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What are Paparazzi?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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Paparazzi are freelance photographers who pursue unique candid photographs of celebrities. The actions of paparazzi are sometimes criticized, since they often go to extreme lengths to get distinctive photographs. At times, these photographers may cross the boundary into a place of questionable legality, and in some countries these trespasses may be prosecuted. In any location where celebrities and stars can be found, paparazzi are usually not far behind, and they are often specifically invited to high profile events.

The term is derived from the name of the character in the 1960 Fellini film La Dolce Vita. Signor Paparazzo is a photographer who constantly quests for the next big picture, at one point photographing a woman who has been devastated by personal tragedy. His tactics are remarkably similar to those used by real-life freelance celebrity photographers, and they came to be known as paparazzi. A single representative of this intriguing profession is known as a paparazzo, although it is rare to see a paparazzo alone, since these photographers often stalk each other as well as celebrities, in the hopes of following someone else to a groundbreaking photograph.

Many media outlets will pay a high price for unique photographs of celebrities, such as shots of them in more candid or vulnerable moments. Many paparazzi try to get naked photographs of celebrities, always a hot item with more sordid magazines. Others catch them on bad hair days, wandering the streets of the supermarket, or socializing with friends and families. The paparazzi may break onto private property in the quest for a perfect photograph, or crash private events.

Most celebrities struggle with the paparazzi. The constant trail of photographers can be extremely irritating, as simple tasks are made much more complicated by the presence of paparazzi. Stars may feel an obligation to be constantly on display, which can be very stressful. The paparazzi have also been known to goad celebrities so that they get compromising photographs, and some have even staged car accidents and other events in the quest for a photograph which will sell for a high sum.

Many advanced photography techniques are used to get candid photos of celebrities. The telephoto lens, for example, is a must-have for every serious paparazzo. Paparazzi may also use hidden cameras and other stealthy techniques to get shots of celebrities who may not be aware that they are being observed. Competition among these photographers can also be fierce, as each one wants distinctive photographs which cannot be produced by anyone else.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By doglover139 — On Jun 29, 2011

anon18524: TV is a brainwashing "idiot" box that turns everything into a big deal, but if you were a celebrity being followed every day by random strangers with a camera, you'd be ticked. We're not celebrities, so we don't need to experience this. Paparazzis are stupid people. They follow people around and intrude their privacy. Don't become one.

By anon18524 — On Sep 24, 2008

Do you get a buzz out of being this type of photographer? And is it as extreme as people make out on t.v?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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