I’ve been looking forward to recreate Reputation for awhile now. The newer Swift fans are either ALL IN on this album or absolutely hate it. The older fans from the beginning understand this era and its necessity to exist, but I’m sure some of them still dislike it. Reputation to me, is one of the most romantic albums Swift has ever produced. There are so many love songs written in secret, and we didn’t even know she was in a relationship until around 2017.
After a long long process of thinking and reflecting – “Delicate” has to be one of my favorite songs Taylor has ever written. Some people hated the music video but I thought it was perfectly quirky, unable to dance, Swift. The song is one I will throw myself out of the shower, soak the floor, create a mess, to turn up the volume. Drunk, sober, sad, happy Paige – it is one I need to scream at the top of my lungs.
Creativity speaking, I’ll start this blog with showing you the song I chose to recreate visually: New Year’s Day.
When this album came out, that next summer I had a bride and groom dance to this for their first dance and I lost it [lol]. It’s a song that embodies this true secret love. Liv and I discussed this song – and how I visualized it. A party scene, with the morning light, polaroids around on the ground, messy thrown up hair from the night before, still in the dress from the party – kicking off the new year with a secret love who is unseen [since we didn’t see Joe].
You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi
I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road
I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe
Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home
Don’t read the last page
But I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or we’re making mistakes
I want your midnights
But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s DayNew Year’s Day
A lot of people speculate on this album about who it is about. Prior to Rep, Taylor was at the height of her career, and the media couldn’t handle it. ‘1989‘ consisted of so many different looks because she was in every magazine ever. I actually recently watched a TikTok from a reporter about his interview with her during this era. Her manager came up to her and asked about a specific photoshoot and Swift put down her ‘presentational face’ and said “do you think I fucking remember ever shoot I’ve ever done?” The reporter said it was a breath of fresh air to see her, be her. Because she was doing SO many different shoots and interviews at this time- she was involved with the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, she was hanging out with models and influencers- and she always was polite and presentational for the media – being on her ‘best behavior.” The reporter didn’t mean this to be a dig to her, he genuinely was like, “absolutely, you deserve to answer like this.”
Reputation came after the media ‘cancelled’ Swift for something she didn’t do – for a second time – from Kanye. She went into hiding for a full year after her ‘1989‘ tour – took a break from people and the media and began to write Reputation. There is a theory that there is an album unreleased written between ‘1989‘ and Reputation called “Karma.” The reason this theory exists is because at the end of ‘1989‘ – Swift bleached her hair, started to dress in this ‘rocker’ vibe, and TYPICALLY Swift starts to hint to her next era using her fashion choices. However, Swift went into hiding and then brought out a new look that had nothing to do with ‘bleachella’ at all. [Video link before for reference and fan theory]
Reputation has a lot of speculation. From the angry songs to secret love songs – from Kanye to Scooter for anger, and Joe to Karlie for Love songs – but I have many thoughts on all of these theories as well [which I am including in my longer blog released in June]. Karlie Kloss and Taylor were extremely close throughout 2013-2015[ish], but it was rumored that Karlie was leaking information about Taylor’s work secretly and some bad blood boiled up [pun intended]. There is speculation they dated, but I actually am less convinced on that romantic relationship due to lyrics from “Time to Go,” and her poems she put out for Reputation.
When the words of a sister come back in whispers
That prove she was not in fact what she seemed
Not a twin from your dreams
She’s a crook who was caughtTime to Go – Taylor Swift
I think break ups with friends are even harder than romantically involved relationships – but on top of that – Taylor is making money on us, y’all, lol, and it’s much easier to sell a romantic break up song than it is a friendship break up that cuts us to the core.
I do think Swift has had some women romantically involved relationships but – those are all speculation and she has denied many of them – so that’s basically where my speculation ends. But I do think that Karlie’s blowout relationship DOES make in this album – as there are just a LOT of lyrics that sincerely cannot be about Joe in these songs.
Reputation has so many romantic songs – songs that are completely filled with love in secret… and we see these lyrics continue throughout lover. In my honest opinion, Taylor was her most happy in the Reputation era. People forget that writers are writing their next album while they are touring a current one. We see in the “Miss Americana” documentary that she began to fall in love with Joe during this era while she was touring, and from this, we also know she was writing ‘Lover’ during this era as well. She allowed herself to completely be free during this era – ridding everything she had been taught – understanding she will create haters no matter what she does – and finally learning ACTUALLY how to “Shake it off,” rather than hide from the world.
Your buzzcut and my hair bleached
Even in my worst times, you could see the best of me
Flashback to my mistakes
My rebounds, my earthquakes
Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth of meDress – Taylor Swift
Following that video up with what she included in her actual documentary – so this is why I say my speculation on love songs stops – because if she had another love affair that she wanted us to know about she would tell us – so whether she did or didn’t date Karlie, it’s none of our business really, and if she made some songs relatable for others in versions of love songs than understand that she is just an incredible song writer and knows her target market – – who probably would rather hear love and break up songs rather than bitter or close friendship songs that went sour [although, we would 900% relate to that, too lol].
So as she was touring Rep – all of these things were going on in the background. For this album I really wanted to show this angry, but happy Taylor. Angry at the media, but happy with her life and where it is going. The bruises and burns she got from the years prior, made her journey worth it. Reputation again, wasn’t loved by everyone. But when she released “Look What You Made Me Do,” every existing fan understood what was happening and it’s importance… maybe they didn’t LOVE it, but they got it. The problem with this release was definitely the singles chosen to go on the radio.
Taylors PR team, or her, constantly choose the wrong singles. They are songs that definitely make sense for music videos, and maybe that’s what they are led by, but “Getaway Car,” “So it Goes,” or “Delicate,” Could have easier pulled in newer listeners far more than “Look What You Made Me Do,” or “…Ready For It.” BUT the idea of the music videos, showing Taylor killing her old self was probably the point in all of this.
Still to this day we haven’t figured out the 120 clues in this video lol. But basically it was a ‘fuck you and you and you’ to everyone who hurt her. So besides all of this, the second or I guess, third portion of this shoot for me was the concert vibes she put out on her Reputation Tour.
I had SO much fun making this and using different colored lights and a fog machine. You’d never know this is just a standard studio with natural lighting in Grand Rapids lol. After I did two backlighting scenarios with colored gels and fog – I switched the lighting to be a 45 degree and a backlighting set up and I loved the results even more – for the drama.
Through editing these I also love this like – softer black and white look – and applying the editing from the cover images to the stadium feel visually is something that made me love these images a lot a lot a lot.
The images below are the inspiration from this shoot that I stared at for a long time and for the duration of the shoot [lol]. I’m really curious of the art she uses with her version of the album. A lot of her newer art feel very Folklore and Evermore vibes – as I think this is the moment she is actually happy with all of her music in totality.
Next Up: Folklore