Paparazzi have been around for decades, document historic moments in popular culture around the globe. They document on behalf of the public. Paparazzi are defined as photographers who take images of high-profile individuals usually who are normally going about their normal routines. They make their living by selling their images of people with notoriety to popular magazines and media outlets. Specifically, they work with gossip magazines and tabloids to make their income.
Federico Fellini is credited with coining the term ‘paparazzo’ in his film La Dolce Vita in 1960. Fellini spent many years shadowing scandal sheet photographers. Today, scandalous images can be valued for thousands of dollars, depending on who is captured in the image and what they are doing. For example, in 2006 an anonymous paparazzo told the New York magazine what certain images were valued at. For example, the paparazzo said that an image of George Clooney in 2006 sold for a couple thousand dollars while a photo of him with women sold for around $80,000. The price of the image depends on the narrative that the magazine wants to portray of the celebrity.
There has a been a long tense relationship with those with fame and those wanting to document said fame. Due to the reputation of paparazzi being a nuisance, there are many states and countries that implemented laws and restrictions to lower the tensions between the photographer and their subjects. Yet, in the U.S.A., celebrity media outlets are protected by the First Amendment. In California, the state passed a law in 2013 protecting child celebrities to stop paparazzi from harassing them, regardless of who their parents are.
There are has been even physical encounters between celebrities and paparazzi, as well. One of the first legal and physical battles between a celebrity and a photographer was in 1972 between photographer Ron Galella and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The incident started when Jackie’s secret service agents destroyed Galella’s camera and film after an encounter in Central Park. This lawsuit shaped the way, legally, the parameters of the relationship between the paparazzi and those who are famous.