Los Angeles, California, 2009-2012
I spent three years scouring the streets of L.A. staring at faces and license plates while looking for people that were for better or worse, “celebrities.” It didn’t matter if they were on a sitcom from 35 years ago or a B-movie from last week. Reality stars, athletes, musicians, movie stars, co-stars, the person that played the best friend of the friend.
If I recognized them I photographed them.
I literally stumbled into being a paparazzi, having accidentally come across the Jackson Family compound the day Michael died while on the way to the beach. Soon after, while doing a headshot shoot in Venice I came across Jack Black, in character for a video game on Muscle Beach.
It wasn’t kismet but it was definitely interesting. In the beginning, I really wasn’t as aggressive as I needed to be but by the end I became just as cynical and jaded as anyone else doing this. I had no compunction about raising my camera at anyone, anywhere at anytime. Had I gotten over my sense of propriety quicker, I would have been a much more successful paparazzi.
For the most part, the “celebrities” I came in contact with were all very nice. What they understood, which is what I came to know was that there’s a symbiotic relationship between the media, paparazzi and the “celebrity.” You’ll conveniently see people who never get photographed out and about when they have a movie opening and never see again them again for six months. Or ever.
Even publicists will call and tell you where, when and who their client will be with, just don’t let it slip that their publicist sent you (even though they know.) It’s a game, everyone’s in on it and playing their part.
For the rare times I would get admonished by some onlooker on the street I would simply reply with this: when the people of the world stop being interested in what Kim Kardashian or whoever replaces her is doing then you can say something, until then, have a nice day.
I’ve strived to present these people in a different way than you see them on the pages of the tabloids or Vanity Fair and hope I succeeded.