Goldsmith was born on February 11, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. Both music and photography
were a huge part of her life from early on: as a young girl she longed to be a
singer and spent hours upon hours listening to and mimicking songs by the likes
of Fats Domino, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. "I wanted to be a singer and
I thought that one day I might get to sing with Elvis," Goldsmith wrote in her
1995 book PhotoDiary. "My heart broke when Elvis went into the army."
Goldsmith's interest in photography burgeoned at the age of seven, after her father,
an avid amateur photographer, allowed her into his darkroom, where he "placed
paper in a tray and flipped the paper from one side to the other, then jiggled
it," she explains. "My own face appeared on that very piece of paper and
in that moment, I knew for certain that magic existed in the world." Goldsmith
wanted in on that magic, so her father gave her a Baby Brownie camera, which she
began using to photograph her dolls. By the age of 15 she'd had prints published.
"Balancing light and the mathematics of photography were very natural to me in
the way that there are some people who can just sit down and play the piano. .
.I've always looked through the lens and thought about what I was seeing and how
it affected me."