How Paparazzi Work

16 Dec

Paparazzi are perhaps the single greatest annoyance to celebrities, since many of them practically stalk and violate the privacy of those they photograph. Many paparazzi are not affiliated with any mainstream media companies, though they make their money by selling their photos to gossip magazines, papers, and websites such as or People that collect pictures of celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Andres Santo Domingo.

Paparazzi are not technically journalists, nor do they usually hold degrees in photography or art. Their goal is simple: snap candid, unique photos of any well-known face and sell it for as much money as possible. Many paparazzi have been cited for being far too aggressive, and in the past some celebrities have even filed restraining orders against them.

Paparazzi generally work independently, most turning their photos over to celebrity photo agencies that sell the snapshots to the highest bidder. The money made from the sale gets split between the photographer and agency, usually a 60/40 split. If the agency provided information to the photographer, such as where and when to find the celebrity, the split might be closer to 50/50, since the agency will need to pay its inside sources that originally shared the information.

It normally takes under 24 hours for photos to be sold. The selling agency will send low quality, cropped photos with captions to publications worldwide—often with a watermark. The highest bidder on the photos usually gains exclusive rights to print it for at least a few months.

Photo agencies sometimes hire paparazzi to get specific shots, too. For example, if a celebrity is having a baby, they might pay photographers to hang around the hospital until the celebrity emerges. Or in Lindsay Lohan’s case, they’ll wait around the courthouse or police station for her next scheduled hearing.

Exclusive photos and footage are worth far more than photos that have many versions, such as those taken at red-carpet events. For example, recent incidents with the Duchess of Cambridge and Anne Hathaway have led to exposing photos that likely sold for thousands. The better the story behind the photo, the more it sells for.


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