Art Streiber on shooting a Taylor Swift concert for the cover of The New York Times Magazine

The September 8 issue of The New York Times Magazine offers an entertaining look at pop culture, from a defense of mega bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey to the most “shockingly popular podcast” and the top pet names in the country. For the cover image, the magazine commissioned Art Streiber to photograph the fans at a Taylor Swift concert last month at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as Swift is the “top-selling digital singles artist of all time,” according to the magazine.

Art’s photo, complete with screaming fans with their hands thrust up in the air to record Swift on their smartphones, is the perfect visual complement to the cover package: “The Wisdom and Whimsy of the Crowd: What Does It Mean to Be Popular Now?” Below, Art talks about how he got the shot, which was promptly picked up by Cover Junkie

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Art Streiber_Taylor Swift concert

Photo by Art Streiber for The New York Times Magazine, September 8, 2013, issue.

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“Photographing Taylor Swift’s August 23rd concert at the Staples Center was intense! And loud,” says Art.

“The stage and security layout were very different from a Justin Bieber show I had photographed in October 2010, and the crowd, while swooning, was definitely less hysterically hormonal than they were at Bieber or at the One Direction show I went to this summer with my daughters.

For the first two songs, I was working at the very front of the stage. Getting the angle I wanted proved to be a challenge, as the pit wasn’t wide enough to allow me to get enough distance between Taylor and her fans. So I talked to Taylor’s publicist about letting me shoot two more songs at the back of the arena after Taylor had been carried to the second stage.

There I had the opportunity to see more fans who were directly facing Taylor, which was great. But I was limited as to how many of them were lit by the reflected light coming from the stage.

Fortunately, I was able to return the following night and photographed the opening three songs from the runway that connects the main stage to the front of the stage. This position allowed me to shoot in three or four directions, including directly across the runway, which is the POV that ended up on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.

In the end, I felt the strongest images told two stories: the fans who love Taylor Swift and all the hands and arms holding up smartphones, recording her, which helps tell the story of the immediacy of social media. I was psyched when the Times picked one of these photos for the cover—and it was an excellent bonus that the cover was featured on Cover Junkie as well!”

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Credits

Arem Duplessis / Design Director
Gail Bichler / Art Director
Kathy Ryan / Director of Photography
Amy Kellner / Photo Editor

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