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INTERVIEW: Christie Goodwin On Photographing Taylor Swift, Touring Experiences, & More!

INTERVIEW: Christie Goodwin On Photographing Taylor Swift, Touring Experiences, & More!

When you think of the live music industry, what kind of roles come to mind? Performers? Backup dancers? The band? Concert photographers should definitely be near the top of your list – they can capture the magic of a moment and immortalize it with the right shot, and it just so happens that Christie Goodwin is one of the most talented photographers out there.

Christie has photographed some of our favorite artists, including everyone from Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran to Celine Dion and Camila Cabello. She’s also given us some of the most iconic photos of Taylor Swift’s Fearless, Speak Now, and Red Tours! With that impressive of a resume, you can surely imagine how much talent she has and how much hard work she’s put in to grow as a creative.

We recently got to ask Christie all about photographing Taylor’s Red Tour, what it’s like to work with music superstars, how she got her start, and more! Keep reading to learn all about her work and career so far, we promise you’ll be blown away.

This interview is part of our Flashbacks & Echoes series, which celebrates the artists, performers, and creatives involved with Taylor Swift’s 2012 Red album! See more posts from the series here.

What do you most remember about the Red Tour?
I remember being truly impressed by the scale of the production, from the very first rehearsal I witnessed. I just love the way Taylor visually tells a story throughout the whole performance, and how various sequences of the show just smoothly transition from one into the other.

Were there certain moments of the show that particularly stood out to you?
The moment Taylor took place at the piano high on a riser at the back of the stage. It was visually my favourite moment, but it was also the most challenging setup to capture. I am pleased with the shot of Taylor playing the piano that she used on the cover of the tour program after I shot those first few shows of the tour. An image of an artist at a piano at a live show is not easy to get right. The scale of the set and Taylor and her piano being lifted in the air didn’t make it any easier. A piano shot can be quite static and visually not very appealing, but I knew the image could have a lot of potential. I aimed to capture Taylor at the right moment when she threw herself back while playing the piano. I got exactly what I aimed for, both the motion and the emotion.

Image Source: Christie Goodwin for Taylor Swift

Which song was your favorite to photograph and why?
Possibly ‘I Almost Do’ because of the intimacy as she sits down on the B-stage and plays the song acoustic. The crowd is close and surrounds Taylor and there is a real sense of intimacy between Taylor and her fans that is beautiful to capture. Whichever artist I photograph, I will always try to capture that interaction if there is an opportunity.

Were there any challenges you faced while photographing the show?
Well, as I mentioned the piano shot was a challenge, but overall, the challenge was the epic scale of the production. Every song there was a lot going on, the decor changed every few songs, and every song the lighting changed to fit the song. In those circumstances, I must be very vigilant that the photos don’t become visually messy, with too much information. I always try to avoid having the set overpower the artist, the photo must be about the artist leading over the background.

One of your Red Tour photos was chosen to be the back cover of Red (Taylor’s Version) and several photos were used inside the booklet as well! What was it like for you when you found out your work would be part of the album packaging?
I felt grateful that Taylor had chosen my work to feature on the new version of the album. It is humbling when an artist appreciates your work, and still appreciates it a decade later. I must admit it felt good that the photos have stood the test of time.

You previously photographed Taylor on the Fearless and Speak Now Tours – was anything different while photographing her on the Red Tour?
There was an evolution in the scale of the productions and Taylor evolved as an artist, but for me personally, every tour has been visually very exciting to shoot. Every tour, every song, there was a story told. I love storytelling in shows, and I love photographing them. I always say my job is to tell the story the artist is delivering through my photos, for those who weren’t there. And for those who were there, I want to capture what they saw and felt during the show. When you have an artist like Taylor who goes all out to tell her stories, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

Image Source: Christie Goodwin for Taylor Swift

Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken of Taylor?
Not so much a favourite photo, more a favourite set of photos. When Taylor performed ‘Should’ve Said No’ on the Fearless Tour under a water curtain. It was such a dynamic scene, her dancing and singing in the rain. I’ve always had a feeling she really enjoyed that scene, challenging as it must have been for her, and I really enjoyed shooting it. I was happy with some of those photos. Which is a very rare thing for me to say, because those who know me know I am incredibly critical of my own work. I haven’t taken the perfect photo yet.

