Lights, Camera, and Tactics
Have you ever wondered where the photo of your favorite celebrity came from? Who took it? How much was paid for the photo? Was anyone injured or harassed in the process of taking this photo? Do celebrities have a right to privacy? This essay takes a look at the paparazzi, the celebrities, the tactics used to take the pictures, and the tactics used to avoid a photo from being taken.
The paparazzi are possibly the most despised media practitioners. Members of this group can be seen on the streets of Los Angeles and New York, hoping to catch an unguarded moment of a celebrity, buying coffee, walking a dog, or doing just about any mundane activity. (Mendelson 1) Red Carpets, parades, scheduled appearances, awards shows and movie premieres are “staged events” where you can find celebrities posing for pictures from paparazzi. However, “these staged events are not where the candid moments will be found.” (Mendelson 1) The paparazzi comb the streets looking for the photo that will bring them the biggest price. “Paparazzi sell their photos to the highest bidder … photos can go for anywhere between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.” (Valdez) Several factors can determine the price a photo will bring, such as; “Who is the celebrity? Is the photo verifiable? What is the celebrity doing? How high is the quality of the photo? What is the availability of similar photographs from other paparazzi?” (Valdes 4) Kate Fillion interviewed paparazzo Ron Galella. In this interview, his attitude towards celebrities and their requests that photos not be taken is apparent: Q: What's it like to photograph Madonna?
A: Madonna is pretty natural, she doesn't run. See, most of the stars want publicity. Of course they want to control it, they want to be ready, but most stars like to be photographed. Most of them are bluffing when they say "No pictures!" They're just pretending they don't like it. The only celebrity I would say was very sincere was Greta Garbo. Q: Whose photo is in your book. Didn't you feel bad photographing this elderly woman, whose clothes suggest she was trying to remain anonymous, holding a Kleenex up to cover her face? She was begging you to go away. A: I did go away.
Q: But you printed the photo. Didn't your conscience have even a twinge? A: Not really. As a photographer, anything rare, you want. I understand she doesn't want it, but I could've photographed her all the way to her door and I didn't. I stopped after four or five pictures. Q: Do you respect a star more who genuinely doesn't want publicity? A: Yes. I get the picture and leave, I don't keep photographing for blocks and blocks, I'm not sadistic. Here's where I got one-up on them: I pre-focus my camera, this has been my technique. I see somebody and surprise them, shoot fast, then they say, "No pictures!" And I leave. But I already got one or two, you see. That's how you win. Rarely do I call a star's name. I hate doing that, like you're begging for a picture. Q: If a person who wasn't famous asked you to stop shooting, would you go ahead? A: No. I usually respect their wishes.
Q: Do you have an ethical code, a line you won't cross to get a photo? A: I do not go on their property. I got pictures of Doris Day in her bikini, with her dogs, but I was on the adjacent property, the gardener said it was okay, and I shot through the hedges with a long lens. (Fillion)
He further states:
“People like seeing their name in print, or hearing their name. It's music! It makes them feel important, and people like to feel important. That's the normal, natural way of humanity. And a lot of these celebrities who say, "No pictures," they're doing it for a game. When they say they're private, they get more publicity, more interest, and they create more mystery.” (Fillion) However, let’s take a look at what steps celebrities to protect their privacy.
Celebrities are clever...