What I learned from Terry Richardson’s Tumblr
Few figures in any industry have as many detractors among their own ranks as Terry Richardson. Still, say what you will about his technical proficiency or his work’s lack of subtlety. Say what you will about his inability to divide business and pleasure. Terry Richardson is a workhorse.
A lot of people claim that if they had his connections, or his level of access, they could make better work. But Terry’s spent his career building a brand (if sticking your thumbs up, blocky glasses and a broad grin can be considered branding), and developing those connections. Maybe the on camera flash/available light thing is easy, but easy or hard he’s slogging it out, day after day.
Look no further than his (obviously NSFW) Tumblr for evidence for his prolific shooting regimen. New posts stream through his “Diary” at a frenetic pace. And not just his commercial shoots, but graffiti’d walls, neon signs, and of course, the latest nubile teen passing through his studio. He photographs celebrities and convenience store workers with equal enthusiasm.
He’s not afraid to post his twee helicopter ride skyline photos, which have nothing to do with his style.
He doesn’t care what others think of his images, he doesn’t care how the subject feels about them. If he thinks it’d be funny or cool for a model to have a sticker on their forehead he does it. On a slow week he went down to the wax museum and took a photo with “Annie Leibovitz”
And in the end, that’s what’s so refreshing about Terry Richardson. Sure, his aesthetic can be easily replicated, and often with more interesting results. And his alleged behavior has come dangerously close to putting him behind bars. But the man lives and works unfiltered, uncensored, and very directly, and this shows in his imagery.
The myth of Terry Richardson is perhaps more compelling than the reality: his father was also an influential New York fashion photographer who undoubtedly opened many doors for his only progeny. But either way his willingness to work and make work is undeniable and admirable and shows what living through your lens is.
Anna Fischer is a New York-based photographer. Her work can be found on her site.