First off: If you haven't already, you may want to head over to Change.org to sign a new petition urging big brands to cut ties with fashion photographer Terry Richardson. (Over 6,000 people have already signed — which is a lot, but well under the organizers' goal of 50,000 signatures.)
Another wave of public outrage has risen up against Terry's professional success, following his high-profile collaboration with Miley Cyrus (another controversial figure) for her very naked "Wrecking Ball" music video.
Many question whether society should dole out its highest rewards (money, power, fame, respect) to a photographer who:
1) Allegedly thinks it's appropriate for his penis to be involved when young models visit his studio, hoping to get a big break in the fashion industry.
2) Built his career with work that's more degrading and disturbing than most pornography. (Here's a very, very NSFW collection of his non-commercial, earlier work: oldterry.tumblr.com — yes, didn't hyperlink that for a reason.)
Apart from gaining some notoriety, Richardson's position in the fashion world has been relatively unchanged since the burst of accusations against him in 2010 (most notably, by Jamie Peck in The Gloss).
He continues to work extensively both for commercial brands (he did H&M's Summer 2013 campaign) and major magazines. He photographed the last four Harper's Bazaar covers, all featuring A-listers (Madonna, Miley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sofia Vergara). And the allegations didn't prevent Oprah, Lena Dunham or Beyonce (all three are vocal champions of women's rights) from posing for Richardson — the photographer even nabbed a shot with feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
The Change.org petition emerged following a Huffington Post Live segment which questioned a group of panelists about Richardson's continued relevance within the fashion industry.
"The reality is, until editors stop using him for covers, until Hollywood stars stop picking him as a photographer or a videographer for their shoots, he'll stay the way [he is]," said Financial Times fashion and luxury correspondent, Elizabeth Paton.
We've reached out to Harper's Bazaar to find out more about why so many companies and brands have maintained their professional relationship with him over the years. We'll report if we hear back.