Comparison of Taylor Swift’s Album Covers for Fearless (2008) and Reputation (2017)

Taylor Swift is one of the most talked about and controversial musical artists of the 21st century. Between her 46.5 million albums sales and her beef with her contemporaries, it is hard not to hear about her. There are two albums of hers where the album covers sticks out from the rest of her discography. Her album Fearless, which was released in 2009, shows Swift on the cover with her torso forward but her head to the side. At this point in her career, Swift decided to be more vulnerable and meaningful in her music.

Her 2017 album cover for reputation is in black and white, in which Swift is shown with half of her face covered in her own name. Swift filled this album with false personas and lies about her life. After being released almost exactly nine years apart, Taylor Swift’s album covers for Fearless and reputation have a symbolic meaning of her growth and experiences in the way she uses subject matter, repetition, focus, and lighting.

On the album cover of Fearless, Swift is clothed in a simple white dress that has a beige neck-piece and a necklace with a key on the end of it. Her body takes up most of the frame space, with her head tilted to the side, eyes closed, and hair blowing upwards. The audience is not shown her full body but from her head to her torso. The background of the cover is a blend of beige and white color. Swift’s makeup is simple with natural-colored lips, eye-liner, and mascara.

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There are two separate fonts. Her name, which is her own handwritten signature, is a light brown color. Right below that is the title of the album. The text is white and in a block-style text. The letters are spaced out, with vague shadows behind them.

reputation shows a more mature side of Swift. She is facing forward to the camera, with her hair to the side, in a wet-look. Half of her face and the picture is covered, in newspaper font, with her own name. The other half of the photo is a plain white background, with the album title all lowercased in black Engravers’ Old English font. Swift wears a sweater with one shoulder exposed. On one shoulder, there are holes, in which one seems to be stitched up. She also wears a tight chain necklace around her neck. On the cover of Fearless, Swift’s appearance is portrayed as girl-next-door or innocent.

This style reflects her writing and music on this album. The white dress and simple makeup represent purity and heart, which is what the album is consisted of. Her hair is shown blowing upwards. This represents a risk that Swift is taking. She becomes more open and vulnerable in her music, which is shown by this illusion of a jump, forcing her hair back. She also has her head tilted to the left, which indicates that she is scared and is taking a big risk in being vulnerable, as her career beings to grow. This is ironic as that the album is titled Fearless.

On the other hand, in Swift’s reputation cover, she has noticeably gotten older and is looking into the camera. The way she supports herself, she seems confident and brave. In the album, Swift has a lot of songs that really voice her opinions about the media and shuts down rumors about her. She also explores different tones and sound in her music. She must be brave to make this kind of music and brace for impact, as backlash will soon follow. Swift wears a sweater with a stitched hole, to represent the backlash that her adversaries will give her.

For the album cover of Fearless, there is no repetition whatsoever. It has a clean background and has plain colors. This shows that the album is personal and doesn’t have any cover up to it. No glitz and glams. She is portrayed as innocent and pure. It is truly her and she has not been exposed to the harsh world of a pop star like in reputation.

In reputation, Swift uses a lot of repetition. Her name, “Taylor Swift”, is written many times and covers half of the album cover, including half of her face. This is written in the style of newspaper articles and headlines of magazines. This use of repetition represents her stained image that is shown in the media. Swift has been put down for her actions in the past and the newspaper font “Taylor Swift’s represent her presence and a bad reputation in the media. On the other side of her face, there are no words and all that is displayed is Swift’s face, with little makeup on. Just as in Fearless, she uses makeup to symbolize that her music is still true to herself.

Focus is key to both album covers. In Fearless, the main focus is Swift. There is nothing distracting the viewer from her presence. When you look at the cover, you know that the music is going to be straight forward and personal, unlike reputation where the main focus is Swift, but with her use of repetition of her name, the audience gets distracted from her presence. This signifies that although the album is about her, you have to really dig deep into the lyrics that is coved by clever word choices. Swift uses the harsh words from the media and manipulates them into favor for her.

With spotlights on Swift in Fearless, there are little to no shadows and the viewer is forced to pay attention to her face. With her youthful and sweet look, you know the album is just that – youthful and sweet. The lack of shadows signifies that there are no secrets Swift is hiding from the public. On the other hand, in reputation there are shadows mainly on the right side of the cover.

As mentioned before, this side of the album cover shows the dark and tainted rumors about swift, in the form of her own name. The lack of light represents the lack of truth that the media writes in their headlines. With the album cover being in black and white, the shadows become darker and dramatized.

With the use of album covers, Taylor Swift allows audiences to understand what the album is about, before listening to them. The techniques such as lighting and repetition creates a more dynamic and meaningful photo. We can see Swifts growth and maturity in both album covers. She uses the media’s backlash as a motif yet stays true to who she is. I chose to write about these two albums, because I spent my childhood listening to her music. She is genuine in her songwriting abilities.

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Comparison of Taylor Swift’s Album Covers for Fearless (2008) and Reputation (2017). (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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