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Thursday, 26 June 2008


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I have a question: have there been any artistically good pap shots?

"I have a question: have there been any artistically good pap shots?"

I'd bet yes. I've never seen one, though.

I always used to say, give me any stack of a thousand snapshots and I'll find you a great photograph. Nature of the beast.

Mike J.

Perhaps the beleaguered actors can turn the paparazzi frenzy into a commercial advantage. I can image actors being followed around by people with image fulgurators, loaded with promotional messages for their latest film, or laundry detergent, or messages degrading the tabloids. Instant advertisement bankrolled, in part, by the paparazzi problem. (Google "image fulgurator" to see what I'm talking about).

I shoot a lot of candid photos with wide angle lenses in public and semi-public places (usually referred to as "street photography") and I've noticed the effect that this has on people. In a bar a few weeks ago I shot a picture of some highly average looking people sitting at a bar, drinking. One of them came up to me later and asked what publication I was shooting for. I told him I was working on a personal project and he replied, "Oh, good, I just didn't want to end up on TMZ or something." TMZ is a celebrity gossip site/tv show for those fortunate enough to not have heard of it. We laughed and bantered a bit, but I found it odd that his first thought after being the subject of a photograph was, "Celebrity."

you wrote:
"never see a movie in which Kevin Costner speaks with an accent"

that's too much. specifically, about three words too much--take out 'with an accent' and we'd be getting somewhere.

How about we pass a law requiring papps to use 4x5s? That'll slow 'em down a bit, and maybe we'd get more artistic shots, a la Weegee.

Interestingly, I've read two essays today containing the word pace (ital). Thought that one was r.i.p.

The answer to all your nagging problems.



I spent over two years, a few days a month, making portraits of perfect strangers who looked interesting and agreed to participate, in Grand Central Terminal. I always worked on a tripod, and was astounded that it gave me a cachet of official presence. Even people who refused assumed I was professional or important because of the tripod. All but one woman, who I asked if she'd pose. She got angry, and said we had to defend ourselves from the terrorists. She thought people shouldn't be allowed to make photographs in Grand Central, or inside or outside any other landmark. She was genuinely convinced that photographing was going to lead to terrorism, and that the government should protect her from me and my like artists. Bottom line, once we start restricting or managing what can be photographed in public, there is no good end to it.

Happened to read this morning that Nicole Kidman's body guard laid in the street in front of the paparazi's cars so they could not follow her in her new home of nashville.

Bold idea, but apparently effective.


Speaking of slave flashes, a friend linked me to this the other day:

(ah: maker's own page at
much the same content)

- an ingenious device which uses a slave flash to insert unexpected extra images into other people's flash photographs. While the maker's own political use of it seemed dull and heavy-handed to me compared to the artistic potential, and while I can easily imagine that it could be put to uses that would be offensive or outright wrong, the potential for messing with intrusive photographers is marvellous. One or two assistants with one of these, and all those paparazzi shots could be subverted nicely.

Mike, you seem to suffer from two misconceptions.

The first is that there is a problem at all. Since the dawn of celebrity tabloids, there has been a symbiotic relationship between celebs and the paparazzi. Without the tabloids, without the paparazzi, an actor would be forgotten within six months of her latest movie debut. Celebrities are keenly aware of this, and do whatever it takes to stoke the publicity fires nonstop. In fact, it's my understanding that Hollywood managers routinely "tip off" the paparazzi, "Hello Mike, Madonna will be eating from the dumpster behind the McDonald's at fifth and Main at five o'clock..." The whining about the paparazzi is just more posturing, more publicity seeking behavior.

The second misconception is that talk shows are anything but infomercials. All of the guests have something to sell - a book, a film, a political campaign. Heck, it won't be long before Steve Jobs skips MacWorld and starts launching products on Leno.

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