“I refused to photograph their faces because I was a devoted Rolling Stones fan,” the well-known shutterbug, now 59, remembers. “It would have been a betrayal.”
Goldsmith went on to photograph the Stones as well as almost every other major rock star, as Rock and Roll: Lynn Goldsmith proves. The exhibit of 51 images at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, on display through Jan. 6, was culled from a 300-plus-page book of the same name that hit stores in October. The exhibit and latest coffee-table tome are something of a surprise, given the woman’s confession that she “used to cringe when people called me a rock ’n’ roll photographer.”
“I’m far more interested in having my camera take me to new adventures,” explains Goldsmith, who points out that her work has appeared in National Geographic and Sports Illustrated as well as on covers of albums and issues of Rolling Stone. “Not that I don’t enjoy photographing musicians. I feel a bond with them.”
That connection has yielded such iconic shots as a young Bruce Springsteen frozen in mid-jump during a 1978 concert and a shirtless Sting sporting a crown while stretched out on the floor reading “The Little Prince” in New York City in 1976.
But they aren’t the images Goldsmith lists among her favorites. One of the perfectionist’s few personal favorites in the book is an impromptu shot of a vulnerable-looking Cher in a simple green-knit dress and very little makeup taken on a New York City street in 1989. In the index of thumbnail photos, the flamboyant singer writes, “I was leaving Sonny and not sure I would have any future” at the time.
“It’s not necessarily a flattering picture of her, but it’s a very open and real photograph of her,” Goldsmith says. “It means something to me because of that.