“Katy Perry and Taylor Swift have this vision they want to bring to their fans and you just have to take a ride on that vision. They will not go out there and deliver to their fans unless it’s one hundred percent right.”
What’s the work environment like on the road with artists like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift?
I have worked with bands that are just starting out, right up to the Katy Perrys and the one big reason they are at the top of their game is how they work. Before a tour starts, they will rehearse for weeks on end, beginning early in the afternoon working on sometimes until early the next morning. And that’s on top of their other obligations.
I always get a bit defensive when people presume Katy Perry parties hard because actually it’s nothing like that. At that level it’s impossible. People think the same about One Direction but it’s quite the opposite, they work very very hard. You wouldn’t believe it. That’s why these people are all on top of their game. As their tour photographer, my schedule can be tough but I would not want to trade places.
How much control do these artists have over the whole operation?
Of course they have teams to help out with different things like set design, costume, hair and such, but the creative vision is pretty much theirs. They don’t have people who do all the thinking for them, they are the creative genius and they employ amazing people who can help make it happen.
Katy Perry and Taylor Swift have this vision they want to bring to their fans and you just have to take a ride on that vision. They don’t settle for anything less than perfection. They will not go out there and deliver to their fans unless it’s one hundred percent right.
How do the people around them respond to this work ethic?
I think they are inspired by this constant desire for perfection but I also think artists like that feel a huge responsibility. They are employing a lot of people and want the tour to do well, not just for them, but for the whole production crew too. And if your boss treats you well, you go the extra mile. Or the extra hour.
Would you say you have a similar work ethic in terms of always striving to achieve perfection?
Yes and I think that’s why I work well with these artists because I understand them. I always think I can do better so I push myself further. You have to, especially as a woman because for every one of you, there are ten men wanting to do your job. You have to be really really good to stay in the game.
I think people like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry inspire me to push myself further. When I work for them I have a hunger to produce the best because they expect it from me and I want to deliver.
How much creative freedom do you have with these artists?
I’m usually there a week before the tour starts so I can shoot the final rehearsals. It gives me a chance to get to know the show and figure out the best angles to shoot from. My job will be to get tons of material in the first couple of weeks of the tour for the tour book, new merchandise, promo material and so on, so it helps if I understand the production. I’m very lucky that they give me ‘carte blanche.’ Taylor Swift’s manager once said that I “see things that we didn’t even know were there.” So they don’t want to restrict me, they just let me do my thing and if I need anything, I just have to ask. Katy’s people even built me a small platform for one of the shows so I’d have a better angle for one particular shot.
What attracts you to working with an artist?
I like big productions with a lot of costume changes and different things happening so I’m kept on my toes. I enjoy a challenge! Also, I like to have creative freedom. I don’t want to shoot with artists who put restrictions on what I can shoot.
What would you attribute your success so far to?
I am always chasing beauty and I constantly strive to do better. Lastly, I’m not afraid to work hard. I sometimes hear young people talk and they expect to be somewhere quickly without putting in the work but you have to put in the hours. As a photographer, you should never be too happy with what you shoot, always try to do better and challenge yourself.