Written and Interviewed by: James Lewis
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The paparazzi are an instrumental part of the entertainment industry. Without the paparazzi, that favorite “trashy” magazine you read would have no content, comedians would have to think of jokes themselves, and realistically, many celebrities would not be household names. Even though they play an instrumental part in the entertainment community, they are viewed as having fake jobs and being stalkers. I wanted to explore the paparazzi life more and find out what really goes on.
Paparazzi have jobs because the market demands celebrity content. Exclusive photos can sell for thousands of dollars, with some getting over $50,000. Like any industry, big money means big competition. That competition has led to many celebrities openly bashing the paparazzi, which has created a negative reputation for all photographers. Some of the negativity is warranted. Trespassing, harassing, and creating a dangerous driving environment is not okay. On the reverse, celebrities know the paparazzi play a vital role in keeping them relevant in a world that demands photos of their every move. Should society dislike a group of people who provide the content they desperately want? Should celebrities making millions of dollars be so bothered by paparazzi? Are paparazzi really that bad? All of these questions have no right or wrong answer, but when answering them, keep in mind the paparazzi industry is much more complicated than you think.
Cesar Pena, a New York paparazzo, has slowly become one of the best known and respected paparazzo in the industry. With over 34,000 twitter followers (Update: Cesar now has over 46,000 followers.), a successful YouTube Channel, and now his own website 247paps.tv, he is on his way to changing the paparazzi industry. Rihanna follows him on Instagram and frequently comments on his pictures how much she misses him. Justin Bieber, who is very open about his dislike of the paparazzi, follows him on Twitter, and recently tweeted him “I’m always in a good mood when people are nice. Thanks buddy for being kind.” (That got almost 34,000 retweets!) Cesar was gracious enough to give an exclusive interview about the paparazzi life to the American Airlines Center and help clear up some myths about the paparazzi industry.
Paparazzi Stalk Celebrities
Cesar says one of the most common questions he gets is, “Who are you stalking today?” “It is always frustrating when people think I stalk celebrities. Almost always, whomever I am shooting knows I will be waiting outside for them. I shoot Sarah Jessica Parker frequently in the mornings; she could leave a different way, but never does. The paparazzi normally work in the same areas. If you go to SOHO chances are you will be seen, but if you want to avoid us, it is not very hard. Paparazzi know where these hot spots are, and celebrities know that paparazzi will be waiting for them. ”
Being a Paparazzo is not a Real Job
“Most people do not understand everything a paparazzo does. It is ironic because those same people who watch TMZ and read People are the ones saying that being part of the paparazzi is not a real job. I run a small business and between managing other members of the team, establishing solid connections so we get the best shots and selling photos and video around the world, I am constantly working hard. I am a service to the celebrity. More coverage from me, means more coverage around the world, which means a bigger brand for that celebrity.”
Paparazzi are Only Bad
“Ninety percent of the New York paparazzi take their jobs very seriously. They are respectful to the celebrities, and most of the time, do not deserve negative judgment from the talent. Los Angeles is different because being a paparazzo most of the time is not a career. You do not always have to be respectful because connections are not as important.”
Most Celebrities Hate Paparazzi
“Most celebrities love the paparazzi. It may surprise you that some of the biggest celebrities are also the biggest paparazzi. They have contracts with photo agencies, where in return for telling them where they will be, they get a large commission from the sale of the photos. When certain celebrities say they do not like the paparazzi because they get nothing for their photos, it is a total lie. If they are not in with the photo agencies, they still gain by being in tabloids, on the Internet and TV shows around the world. Overseas and in L.A. they might experience more harassment, but in New York it is different. Rihanna hugs me, Ariana Grande says she watches my videos all the time, and I am probably the only paparazzo Justin Bieber recognizes. “
Negative Reputation of Paparazzi
“We definitely do not like to be viewed in a negative light by celebrities. The way we see it is the celebrity needs us just as much as we need them. I do not like the negative connotation at all because I feel like my partners and I respect each celebrity and person, and we do not step over any boundaries. However, I do see the other side of the coin and why celebrities see certain paparazzi as threats, but that is why we are keeping our ‘good guy’ image and displaying it for all to see.”
After talking with Cesar and “stalking” his work online I found out that he is not your normal paparazzo. Over the last three years, Cesar estimates he has helped over 9,000 fans personally meet their favorite celebrity. Cesar told me “The joy of my job is helping make people’s dreams come true. Being able to hand deliver a fan to Justin Bieber is something that is truly special.” How does he and his team do it? “We are always positive. Whenever we talk to a celebrity, we try to get to know them on a personal level. We know the drivers and bodyguards and let them know that if it is a bad day to shoot we will leave. This is why we never get umbrellas or bright lights flashed at our cameras; we keep it real and get respect in return.”
Cesar has been able to create a massive online presence by doing what the fans want, like covering Australian YouTube stars “The Janoskians”. Whenever Cesar has free time, he responds to every tweet he gets. Most of them are similar to this: “Cesar you are the best paparazzo ever. I hate every paparazzo other than you.”
Personally, I do not think the paparazzi are horrible people, especially after discovering how the industry works. I do think more paparazzi need to have the same attitude that Cesar and his team have. Being respectful has allowed Cesar to become the next big thing in the paparazzi world. 247paps.tv has fans around the world because their idols respect the work Cesar does. Even though other paparazzi, specifically in L.A. and overseas, have no requirement to be respectful to celebrities, it will only help them in the end.
What do you think of the paparazzi? Did anything in this post change your mind? Feel free to express yourselves (cue the Madonna) in the comment section below. Want more behind the scenes paparazzi information? Visit this link to read the FULL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Cesar himself. To stay up to date on all American Airlines Center events, behind the scenes content, and contests “LIKE” us on Facebook (facebook.com/insideaacenter) and “FOLLOW” us on Twitter and Instagram. (@InsideAACenter)