Terry Richardson By Marcia Judith Laurent

Terrence “terry” Richardson is a well know fashion photographer with a snapshot aesthetic. He was born in New York, in 1965, but it is in his teen’s years, when he moved to Hollywood, that he began taking pictures. He first began shooting his environment, and then he went on to take professional fashion photography (Terry Richardson). However, after years of practice, he is now considered a professional photographer, but he still has a very amateur behaviour toward his work. However, this aspect of his work is a very important contribution to his professional career.

First of all, Richardson has two different genres. He is well known as a fashion photographer but one could also say that he does documentary photography. These are two different genres because they convey different goals throughout pictures (terryricharson.com). In effect, his professional work, it mostly attended for the fashion market. This type of market uses photography to advertise designers, models and magazines because the pictures that are taken for the fashion market are pictures that enhance the clothes and the jewelleries that designer sale (Asher, 23). In other words, one could say that Richardson’s job, as a fashion photographer, is to glamorize items in a way to make them appealing and saleable. He did do that for many different fashion designers. For instance, he worked for Katherine Hamnett, the house of Gucci, Paul and Joe. As for the pictures he took for magazines, he conveyed this message in the pictures he took for i-D, French, British, and Japanese Vogue magazine (terryrichardson.com).  Therefore each image, Richardson takes, for the fashion market, has to make one desired what is in the picture and go out to buy it.

As for his more personal pictures, they are pictures that demonstrate his environment. They are pictures that are not meant to sell a product in a glamorous way, but more to illustrates how he views his daily life. This gives them a documentary style because many of these images demonstrate a candid moment (Wikipedia. com). They are pictures that demonstrate real on the spot moments. And it is a know fact that Richardson likes that because he often states that he likes taking pictures that are not planed. He likes “organic” type pictures (The making of the 2010 Pirelli Calendar). And one could continually see that pattern in his work. For instance, the photos he takes of his friends, celebrities and his surroundings demonstrate candid moments. They are very dynamic pictures where one could notice that they were taking without warning. Hence, one could say that Terry Richardson has two types of genre he is a fashion photographer while also being a documentary photographer.

To continue, Richardson style of taking pictures is very particular for a professional photographer. His style is a snapshot aesthetic, which makes his work very amateur because this aesthetic is a way of taking simple plain photos with an off-centered framing behind a white wall (Wikipedia.com Snapshot). The snapshot aesthetic gives the pictures an everyone could do it look. And the way he achieves this look is with the equipment he uses. More precisely, Richardson is known for using a Yashica T4 or a Contaxt T5 camera with minimal lighting (Terry Richardson with Yashica T4; What Camera Gear). In other words, he is known for not using professional material, which gives him this aesthetic plus it gave him many negative consequences. For instance, when he was debuting as a professional photographer, he was often monk and not taken seriously because he brought with him, at a photo session, two or more instant cameras and no real professional equipment (Terry Richardson interview #2). People did not have confidence in him because with the equipment he own, he took amateur style pictures where one was able to see red eyes on his models. On another note, what is particular with his pictures and aesthetic is that he made the use of snapshot cameras for professional fashion photography popular (Terry Richardson with Yashica T4). Now many people want him to shoot campaigns for their brans and photograph celebrities because of his style. Thus, his work seems very amateur because of the method he uses, but it made him successful because it worked for him.

Also, one could continue and call his work amateur because of his behaviour. He does not take a lot of precaution for his photo sessions. In effect, he rarely plans his sessions. He normally comes in to set with no concept and he makes it up as he goes to be able to get the desired shoot. He said that he feeds off of his models energy and what they are willing to do, which is the only thing he bases himself on to create a session and get the desired pictures (Terry Richardson interview #1; #2; #3). Furthermore, his pictures often have minimal aspects to them, which demonstrate his lack of involvement in his work. For example, the props and the setting are very minimal or not present at all. He might use one object that relates to the person he is shooting or he might even go as far as asked them to be completely naked for the session. This demonstrates the minimal contribution he brings to his work. As for the setting, he regularly shoots his subject in front of a white wall. hence, the planning, the props and the setting are all aspect that supports the fact that his work is very amateur and that he does not take a lot of precaution towards his pictures.

As for the more technical aspect, of his picture, he does not use a lot of professional material and techniques as said above, but this also relates to the lighting and the creative aspect he brings to his photo sessions. Richardson mostly uses a strait flash on his subjects. One could notice it because their features are often blasted or blurry. Additionally, in his pictures, there are frequently repetitive patters. For instance, his subjects are regularly placed in profile and centered with a close up on them. for example, the cover he did for “Love” magazine with Justin Bieber shows the absence of technique since the signer features are very lighted because of the flash. Furthermore, he is not likely to use photo-shop to enhance or perfection his pictures. as an example, the picture, he took of model Ashley Smith, shows a close up and the absence of touch-up since one could see her blemishes. So Richardson demonstrates in many of his picture his lack of technic and used of professional material.

