In 1992, a Canadian film crew made a documentary called Blast Em. It was an indepth look at the Paparazzi scene at that time (in the days when paparazzis were just assholes, not MONUMENTAL assholes. The film was broken into three parts, one exploring a Hollywood guy who followed movie stars such as Sally Kirkland around awards shows, another exploring New York based photographer Nick Elgar, who is quoted in the film saying that stars such as Robert DeNiro have no right to any privacy, as they are celebrities, explaining why it is Ok to sneak through the kitchen at the New York Hilton to crash a private event to which he was not invited to get photos of DeNiro eating and then harassing him for blocks as DeNiro was trying to walk home after the event (something most major celebrities cannot even try to do today).
The third part focused on Victor Malafronte, a New York “photographer” who, at the beginning of the film set out to get a photograph of Michael J. Fox, his wife Tracy and their newborn child (apparently, they have no right to privacy, either). He built a World War Two style bunker in Central Park across the street from the building that the Fox’s lived in, supplied it with his equipment, food and drink, blankets etc. and proceed to wait a few days for the family to leave their house. He runs after them with a camera and very long lens, gets in front of them and takes an incredibly lousy, out of focus photo of the Fox’s. The photo commanded about $100,000 from a tabloid.
Moving forward to today’s economy, last month www.thedailybeast.com wrote a blog post exploring pricing of celebrity photos. Their conclusion was:
The price for paparazzi photos has plummeted 31 percent, according to an exclusive Daily Beast survey. Is this the end of the celebrity economy?
Recently the celebrity media bubble has burst—destroyed by the recession, among other factors—leaving hordes of paparazzi, the agencies that employ them, and the magazines and Web sites that showcase their wares, facing a new, very bleak reality.
Brandy Navarre of the X17 agency calls this new world, “the Post Britney Era,” seeing as it was Britney’s much-publicized downfall that coincided with, and fueled, the paparazzi industry. In 2007, paparazzi agencies estimated that 20 percent of their coverage was devoted to the fast-falling pop star. X17 had 15 photographers devoted exclusively to Spears.
Real photographers can only hope that this trend continues!