How paparazzi work
By Marshall Brain
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) We've all seen it - the photo of a famous celebrity caught unaware. He might be lighting a cigarette in front of a child, or she might be hiking up her swimsuit on the beach to cover something that should not be showing. In many of these celebrity photos, the celebrity is scowling or angry.
These photos are the work of the paparazzi. The paparazzi are photographers who take photographs of celebrities in return for money from magazines, newspapers and television shows. Whether you love or hate the paparazzi, you have to admit one thing - their work is becoming more and more a part of daily life.
The first question you might have is this: Where does a word like "paparazzi" come from? It actually comes from the name of a character in a movie. That character - Paparazzo, in the 1961 movie "La Dolce Vita" - is styled after a real Italian photographer named Tazio Secchiaroli. Secchiaroli made a name for himself as a street photographer in the 1950s. He was the first photographer to start taking pictures of stars and politicians "on the street". Prior to that, just about every photo you saw of a star in a newspaper was a publicity photo.
Why do the paparazzi do what they do? At the root of it is the fact that many people have an insatiable appetite for information about celebrities. Photos and videos of celebrities sell magazines and draw viewers to TV shows. Therefore, editors are willing to pay money for photos. That money gives the paparazzi the incentive to do what they do. If a photographer takes a good photo of a celebrity in a compromised position, that photo can be worth thousands of dollars. Photos of celebrity babies and celebrity weddings can also earn big bucks.
The problem is that the big bucks can, at times, turn the paparazzi into a big problem. Especially if you are a celebrity trying to live a relatively normal life. Celebrities can be swarmed by paparazzi when trying to get in and out of hotels or restaurants. They can be blockaded in their homes. Paparazzi have been known to do things that are illegal. For example, they have been known to intentionally collide with the cars of celebrities, or to intentionally pull the fire alarm of a building, in order to get celebrities out in the open so they can be photographed. The whole business can get quite sordid, and it is easy to understand why celebrities get annoyed. The paparazzi can make life miserable.
You might be wondering how the paparazzi find the celebrities. It turns out that the really good paparazzi are a lot like private detectives, and they develop a network of informants who help them locate their prey. For example, a photographer might pay hair stylists, restaurant employees, caterers and so on for information about celebrities. There's even something of a food chain that develops around celebrities. For example, a group of people called autographers follow celebrities around trying to get their autographs (which the autographer then sells). Autographers can often provide information to members of the paparazzi.
Once a member of the paparazzi knows where the celebrity is, it is time for technology. A good camera with a big zoom lens can often be helpful. In most cases, if the paparazzi is taking a picture of a public figure (like a celebrity) in a public place, then it's legal. This allows a photographer to stand on public property and capture a picture of a celebrity using a telephoto lens. Sometimes the paparazzi will go to great lengths. The paparazzi can use helicopters, boats - just about anything they can think of to get a good shot.
If you are sympathetic to the plight of celebrities, you might be wondering whether there is anything that can be done to control the paparazzi. Some countries have taken action. In France, for example, there are laws governing the paparazzi. California has some controls as well, enacted in the wake of Princess Diana's death. It may take another death to get more far-reaching legislation passed.
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