Taylor Swift TIME Magazine 2023: Why is she wearing Benjamin Button cat? - the story behind the photo

TIME's 'Person of the Year' photographers, Inez and Vinoodh, shared the story behind Taylor Swift wearing her cat Benjamin Button.
Taylor Swift TIME Magazine 2023: Why is she wearing Benjamin Button cat? - the story behind the photo Taylor Swift TIME Magazine 2023: Why is she wearing Benjamin Button cat? - the story behind the photo
Taylor Swift TIME Magazine 2023: Why is she wearing Benjamin Button cat? - the story behind the photo

Inez and Vinoodh were tasked with photographing Taylor Swift alongside her cat Benjamin Button for TIME's 'Person of the Year' 2023 edition. Following in the footsteps of Angela Merkel, Greta Thunberg, and Queen Elizabeth II, Swift is just the eighth individual woman to feature on the cover and the first musician in history.

For Inez and Vinoodh, this was business as usual, having shot some of the world's most notable celebrities already. But the decision to get Taylor to wear her cat was far from routine.

So who are the photographer duo and what's the story behind the choice to photograph Swift's pet ragdoll, Benjamin Button?

Why is Taylor Swift's wearing Benjamin Button the cat?

Speaking to TIME, Inez van Lamsweerde said the decision to capture Taylor Swift with her cat Benjamin Button was inspired by a photographer from the 70s. She said: "There's a book by photographer Bill Hayward called Cat People from the ‘70s, with journalistic photos of cat lovers and their cats, but it's all entertainers, writers, journalists—some very famous, some not so famous."

Inez decided to gift Swift a vintage copy of the book. "I know she's a major cat lover, and her cats travel with her," she added.

TIME's 'Person of the Year' is ordinarily given to leadership figures and previous covers often depict the subject looking stoic and inspiring. Inez asked Swift if she wanted to replicate the front cover of Cat People which shows a woman and her cat staring down the lens.

"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, Inez told Times.

When asked how the photo would 'embody' Swift's moment as Time's 'Person of the Year', Inez said the photo highlighted the 'glamor', 'power', and 'empathy' of carrying the whole world on her [Swift] shoulders.

She added: "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."

TLDR; we are all Benjamin Button the cat.

Who are Inez and Vinoodh?

Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, known professionally by their first names only, are a Dutch-American duo who specialise in fashion photography. Meeting at the Fashion Academy in Amsterdam, the pair quickly developed a working relationship and went on to shoot campaigns for Chanel, Calvin Klein, and Louis Vuitton under the late Virgil Abloh.

The duo have worked with a star-studded catalogue of musicians from Björk and Lady Gaga to Kanye West, Paul McCartney and Rihanna. Inez and Vinoodh are routinely commissioned by fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and GQ, in which they've snapped the likes of Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez and A$AP Rocky.

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