Whether or not you have heard of him, you’ve probably has seen his work. From Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to H&M and American Apparel, his white-background-with-hard-direct-flash-portraits has been the iconic look of the recent times. Pay attention the next time you go shopping, and just realize just how many billboards and ads are shot clean, on a white background, with very little shadow. The Terry Richardson look, then, has defined this generation of fashion photography.
In a month long exposé, I will delve into “Terry’s World,” the craft behind his work, and learn how to shoot models in his style. He is the first mega-pro photographer to be featured, discussed, and analyzed here at iLHP and it’s strangely fitting because people either love or hate him and his work, literally.
Hack or Genius?
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Photographers, professional or amateur but mostly amateur, are highly polarized about his work. To use comedian Bill Burr’s expression, “naysayers with heavy jowls” criticize his point-and-shoot style as amateurish, unsophisticated, or even tacky (classic argument is that “my four-year old niece can do it,” but I’ve yet to see a four your old exhibit at the MET). Throw a question like “Is Terry Richardson any good?” onto an online forum and watch the feces fly like a good ol’ Canon v. Nikon debate. But we’ve all heard this before. Jackson Pollock’s talentless splatter paintings, I.M. Pei’s monstrous Louvre glass pyramids, or even Pablo Picasso’s amateurish cubism. Good art is sure to stir some controversy. Art is supposed to make you feel something.