Paparazzi are Today's Most Talented and Underrated Visual Artists

Before talking about how paps are totally amazing and underrated artists, we have to talk about why it is that celebs have to pretend to hate them. I’ve said some things about paparazzi that I’m not proud of. I deleted them, because they are mean and wrong. I can’t justify why I said this stuff, but I can explain: the unwritten law of being a celeb is that you have to pretend you haaaaate the paps. It’s one of the first things you learn upon being famous. Your team is like, “so you totally depend on these photographers’ labor and good will in order to stay relevant, but you have to pretend you haaaate them.” And you’re like “Omg why?” and then you quickly learn: all of your fans need to believe you’re so above staging photos or they would feel betrayed. It sounds weird, but it’s true. Just look at the comments on this photo of one of the top up-and-coming paps, @papculture:

Everyone here is totally bugging over whether Zayn called the paps on himself (everyone: “he couldn’t have! if he were so impure as to call paparazzi, why didn’t he when his album was released?!”) or whether it was the Hadid team that set it up. Why is this significant? Because the celeb moral purity hierarchy is apparently based on who is staging photos.

Normals, let me tell you something. For the most part, when celebs don’t want to be seen, we aren’t seen. Everyone, myself included, has been caught off guard while looking less than fly, no doubt about it. But for the most part, paps don’t wait outside your house unless they’ve gotten a tip, which almost always comes from you or your team. Why? Because at any given moment, they have so many tips that it wouldn’t make sense for them to wait around any old house, unless they are totally sure you’re going to come out of there. Think about it. Think of all the paparazzi photos you’ve seen that weren’t taken right in front of a celeb’s house.

This is why the hand-on-face gesture is so powerful. It screams, “I don’t want to be seen! This whole thing is against my will!” and I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve done it, too. Sometimes we don’t want to be seen, but preponderance of the hand-on-face gesture has the effect of this out of proportion.

Now, for the main event: being a pap is really hard. It’s like being a sports photographer, but instead of having several hours worth of chances for photos, the game lasts all of 10 seconds. Especially when you’re shooting at a distance, it’s really hard to set the meter on your camera so quickly. And often times, you don’t actually know when/where your subject is going to emerge from!

Editorial photographers, on the other hand, make a ton more money, are actually given credit for their work, are gushed about, and have way more help when they take photos. I always use this video to illustrate exactly how well editorial shoots are staffed, so here you go.

So who started this charade of blaming everything on the paps, and what is the deal with it anyway? I have no idea. Part of the issue is that when one pap misbehaves, the whole world hears about it. Meanwhile, no one ever talks about their insane photography skills and good deeds. Many celebs don’t even credit paps when they post their pictures on Instagram. Can you imagine a celeb not tagging a photographer when reproducing photo from an editorial shoot?! It’s unthinkable. We always do!

In short, a few things need to happen. First, commoners need to just realize that most paparazzi photos are staged. It’s not a big deal, and it doesn’t mean celebs are morally bankrupt. Think about it. If this was your job, and your outfit looked amazing, wouldn’t you do the same? We celebs can be more open about this. Secondly, the paps need to band together and say, fuck it, we work harder, have more challenging shots to capture, are paid less, are given no credit, and are slammed constantly for no reason. In unity there is strength, guys! And I’m going to do everything I can to help the cause.



Jenya KennerComment