Photographers Reveal Story Behind Taylor Swift’s TIME Person of the Year Covers

Photographer duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have revealed the inspiration behind Taylor Swift’s TIME Person of the Year Cover Image.

Swift was named TIME’s 2023 Person of the Year and Dutch fashion photographers Inez and Vinoodh — known for their work for luxury brands and magazines — were chosen to shoot the pop star for three different magazine covers.

The photographer pair, who shot Swift once before for a 2019 Vogue shoot, captured the singer in the midst of her record-breaking Eras tour and called her “the ideal subject.”

‘Carrying The World on Her Shoulders’

The defining shot of Inez’s and Vinoodh’s three different cover images for TIME magazine features Taylor posing confidently in a black bodysuit and red lipstick, with her cat Benjamin Button draped over her shoulders.

Inez and Vinoodh tell TIME that the captivating snap was inspired by photographer Bill Hayward’s 1970s book Cat People — which features artful shots of entertainers, writers, and other professionals with their pets.

The pictures [in Cat People] are brilliant. It shows very well the relationship that people have with their cats,” Inez tells TIME.

“But at the same time, [shows] the way cats are kind of on their own—they’re a special breed of animal. So I got a vintage copy of it for Taylor because I know she’s a major cat lover, and her cats travel with her.

“And I said, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to do a picture like the one that’s on the cover of that book where the cat’s on the shoulder of the girl.’

“It speaks to a sense of carrying everything on your shoulders but being defiant while doing so. And she agreed and that’s how that picture happened.”

‘The Photo Has Everything’

The photographers say that the image of Taylor with the cat on her shoulders perfectly embodies her cultural power in 2023.

“It really has everything: Her glamor, her power, her sense of empathy of carrying the whole world on her shoulders,” Inez says.

“Because if you do feel like that — she’s so involved in everything, whether it’s getting young people to vote, etc. — she’s always pushing for things that are outside of the music realm.

“I felt that there is something there in her body position that’s very powerful and strong. Her expression and the way she looks has this old Hollywood glamor but underneath, there’s so much power in her stance.

“The way she has Benjamin on her shoulders is kind of like, ‘Yeah, I’m carrying you all’.”

Swift is the first figure from the arts to be named TIME Person of the Year for her success as an entertainer.

The singer was picked from a group of nine finalists that included Barbie, King Charles III, and OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, among others.

Image credits: All photos courtesy of TIME.