His shots have always bordered on the pornographic, making an artwork of a disconcertingly crude sexuality. Turns out it was not an artistic turn-of-hand that gave them that illusion; not one, but two models have come forward tesitfying to Richardson’s methods that can only be described as abusive. Rie Rasmussen was the first; “He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves,” she told Page Six. “His ‘look’ is girls who appear underage, abused, look like heroin addicts…I don’t understand how anyone works with him.” Her statement is chilling. The power of a photographer over a model is tremendous, and potentially, this kind of thing could happen daily, were it not for our placing faith in the integrity of individual agencies, miders, and the photographers themselves not to abuse it. Never mind the symbolic imagery of older, experienced male penetrating beauty of younger, stunning girl with the phallic symbol of his camera lense, the average model is indeed young and vulnerable, expected to follow commands of the photographer and usually, in order to provoke if not titilate, this involves some sort of “sexiness” in the good name of art.
Well, it got worse. Jamie Peck came forward in support of Rasmussen with an experience that destroys any doubt as to the abusive tendancies Richardson clearly posseses. The shoot she did with him degraded her completely, despite her being experienced with nude shoots. “He’s the only one who’s left me feeling like I needed to take two showers.” What she described makes me feel the same way; “Before I could say “whoa, whoa, whoa!” dude was wearing only his tattoos and waggling the biggest dick I’d ever seen dangerously close to my unclothed person (granted, I hadn’t seen very many yet). “Why don’t you take some pictures of me?” he asked. Um, sure.” Disgusting. This just shows how easy it is in the world of fashion photography for women to be taken advantage of. One only has to think back to the trial of Arnand Jon Alexander, LA designer charged with six counts of sexual assault including rape, to be reminded that fashion is an industry seriously lacking in adequate protection for the women in it. Of course, we should be able to employ minors and shoot campaigns that allude to sex and display nudity. But please, can we keep it clean?