Much of the photo industry has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, but the subset of photographers receiving the least pity for their woes might be paparazzi. As celebrities self-isolate, their business has dried up almost completely… but you won’t find many people sympathetic to their plight.
A report by AFP published on Yahoo! News pointed out that the paparazzi industry in Hollywood has been “decimated by the lockdown,” even as demand for celebrity photography skyrockets. The only chance to snap a photo of a celebrity is if and when they leave their homes to walk their dog or grab groceries, at which point they’re probably wearing a mask and sunglasses—assuming they’re even doing these chores themselves.
Celebrity photo agency founder Randy Bauer told AFP that his agency went from licensing about 7,000 celebrity photographs a month, to around 500 “if we’re lucky.”
The reaction online has been, as you might expect, less than sympathetic. Sparked by a tongue-in-cheek tweet by Crissy Teigen, people piled on, with one person comparing paparazzi losing work to burglars losing work:
u know who is suffering right now. the paparazzi. ain’t got no one to shoot. some outside my house right now. waiting waiting for a walk that will never happen. a nipple that will never fall out. I think…I think I will give them a nipple
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) April 15, 2020
Paparazzi suffering is one of the bright sides of this pandemic. https://t.co/dDYvW83Tm9
— Kim G (@kimdg172) April 16, 2020
I feel for paparazzi but burglars are suffering way more. How are they supposed to make living when we’re all home all the time? So sad…
— Ognjen Guzina (@ogigru) April 16, 2020
— mbou77 (@mbou771) April 18, 2020
The report has led to some discussion online about whether or not people should feel sorry for a branch of photography that is often seen as a ‘necessary evil’ at best, and predatory at worst. On one side of the debate are the paparazzi themselves:
“Obviously the general public’s gonna give us a big boohoo about, you know, paparazzi struggling,” said photographer Mark Karloff on a recent episode of the Paparazzi Podcast. “But we are family guys — we have kids, we have family — and we’re human as well.”
But even among fellow photographers, the reaction has been entirely unforgiving. An r/photography thread featuring the AFP report consisted mostly of the same “boohoo” vibes—calling paparazzi photographers “scumbags” and “vultures,” and celebrating the demise of their industry as a lone bright spot of the pandemic.
As one commenter on Reddit put it: “It is extremely rare, but sometimes, there are cases where it’s perfectly OK to feel good about job losses in a particular area. This is one of those times.”
Image credits: Header photo by Kurt Bauschardt, CC BY-SA 2.0