March 26th, 2014

How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

Now that another model has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against photographer Terry Richardson, his clients face a difficult question: What ethical obligations, if any, do they have to take a stand?

Over the past several years, reports have periodically flared up that Richardson has manipulated some models to engage with him in unwanted sexual contact during photo shoots at his studio. The models have described the incidents as casting couch situations that occurred when they were students or aspiring models, not established models working on set for ad campaigns or editorial shoots.

The allegations surfaced again in recent weeks after former model Charlotte Waters published a graphic account of a shoot with Richardson that spiraled out of her control. “I was completely a sex puppet,” she recounted anonymously in a post on a Reddit thread. The post has since been removed, but after her story was widely circulated, Waters identified herself as the author.

She has spoken to New York City police, according to, but she reportedly never said “no” to Richardson’s advances, and she isn’t pressing any charges.

In the hot seat of bad publicity once again, Richardson issued an angry denial to all the allegations in a letter to the Huffington Post, calling them “hate filled, libelous tales.” In the letter, he painted himself as the victim of a “witch hunt.”

Richardson says in the letter, “I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work.” Overlooking the disparity in power between himself and the models, he adds, “I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do.” (more…)

December 29th, 2010

You Thought Condé Nast Was Only Cheap to Photographers?

© Vogue/Photo by Mikael Jansson

Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend told staff at the publishing company last week that its magazine business is doing well despite the recession, and ends 2010 with 3,000 more ad pages than its competitors. Townsend announced the success in his year-end memo to staff, according to MediaWeek.

Photographers who shoot for Condé Nast publications–those who don’t have lucrative contracts with the publisher, that is—know that the company hasn’t shared these economic windfalls with its contributors. Their day rates are low, their contracts demand extensive re-use of images and they don’t want to pay extra for additional content created for their iPad editions.  But photographers aren’t the only ones who sacrifice payment in exchange for the exposure they hope to get from having their names in the pages of Vogue, Glamour, Architectural Digest or Conde Nast Traveler. Fashion models help Condé Nast by working for far less than they could make in non-editorial work.

Buried among the documents filed in the lawsuit brought against the modeling agency Next by three of its former models is an earnings statement that shows how little Vogue and Vogue Paris pays fashion models  – and how long they take to pay.

Models Anna Jagodzinska, Anna Cywinska and Karmen Pedaru allege that Next stole earnings from them and, since they left the agency in April, has failed to pay them money they were owed by clients with outstanding bills. As evidence, lawyer filed Jagodzinska’s account statement at Next, dated April 23, 2010.