, it’s not difficult to take a notice that Terry plays with symbols of outrage, brutality, irony and lust.
Terry himself claims that people often find his photographs too outrageous and discuss the notions of normality and abnormality. But according to an artist, people taking photos of their mates, hiding them or varnishing over their faces when putting a photo to the Internet are even freakier. Terry Richardson openly declares the things he does and enables an observer to accept the works just as he chooses. When somebody asked a question whether he doesn’t keep this kind of photographs of himself for privacy, Terry became surprised and stated that as a photographer he fixates people and that’s why he can’t come up with any reasons why he can’t fixate himself. He never had an idea to hide his artworks – “<…>a possibility for others to see my works is exactly the reason why I take pictures”.
As art critic Olivier Zahm states, women in Terry Richardson pictures are depicted from the perspective in which men see or at least wish to see them. Photographer also seeks to portray masculinity of a woman. Terry Richardson also portrayed shocking humanity of such models and celebrities as Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Vincent Gallo, Tom Ford, Jay Z, Kanye West, Johnny Knoxville, Karl Lagerfeld, Pharrell Williams and others. In the pictures, they look like completely different persons: laid-back and captured by satisfaction in a unique moment. Small details, for instance, a shot where hair on the breast is visible remind us that it’s impossible to take control over the life, that there’s an elemental and earthbound human being behind the glamorous shot. Honesty is the main element of this photography and it is highly debated, loathed and questioned. However, I believe that this shock and dudgeon is simply a feature of people who are accustomed to reacting hastily to everything that’s even slightly different from what they are used to see whether if these are homosexuals, new subculture or a denuded segment of our everyday life.
I don’t see anything inappropriate if people masturbate while looking at me or my artworks, I am simply happy for that. – T. Richardson
This style, portrayal and presentation distinguishes the photographer from other artists in a whole industry of fashion. His works are highly valued and has a bigger impact and influence comparing to glamour or haute couture photography. Artist cooperates with brands such as Gucci, Sisley, Miu Miu, Chloe, French Vogue, British Vogue, i-D, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar & Purple. The main reason for his success is probably that as a person Terry is just quite wacky. In such dynamic and unpredictable field as the fashion industry which is always in demand of fresh sensations this serves as an important feature, helping to find something catchy, astonishing, outrageous or something to be savored once more.
Photography of Terry Richardson is often linked to his rough childhood, vagabondage, plunging into alcohol and constant downhill, lastly, his struggle from the bottom which led him to a celebrity. Nowadays he can be proud of earning a lot of money and doing what he enjoys the most. More information about this artist may be found here.