It's Terry's World
With the recent release of Hong Kong, American fashion/art photographer Terry Richardson is chilling behind the lens of an empire. Since he sprung into the art scene with Hysteric Glamour in 1998, Richardson has inspired, pissed off, and trailblazer his way to prominence, invoking an almost gonzo sense of reflectivity in what many would say is an ongoing run of barrier breaking and fearless photography. Throughout his career Terry has shot a myriad of A-listers from Barack Obama to Bam Margera, and has had his work in many of the top fashion magazines including Vogue and Purple. He has also turned his knack for hyjinx with beautiful women into several published photo books.
What Richardson excels at is not singularly creating an aesthetic image per se, but breaking down his subjects to their least common denominator and capturing their true essence in his frames. Shoots with Richardson generally begin normal enough, but quickly progress to wild and limitless romps directed by whims and impulse, with the photographer himself generally ending up just as exposed as his subjects. As recalled by Jamie Peck, one of his models, “Before I could say "whoa, whoa, whoa!" the dude was wearing only his tattoos”.
This style of self-involvement has general opinions split down the middle. Many amateur photographers view his fearless style and forwardness with some of the hottest women on earth as an approach worthy of reverence. Many women however simply find it creepy and disturbing. Richardson himself though almost surely could not care less about public opinion; he’s built his foundation upon doing whatever he wants, so why would he stop now.
Unlike most artists whom in order to get their break find themselves bending to the will of their industry, Terry simply bent the industry to the will of himself. The raw and sexual advertising of Dov Charny and American Apparel followed in his wake, as well as a whole movement of imagery that blurs the lines between smut and art. The idea that sex sells is nothing new, but Terry takes it a step further. He doesn’t just hint at sexuality, he includes it blatantly.
Richardson’s most recent work, “Hong Kong”, follows “Hysteric Glamour” (1998), “Terryworld” (2004), “Kibosh” (2006) and “Rio Cidade Maravilhosa” (2007). It documents Terry’s 2007 trip to China in what is sure to be a continuation of his usual brand- no holds barred expression.