Last year, the so-called “powerhouse photographers”, both Mario Testino and Bruce Weber were investigated as several allegations surfaced of sexual harassment leading many media companies, the likes of which including Condè Nast to sever ties with the pair.
2017 saw the rise in profile of sexual harassment cases and so it became a major topic of discussion, and it seems as if the debate and outing of those guilty parties is set to continue into this year. This could be seen at this year’s event, the Golden Globes, where the movement of “Times Up” was out in force to show solidarity and unification to those women who have experienced sexual harassment. As already mentioned, the investigation into Mario Testino and Bruce Weber goes back to late last year and we are only just beginning to learn more about it now. But, in these cases, the harassment allegations are not centred solely on women, when, in actual fact it is at least 15 current and former male models and 13 male assistants who have accused the photographers of a pattern of coercive and suggestive sexual behavior. The allegations have been denied by both parties.
Bruce Weber’s words to that effect were that he “had never touched the models inappropriately” and called the allegations “untrue” both statements of which appeared in a New York Times article. The same is not so true for Mario Testino who has had to draft in a law firm to challenge his accusers’ “character and credibility.”
Not For Hire
Whether the allegations are true or not remains to be seen but the fact that they have been made has certainly affected the prestige and employability of the two photographers, with Condè Nast’s Creative Director, Anna Wintour, and Chief Executive, Bob Sauerberg, releasing a joint statement saying: “ In light of these allegations, we will not be commissioning any new work with Bruce Weber and Mario Testino for the foreseeable future.” As we reported on this blog last year, this follows not so long after Condè Nast also banned Terry Richardson from their publishing powerhouse for similar reasons.
Wintour continued to expound on her statements saying the following:
“Even as we stand with victims of abuse and misconduct, we must also hold a mirror up to ourselves– and ask if we are doing our utmost to protect those we work with so that unacceptable conduct never happens on our watch. Sometimes that means addressing the fact that such behavior can occur close to home. Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.”
With the “Times Up” and #MeToo movements gaining traction and exposure as of last year one has to wonder what this spells for coming years in the foreseeable future, for both photographers and the industry of fashion alike, as well as other creative communities that are facing various sweeping changes. One would hope that the discussion and outing of sexual predators will make those in such industries more accountable and lead to a sense of unification amongst peers in said industries. The responsibility falls on everyone from within their own communities, whether that be on or off the set or stage, and that it starts with each and every one of us, not just the big names in the industry. We must ensure that we promote a safe and healthy environment for those we work with.
This blog post originally appeared on www.photographybymatthewjames.com