To continue, Richardson is also well known for his sexual explicit pictures. These are very graphic pictures. They are images where we could see him performing sexual acts with his models and or these are closed up pictures of his genitals or his subject genitals. But when someone is attended to take pictures for him they have to be ready for the unexpected.  They have to be aware that they may be ask to take off their clothes or be place in compromising positions with bizarre props because these are guidelines that are clearly stated on his wed cite and they have to be approved before the photo sessions (terryrichardson.com). But his explicit work is a major part of his career. In effect, he published many books with these types of pictures. For example, in 2000, he came out with a book titled “Feared by Men, Desired by Women”, which is a series of nude snapshot pictures of himself and different models (Terrence ‘terry’ Richardson). moreover, his sexual pictures are a very important part of his career because he takes this type of pictures for his fashion clientele. In 2007, he did a controversial campaign for Tom Ford, “Tom Ford for Men” perfume line. These are images where a perfume bottle is placed between a female’s legs and chest (New Scent-sation).

As for his main concerned when photographing his subjects is that he wants them to be liberated. He wants them to be confortable, and go to a place where they never went before. Therefore, he needs and wants his models to be themselves in front of the camera. This is why he is not concerned about being technical. He does not want to subject his models to traditional norms of photography when he is taking pictures (The making of the 2010 Pirelli Calendar). He is more concerned on making his subjects have fun and be confortable in front of the camera because in his eyes this would make him take a picture that is more sincere and true of his models. Therefore, on his photo sessions, he is very playful with his subjects. Also the reason why he wants them to be confortable is because he does not want to take pictures that people would expect a celebrity to take (Terry Richardson Interview #3). Hence, when he takes a picture, his main concern is how his models are portrayed through his pictures.

As for where he got his inspiration for taking pictures, it was first through the lower east side of New York movement. The underground scene of this city was his inspiration when he was debuting, which made him take pictures of the raw, trashy aspect of people lives. Lucky for him these were the pictures that got the attention of designers that made him have his first professional fashion campaign (Terry Richardson). But one could also say that he got his inspiration from the underground  hipster movement. A movement that rejects societies norm of what is expected of a citizen. In other words, a culture that does not follow the traditional guide lines that are expected. However, this is not only related to Richardson’s work, one could also see this pattern in known Switzerland photographer  Augustin Robetez. Robetez describes his pictures as ” the dream, anxiety and excess of his generation”, which relates to the hipster movement. Furthermore, Robetez style of picture and the messages that he conveys are very similar to Richardson. One could notices similar pattern in both photographers.For instance, both artist show a lack of technic in their pictures, and the same will of not following society norms. More precisely, one could notice the lack of traditional norms of photography in both photographer. Robetez also uses some strait flash on his models, which makes their features blurry such as Richardson. Hence, the mysterious lives of New Yorkers inspired him, which gave him his personal aesthetic.

Terry Richardson

Augustin Robetez

To conclude, Terry Richardson is a well-known controversial photographer who does not use many traditional technics when taking pictures. He focuses on capturing the raw emotions of his subjects with the use of non-expensive material. His pictures are often sexual but for him it is a way of showing the true essence of his subject and to take the pictures to another level. Hence, the reason I choose Terry Richardson is because of his close-up pictures and the way he represent the people in his pictures. The people are edgy and they seem sincere.  Also, he shows that one could take beautiful fashion pictures without the aid of expensive materials and settings.

Additional Links





Asher, Judith. “The fashion photographer; Robert Farber with Donald Goddard.” New york: American Photographic Book Publishing, 1984. Print.

Bob, Buffalo. “What Camera Gear Does Terry Richardson Use?” Who Uses What Camera? 2011. Sat. 22. 2011. Web. http://whouseswhatcamera.com/2011/09/16/what-camera-gear-does-terry-richardson-use/

Camp, Alexa. “New Scent-sation.” Slant Magazine. 2007. Sat. 22. 2011. Web. http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/tag/tom-ford-for-men/

Documentary photography”. Wikipedia. 2011. Sun. 23. 2011. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_photography

Garnett, Daisy. “Sure Shot.” New York: nymag.com. Wed. 20.2011. Web. http://nymag.com/shopping/articles/fallfashion/richardson1.htm

Rubira, Rafael. “2010 Oirelli Calendar by Terry Richardson.” The in famous life. 2010. Wed. 22. 2011. Web.  http://www.theinfamouslife.com/2010/10/2010-pirelli-calendar-by-terry-richardson/

Snapshot aesthetic”. Wikipedia. 2011. Sun. 23. 2011. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapshot_aesthetic

Terry Richardson Interview #1” Cyana Trend. YouTube. 2009. Web. 20. 2011. Video.

Terry Richardson Interview #2 on Luxury and Taste” Cyana Trend. YouTube. 2009. Web. 20. 2011. Video.

Terry Richardson Interview #3 on his snapshot technique” Cyana Trend. YouTube. 2009. Web. 20. 2011. Video.

Terry Richardson.” Showstudio. Sat. 22. 2011. Web. http://showstudio.com/contributor/terry_richardson

Terry Richardson. Tues. 19.2011. http://www


Terry Richardson with Yashica T4”. jwd606. YouTube. 2007. Web. 20. 2011. Video.

Terry Richardson”. Wikipedia. 2011. Wed. 22. 2011. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Richardson

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