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Looking back on over 25 years in the photo business, and still counting, my memories often flip between thousands of captured moments in black and white and then back to the same strange world in color. For over a decade of my career I was living and working in Los Angeles, California, taking photos of celebrities and most often on the red carpet.
From that description you might think I was one of the paparazzi, those obnoxious stalkers of famous people photos. I may have stood side by side with some of the paparazzi during my time on the red carpet, but I was hunting for a very different type of image.
It started back in March 1992 when I was hired as a runway photographer for that years Academy Awards. As someone who enjoys shooting people, I have always valued the subtleties of any shoot. To get the best results, you must pay attention to all the details; the styling of clothes and hair, the make up, the weather and angles of light wherever they are coming from and the various facial expressions of the subject.
When hunting for perfect famous people photos, you may take thousands of photos during an event and from all those exposures you are very lucky to get one or two good shots. It is very rare that all these puzzle pieces come together in one click. This is probably why most paparazzi shoot for quantity, not quality.
My official job on that sunny day back in March (and for the next 10 years) was to shoot the standard posed paparazzi style famous people photos. My agency wanted standing, smiling at the camera type shots ready to be splashed on the tabloids all over the world the next day. It took me only a few seconds to realize that I would be missing a huge opportunity if I limited photos to such a narrow view.
As I stood shoulder to shoulder with the other photographers on the world’s most famous 60 yards of carpet watching the waves of celebrity pass only a few feet in front of me, I played a dual role. I was one cameraman for my agency snapping the standard famous people photos and with my second camera and mini telephoto lens, I shot for my personal collection, mostly in black and white.
For as many years as I covered the Academy Awards, there is really nothing that can prepare you for such an event. Aside from the time pressures and all the technical maneuvers this sort of shoot requires, the near circus atmosphere all around you creates an unusual work zone.
The event attracts hundreds of photographers lined up side by side with TV crews, reporters and producers all dressed in black tie and evening gowns. There are long lines of parking attendants in red uniforms, huge throngs of fans screaming to be heard by their favorite star and a dozen helicopters circling endlessly like bees round a hive. In less than two hours over a thousand limousines drop off celebrity after celebrity with each stars arrival pushing that invisible “on” button for the media machine setting off a shock and awe of flashes and activity.
And deep within the madness that is The Oscars, somewhere behind all the smiles, bright lights and endless interviews are those magic moments waiting to be captured. With my old 35 mm SLR and mini telephoto lens, I waited for the perfect break in the storm that is the red carpet. In an odd way, as those famous faces crossed my path; the mix of screen legends, super models, music icons, foreign directors and action heroes, my mind became still. My senses all joined together in my virtual hunt for those perfect famous people photos and my work took on a very meditative quality.
These types of photos are few and far between, but they tell a story that the average celebrity shot just can not. With a lot of care and patience and a little luck, a photo can open a doorway into the mystery that we all love to create around our celebrities. As any movie fan can tell you, a smiling head shot is fine, but famous people photos that cut through the facade, even a little bit, are worth their weight in gold. These are the images that raise our awareness of the individual as well as the art form.
I no longer live in Los Angeles and no longer shoot the annual event known around the world as The Oscars. My photography muse has taken me into other aspects of the medium, but whenever I want to revisit those magical afternoons I can simply pull out my special book, my famous people photos, the ones I carefully hunted down oh so long ago and am still proud of to this day.
See the original post: Famous People Photos From the Photographers Perspective
Old as they may be, the magazines and periodicals you browse through in your dentist’s waiting room or at the hair dresser are endlessly fascinating, especially the celebrity photos, news articles and entertainment issues. If you love following the stars, political giants, and the lives of the rich and famous, then getting the latest celebrity news is also as easy now as going on line. No subscriptions are even necessary.
Numerous internet, entertainment, and celebrity gossip websites feature astoundingly interesting photographs of your favorite people. News stories revealing their lives, loves and illicit behaviors make each famous character come to life and sometimes the pictures really do speak louder than words. Each publication has its specialties and its own editorial personality. And all the fun stuff is reflected in imagery, story presentation and the interactive nature of the website with viewers, users, and advertisers.
But it’s the photographs of the famous and the infamous in candid, unguarded moments that are the secrets to holding our rapt attention. Online entertainment news agencies have brought the evil paparazzi back into the limelight – surrounded by myth and perhaps unduly maligned.
The Mythical Paparazzi
What would we do without them?
Some of the most exciting features on celebrity entertainment news sites are the pictures taken by paparazzi photographers. The reputation of these perceived annoying invaders is well known and they have even been called mosquitoes because they can be so annoying. But it should be remembered that when we are enjoying the published stories and the great paparazzi photos of the people we find so fascinating in film, television, and news, we are actually enjoying the results of the hard work of the paparazzi. And many of the legends and myths about them can be dispelled.
Who are they really?
Paparazzi is an Italian term used to refer to photojournalists who specialize in candid photographs of celebrities, politicians and other prominent people. They are really skilled and imaginative picture takers who tend to be independent contractors, unaffiliated with mainstream media organizations. Given their more innovative natures and technical abilities, the paparazzi should really be considered free lance photographers. They not only supply their work to various publications and the media, but they are attached to celebrity internet sites or online news agencies.
Are they lawbreakers who are hated by the rich and famous?
Freelance photographers as a group are law abiding citizens and they are only permitted by the First Amendment to snap pictures of public figures as long as they (the celebs) are in public places. And if you think from all the vitriol that photo journalists are hated by their subjects, that’s not entirely true either. Most celebrities understand that fantastic photos will keep them viewed in magazines and entertainment web sites. Many actually welcome and even invite the exposure.
Do the paparazzi really hang out in trees?
It’s easier for a photographer to trace celebrities’ schedules and either beat them to their events or wait outside their favorite coffee spots or gyms. But, even if the paparazzo does not climb a tree, the job is still not an easy one due to hours and hours of waiting around on sore feet in either freezing cold or the hot sun to get just the right angle or to meet a prominent person who may never show up.
Do they make a lot of money?
If the subject of the news articles is involved in a big scandal or the photographer gets a great shot of a celebrity doing something really extraordinary, there might be a higher value to the pictures. Every paparazzo dreams of such a scenario. A posed shot is not the goal. The ultimate challenge for the photographer is to catch the famed in normal movements like walking down a street or drinking coffee, giving a child a piggy-back ride, or holding hands with a loved one. There is more compensation for outstanding candid camera shots than for anything posed.
Are they all uneducated degenerates?
It may come as a surprise but most paparazzi are actually college graduates, former photo journalists, business owners, school teachers, and even doctors. They are drawn to the field because of their fascination with human interest stories and the resulting combination of creative photography with expert reporting – tantamount to the perfect storm that results in truly artistic journalism.
Next time you pick up that celebrity magazine or entertainment news publication at your dentist’s office, local barber shop or hair salon – or you discover the fantastic views and viewpoints at your favorite online entertainment news stop, keep in mind that the mythological evil paparazzi had a major hand in bringing you that enjoyment. There is always more than one side to every story and a tall tale holds no interest in today’s world without imaginative photography.
Read this article: Online Entertainment News – Myths About the Maligned Paparazzi