BY DAISY GARNETT
Terry Richardson is a 36-year-old with a handlebar mustache, long
sideburns, and a collection of odd tattoos, including one on his
belly that says "T-bone" and one on his heart that reads
"SSA". He's tall and a bit bandy, and he's likely to be
wearing faded jeans, Converse sneakers, and giant, slightly tinted
aviator glasses. He's seventies-looking, not in a retro hipster
way but in a Starsky & Hutch way, with a touch of Burt Reynolds
thrown in for good measure. He's charismatic and famously attractive
to women, despite his somewhat cartoonish demeanor. And much of
the time, he carries a small snapshot camera with him, just like
one you might take on holiday to record your adventures, which is
more or less what he does for a living.
While most fashion photographers travel with a phalanx of good-looking
young assistants wielding lights and oversized lenses, tripods,
film bags, and reflectors, Richardson arrives on location with a
couple of instant cameras, one in each hand, and nothing else. He
doesn't design the lighting, doesn't plan his shoots, forgoes Polaroids,
and never choreographs poses. He likes to work with little fuss
and no entourage. And yet, in the last few years he has shot campaigns
for Evian, Eres, H&M, Tommy
Hilfiger, Anna Molinari, A|X,
Sisley, and now one of the biggest scores in the fashion worldthe
fall campaign for Gucci.
"You know how cameras are supposed to symbolize sexual power?"
asks the creative director Nikko Amandonico, who has worked with
Richardson since 1998 on the Sisley campaigns. "Well, Terry is a
big man with a tiny camera. He looks funny. He makes jokes with
his camera, and that's how he gets the shots."
Richardson has wielded his point-and-shoot on Faye Dunaway, Catherine
Deneuve, Sharon Stone, the Spice Girls, and a great many famous
models. His work has been exhibited in galleries in London, Paris,
and New York, and he has been published in magazines as varied as
French Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, i-D, Vibe,
The Face, and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
"At the beginning," Richardson says, "people laughed at me because
I was using snappies. Sometimes, a celebrity would look at my camera
and go, 'Oh, I've got one of those.' I'd feel like handing it to
them and saying, 'Well, you take the pictures then.' But I like
using snapshot cameras because they're idiot-proof. I have bad eyesight,
and I'm no good at focusing big cameras.
"Anyway," he continues, becoming more animated, "you can't give
your photograph soul with technique. I want my photos to be fresh
and urgent. A good photograph should be a call to arms. It should
say, 'Fucking now. The time is ripe. Come on.' "
These days Richardson is enjoying what many in the fashion world
call a moment. Designers and stylists are entranced by the way he
gives a glossy fashion spread a palpableand somewhat coarsesexual
punch. "He's a modern Helmut Newton," raves Emmanuelle Alt, the
fashion director of French Vogue.
"We'd run the gamut of slick, finished photography," says Douglas
Lloyd, the art director behind the Gucci campaigns, about the decision
to use Richardson. "We wanted a rawer energy and more sex appeal,
and that's what you find in Terry's work."
"Terry is very much about sex," says Gucci designer Tom Ford,
"but what I love about his work is that his pictures jump off the
page at you." In fact, Richardson has already been confirmed as
the photographer of choice to shoot the next go-round for Gucci,
which will feature Ford's spring 2002 collection.
This is what happened the day in June when Richardson received
He spent the morning in his studio on the Bowerya long space
with a white shag pile carpet at one end, a workstation at the other,
and a full-length mirror in betweencatching up on phone calls
and editing prints with his associate, Seth Goldfarb. Benedikt Taschen,
the iconoclastic art-book publisher, was in touch about the possibility
of doing a book. Harper's Bazaar called about booking him
to shoot a fashion story for Glenda Bailey's first official issue.
Then Tom Ford called.
In the afternoon, a band named the Centuries came over to the loft.
They were wearing gold and silver lamé outfits, and Richardson photographed
them as part of a series he is doing for the French magazine Self
Service. The early part of the evening he spent with Lenny Kravitz,
discussing the next day's shoot, when Richardson would photograph
Kravitz for his new record cover. Then he went to Sophie Dahl's
rooftop party. At the party, a young stylist asked him if he was
the son of Bob Richardson, the renowned sixties-era fashion photographer.
"Yep," Richardson said, biting into a piece of mozzarella, "son
"How is Bob?" asked the stylist. "He's well," said Terry, enjoying
his supper. "Still working. Still wakes up with a hard-on every
day. Pretty good for 74 years old." He demonstrated what he meant
with a breadstick, took a snapshot of someone with his Contax, then
told a story about a curious wet dream he had had only the night
Two days later, I watched as he packed his cameras and his suitcase
for a trip to Paris, where he would visit his girlfriend, Camille
Bidault-Waddington (a stylist who was named one of the world's most
fashionable women by Harper's Bazaar), and shoot his next
project, a couture story for French Vogue, with the model
Angela Lindvall. Not too shabby, I remarked. "I know," he said,
grinning. "I'll be like, 'Hello. Hello! Only me. Bonjour!'
"I don't think Terry can believe his luck," says the British stylist
Cathy Kasterine. "A lot of photographers become frustrated once
they've shot a few big campaigns and done their fair share of fashion
stories. They don't know what to say about fashion anymore. But
not Terry. Every photograph for him is an adventure." She starts
"Sorry," she says, "I was just thinking of how he looked when we
first worked together. It was during his American-professor phase;
he was wearing huge corduroy trousers and an English tweed jacket.
This was in the bowels of Florida, at a nudist camp, where we were
shooting an accessories story for Nova magazine. But that's
Terry. He makes you laugh; his photographs make you laugh."
Still, much of the work Richardson is famous for is provocative
and confrontational: a close-up of Richardson performing cunnilingus;
a nude portrait of a bruised young woman crying on his bed; a close-up
crotch shot of a woman wearing pink polyester underpants. One of
his early assignments, a startling advertising campaign for the
British designer Katherine Hamnett, captured a young woman staring
at the camera with a frank, unashamed look. Her legs are open, showing
a profusion of pubic hair. The photographs, after causing a stir
in Britain, where they were published, provided Richardson with
his first big break and foreshadowed the controversial "kiddie porn"
Calvin Klein campaign.