When did you know you wanted to become a photographer? Was there a certain moment when you knew you made it?
As long as I can remember I wanted to be a photographer. My dad was a captain-at-sea and when I was still a child I used to stay with him on board the ship during holidays. He had a camera and of course, I wasn’t allowed to touch it. But already then, I didn’t like being told what to do. So one evening I took it, and after fiddling with it for a bit, I looked through the viewfinder and that is probably the moment it all started. I was mesmerized about the fact that you could condense an entire world into a small frame. I snuck out his camera once in a while after that, and my dad knew he couldn’t stop me. So eventually he gave me one of my own. So no surprise really that I end up studying photography and getting a degree. However, I don’t think I will ever feel as if I have made it, I will always be a work in progress. I think that is typical for any creative.

You’ve photographed all-time legends like Paul McCartney and Celine Dion, as well as modern superstars like Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello! Do you approach your work with newer artists differently than you approach your work with more historically-known artists?
I consciously don’t make a difference because I always approach every individual as a unique subject to discover through my lens. To me, everyone who appears through my lens has no name, no fame, no history. I like to capture them as I see them without prejudice.

Do you have any favorite memories from working with a music superstar?
Usually, my favourite memories are not so much related to the artist but more to the whole ensemble of crew, musicians, dancers, back-up singers… Some tours there is a real fun atmosphere within the touring party and those create really special memories when you are all traveling together. Touring can be physically and mentally extremely exhausting and being on a tour where there is a good vibe makes the difference between a tour you will remember forever or a tour you’d
rather not.

When you’re getting ready to photograph someone new, where do you typically start? Do you research their music, get to know then personally, etc.?
I prefer to know as little as possible when I work with someone new because I avoid approaching a performance or an artist through someone else’s eyes. Whenever I go into a performance, I am at my best when nobody tells me what to shoot and I can capture it truthfully from my perspective. I don’t need to know the artist personally because I am capturing a performance, it doesn’t matter who they are backstage and in their private lives. What interests me is what they bring on stage.

What inspires you the most when you’re shooting?
The creativity of the performer, the story or message they are delivering to their audience, the connection between the performer and the audience.

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You’ve captured jaw-dropping moments for so many of our favorite stars, and we’re sure there are plenty more gorgeous photos to come. Is there anyone you’re hoping to work with soon?
I’ve ticked off most artists that were on my bucket list, the only artist that has escaped my lens, unfortunately, and I would have loved to have worked with is Tina Turner, I regret I have missed that opportunity.

A big part of your artistry is concert photography, which we’re sure Covid had a big impact on. What was it like for you to change gears during the pandemic? Do shoots feel different now than they did pre-Covid?
At first, it was amazing to have all that free time but soon I became restless, so I did keep taking pictures and shot a lot of conceptual photography just to keep my creativity going. I have a little side thing I truly love, which is I shoot covers for crime novels. During those two strange years, I did quite a lot of that. When I finally got to shoot performances again, I admit I was a bit nervous. It felt like it was all new to me and I thought I might have lost my edge, but after a couple of performances, I was back in the swing of things.

In addition to concert photography, you’ve also worked on backstage photos and traditional studio photoshoots. Do you approach different types of shoots with a different mindset?
I prefer to shoot on location, make use of the setting that is available, with the ambient light that is available. Sometimes backstage can be a challenge because of the often poor lighting conditions in dark corridors and cramped dressing rooms, and there is always what I call “clutter” everywhere. Flight cases, cables, catering trolleys… But I thrive on that challenge. I am not too keen shooting in a
studio. I feel like studios and studio lights limit my creativity, it’s just too predictable and too comfortable for me. I need a challenge to do my best work.

Tell us what you’ve been up to more recently and what you have coming up!
I have been very fortunate this year that many of my regular clients were touring again this year and asked me to document a few shows. This year I’ve worked again with Usher, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, Simply Red, Frankie Valli, Joe Bonamassa to name just a few. And I’m also very happy to say I have worked with some amazing artists for the very first time ever this year, people like Alicia Keys, Jeff Beck, Ashley McBryde and Simple Minds. As for what’s coming up, I’ll be working for the first time with Peter Frampton, and there will be more Simply Red shoots. I love that variety. I get bored easily and shooting artists from different genres and generations keeps me on my toes.

We don’t know about you, but we had a ton of fun getting to ask Christie Goodwin about her work! Thank you so much to Christie for sharing your time with us and giving us so much cool info about your incredible photos.

Now we wanna hear from you! What’s your favorite picture Christie has captured? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And for more exclusive interviews, click here.


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