|Born||Aug. 14, 1965|
Terry Richardson is among the most well-known and high-profile fashion photographers in the United States. The controversial and sexually explicit nature of his work has made him a lightning rod for critics, especially among female fashion models, but his style has also earned him fame and international recognition as a serious artist.
Son of a Photographer
Terry Richardson was born in 1965 in New York City to fashion photographer Bob Richardson. The elder Richardson struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. He moved his family to Hollywood, California, which is where Terry Richardson grew up and attended high school.
Bob Richardson also achieved considerable success and notoriety as a fashion photographer, earning up to $15,000 for a single image. Even so, his illness and drug problems eventually landed him on the streets of San Francisco where he lived as a homeless man. He died in 2005.
Struggling to Fit In
Being raised by a troubled parent caused Terry Richardson to struggle socially in high school. He has been described as a student who was “completely socially inept.” He played bass guitar in a locally popular punk rock band, but also started to learn photography while in high school. Working with his father helped him develop his skills and make inroads with high-paying clients.
His unique skills as a photographer would prove to be his key to a lucrative income. Richardson quickly made a name for himself in the high-end fashion industry. He landed top assignments for A-List fashion clients, such as Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent, while also working for top magazines, including Rolling Stone, GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue.
Richardson has an extremely notorious reputation as a photographer who takes great liberties with young and beautiful female models. He has been often accused of manipulating young women to take off their clothing to perform lewd acts, and to strike sexually charged poses that are shocking and raunchy.
Richardson has been implicated by a number of prominent models as a man who “touches inappropriately” and who manipulates his subjects — using his power, reputation and assistants — to exploit his subjects both for his personal satisfaction and desire to produce artistic images that shock.
Many have described Richardson as a “sex addict” and drug abuser, but many also praise his photography as “striking art” that one “cannot turn away from.” Whatever his methods or lack of moral restraint, most agree that Richardson is a photographer of significant talent who can be considered a serious artist.
Richardson himself denies that he “exploits” and says that most of his subjects, “like to work with me and enjoy my shoots.”
In High Demand
Whatever his reputation, Terry Richardson remains a photographer in high demand among elite entertainers, fashion moguls and other powerful people. In addition to Lady Gaga, he has recently completed sessions with Miley Cryus, Will Ferrell, Megan Fox and NBA star Kobe Bryant. He photographed Barack Obama in 2007 when he was then Senator Obama of Illinois.
Today, Terry Richardson remains at the forefront of the fashion photography scene at the age of 48. In addition to his work in fashion, Richardson has published books of his work, including Terryworld and Kibosh. He was married to model Nikki Uberti, butthey divorced in 1999 after three years of marriage.