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The Questionnaire : Lynn Goldsmith by Carole Schmitz


Lynn Goldsmith: Rock’n roll or nothing!

Particularly renowned for her iconic portraits of numerous rock stars, Lynn Goldsmith belongs to that generation of photographers who have left their mark on the history of photography.

Her intimate work gives a more personal insight into artists often regarded as untouchable icons. It’s not so much the artist that interests her, but rather the real person, their humor and intelligence. She likes to photograph those who want to be photographed.

Lynn Goldsmith has also had a varied creative career, directing, singing and writing poetry. Under the stage name Will Powers, she collaborated with Todd Rundgren, Tom Bailey, Carly Simon, Nile Rodgers and Sting on a satirical self-help album in 1983.

Her images have graced the covers of magazines the world over, from Life to Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and People, not to mention National Geographic and the New Yorker. She has also published 14 monographs of her photographs, including New Kids (Rizzoli, 1990), selected as a New York Times Bestseller, and most recently “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, a photo book dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, published by Editions Taschen. In this book, Lynn looks back on the time she spent with Springsteen and the E Street band on the Darkness tour in the late 1970s, evoking her memories through the most striking images.

An opportunity to discover or re-discover an artist who is still very much in vogue!


Instagram: lynngoldsmith

Your first photographic trigger ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Watching my father makes pictures and then going in darkroom and seeing them appear in a tray.

The man or woman of image who inspires you?
Lynn Goldsmith : I assume when you say of image you mean photographers ???  There are other artists who have inspired me
but the photographers would include Julia Margaret Cameron , Guy Bourdin, Alfred Stieglitz , Margaret Bourke-White, George Harrell.

The image you would have liked to make?
Lynn Goldsmith : An image of Imogen Cunningham with Twinka by Judy Dater.

The one that moved you the most?
Lynn Goldsmith : I am always moved by images of the down trodden – especially of children.

And the one that made you angry?
Lynn Goldsmith : No image makes me angry.

A key image in your personal pantheon?
Lynn Goldsmith : My digital wet plate of Patti Smith ( cover of Taschen book).

Patti Smith, 1977 © Lynn Goldsmith


A photographic memory from your childhood?
Lynn Goldsmith : Printing  in the darkroom with my father.

With no budget limit, what would be the work you would dream of acquiring?
Lynn Goldsmith : I don’t want to acquire anything – I’m at an age of letting go.

According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
Lynn Goldsmith : A driving desire to show a point a view.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?  

Lynn Goldsmith : There is no perfect image or perfect anything.

The person you would like to photograph?
Lynn Goldsmith : Alive : Taylor Swift  and dead : Mother Teresa.

An indispensable photo book?
Lynn Goldsmith : No photo book is indispensable.

The camera of your childhood?
Lynn Goldsmith : Kodak brownie.

The one you use today?
Lynn Goldsmith : I use a few different ones :  IPhone, Nikons and Leica.

Your favorite drug?
Lynn Goldsmith : Chocolate edibles.

The best way to disconnect for you ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Painting.

What is your relationship with the image ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Learn from it.

Your greatest quality ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Persistence.

Your latest folly?
Lynn Goldsmith : Too much time on social media.

An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Lynn Goldsmith : Betty Boop wet plate and/ or John Lewis wet plate.

Betty Boop  © Lynn Goldsmith                                                                                                                                                                   John Lewis © Lynn Goldsmith


The job you would not have liked to do ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Chef.

Your greatest professional extravagance?
Lynn Goldsmith : Doing my series of self portraits which required putting together sometimes up to 100 images.

The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering?
Lynn Goldsmith : Actually – I would love to discover another planet.

The place you never get tired of ?
Lynn Goldsmith : New York.

Your biggest regret ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Not being kind to some of the people who helped me on my shoots…stress and fear can make one insensitive to the feelings of others.

In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
Lynn Goldsmith : Instagram  – because it’s so easy to post a photo and you can write as much as you or as little as you like.

Color or B&W?
Lynn Goldsmith : They both have a place – it is not one over the other – it is about what works best for what I’m making.

Daylight or artificial light?
Lynn Goldsmith : Same as above — artificial light is actually easier for me – more control  – I can even create the daylight I want others
to believe they see  — but I prefer at this time in my life to just be me with a camera – no lights, no assistants.

Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
Lynn Goldsmith : New York.

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Lynn Goldsmith : Neither – I would ask him or her to create an image that would give me enlightenment when I looked at it.

If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
Lynn Goldsmith : My sister, my husband, Nora Ephron , James Baldwin and Abraham Lincoln.

The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Lynn Goldsmith : An image of the stars – here before and here after  – always here we are only a blip.

What is missing in today’s world?
Lynn Goldsmith : Shared humanity.

If you had to start all over again?
Lynn Goldsmith : I am always starting all over again.

A last word ?
Lynn Goldsmith : Peace.

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