Paparazzi (UK: /ˌpæpəˈrætsi/, US: /ˌpɑːpəˈrɑːtsi/; Italian: [papaˈrattsi]; sg.: masculine paparazzo or feminine paparazza) are independent photographers who take pictures of celebrities, prominent public figures, and other high-profile people; namely professional athletes and entertainers who typically go about their usual daily life routines. Paparazzi tend to make a living by selling their photographs to media outlets that focus on tabloid journalism and sensationalism (such as gossip magazines).

Statue of a paparazzo by sculptor Radko Mačuha in Bratislava, Slovakia
Paparazzi style photography
Mickey Hargitay assaults the "King of Paparazzi" Rino Barillari while a woman hits him with her purse—Via Veneto 1963.
Henry Bond's photograph of English singer-songwriter and entertainer Robbie Williams, shot in a paparazzo style in London in 2000



Paparazzi tend to be independent contractors, unaffiliated with mainstream media organizations, who track high-profile people and take pictures of them opportunistically.[1] Some journalists have described the behavior of paparazzi as stalking,[2][3][4] and anti-stalking laws in many countries address the issue by seeking to reduce harassment of public figures and celebrities, especially when they are with their children.[5] Some public figures and celebrities, such as Adele, Prince Harry, and Kristen Stewart, have expressed concern at the extent to which paparazzi go to invade their personal space.[6][7] The filing and receiving of judicial support for restraining orders against paparazzi has increased, as have lawsuits with judgments against them.[8]

Paparazzi are often a problem for celebrities, as the latter have become increasingly objectified and worshipped by fans (see: Celebrity worship syndrome), especially through social and mass media.[9] This happens because constant exposure to and coverage of these figures [10] leads people to treat celebrities like they are their social intimates, whom they admire, gossip about, or copy habits from.[11] A 2009 study which anonymously interviewed a number of celebrities showed that it was a common sentiment that being pursued by paparazzi causes a loss of personal life, lack of anonymity, and a feeling of constantly being watched.[12] This causes them to compensate by forming separate identities, one an image offered to the public, and one reserved for moments of privacy and intimacy.

It is also a common practice for celebrities to willingly invite paparazzi to take photographs of them, the main reason being to maintain or increase their relevance and exposure.[13][14]

Famous paparazzi


Walter Santesso portrays Paparazzo in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita, marking the character as the eponym of the word paparazzi.[15]

Ron Galella is well known for his obsessive stalking of several celebrities, most notably Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Galella has been defined "the Godfather of the U.S. paparazzi culture".[16]

Rino Barillari is an Italian paparazzo known as "The King of Paparazzi" in Italy.[17][18] He was awarded the Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1998.[19]





Intrusive photojournalism has existed since the nineteenth century. The invention of quicker and more portable cameras facilitated the process of capturing unauthorized celebrity photographs and publishing them in illustrated newspapers, which started appearing in the 1890s.[20] One of the first instances of a "snatched photograph" was in 1898, when two photographers were able to capture a photograph of Otto von Bismarck on his deathbed through bribery.[21]



A news photographer named Paparazzo (played by Walter Santesso in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita directed by Federico Fellini) is the eponym of the word paparazzi.[22] In his book The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini named the "hyperactive photographer ... after Italian slang for 'mosquito'".[23] As Fellini said in his interview to Time magazine, "Paparazzo ... suggests to me a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging."[24] Those versions of the word's origin are sometimes contested. For example, in the Abruzzo dialect spoken by Ennio Flaiano, co-scriptwriter of La Dolce Vita, the term paparazzo refers to the local clam, Venerupis decussata, and is also used as a metaphor for the shutter of a camera lens.

Further, in an interview with Fellini's screenwriter Flaiano, he said the name came from the book Sulla riva dello Jonio (1957),[25] a translation by Italian poet Margherita Guidacci of By the Ionian Sea,[26] a 1901 travel narrative in southern Italy by Victorian writer George Gissing. He further states that either Fellini or Flaiano opened the book at random, saw the name of a restaurant owner, Coriolano Paparazzo, and decided to use it for the photographer. This story is further documented by a variety of Gissing scholars[27] and in the book A Sweet and Glorious Land. Revisiting the Ionian Sea.[28] By the late 1960s, the word, usually in the Italian plural form paparazzi, had entered English as a generic term for intrusive photographers.[29] A person who has been photographed by the paparazzi is said to have been "papped".[30]

In other languages


A transliteration of paparazzi is used in several languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, including Japanese (パパラッチ), Korean (파파라치), Ukrainian (папарацці), Russian (папарацци), Bulgarian (папараци), Thai (ปาปารัสซี) and Hebrew (פפראצי). Chinese uses , meaning "puppy squad". Khmer uses អ្នកប្រមាញ់រូប (anak bramanh roub).[citation needed]

Social media era


For the majority of the history of paparazzi from the 1950s–2000s, paparazzi have been viewed as "invasive, aggressive, and greedy men" who would commonly clash with public figures,[31][13] but they have since become calmer and less combative.[6][13] Social media grew in size during the 2010s, which made shooting sensational photos more accessible to the public and allowed celebrities to better control what pictures of them were publicized.[31][6] This in turn cheapened the value of sensational photos, and made the paparazzi industry riskier and less profitable.[32] Although tensions still remain, more celebrities have begun to regularly (or during a setback) invite, befriend, or ask paparazzi to take photos of them to sustain their careers, such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna.[6][14] (However, since the mid-2000s, social media has contributed to the industry's growth in Hindi cinema and more invasion of privacy there.)[33] Public distrust has also increased around staged paparazzi photos.[13]



Due to the reputation of paparazzi as a nuisance, several countries and states restrict their activities by passing laws and curfews,[citation needed] and by staging events in which paparazzi are specifically not allowed to take photographs.[34][35][36][37] In the United States, celebrity news organizations are protected by the First Amendment.[38] However, to protect the children of celebrities, California passed Senate Bill No. 606[39] in September 2013. The purpose of the bill is to stop paparazzi from taking pictures of children or wards in a harassing manner because of their parent's occupation. This law increased the penalty for harassment of children.[40] California Civil Code sections 1708.7 and 1708.8 explicitly address stalking and invasion of physical privacy.[41][42]


A group of photojournalists often known as paparazzi

In 1972, paparazzo photographer Ron Galella sued Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis after the former First Lady ordered her Secret Service agents to destroy Galella's camera and film following an encounter in New York City's Central Park. Kennedy counter-sued claiming harassment. The trial lasted three weeks and became a groundbreaking case regarding photojournalism and the role of paparazzi. In Galella v. Onassis, Kennedy obtained a restraining order to keep Galella 150 feet (46 m) away from her and her children. The restriction was later reduced to 25 feet (7.6 m). The trial is a focal point in Smash His Camera, a 2010 documentary film by director Leon Gast.

In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales and partner Dodi Fayed were killed in a limousine crash as their driver was speeding, trying to escape paparazzi. Another person, Trevor Jones, survived.[43][44] An inquest jury investigated the role of paparazzi in the incident, but no one was convicted. The official inquests into the accident attributed the causes to the speed and manner of driving of the Mercedes, as well as the following vehicles, and the impairment of the judgment of the Mercedes driver, Henri Paul, through alcohol.[45]

In 1999, the Oriental Daily News of Hong Kong was found guilty of "scandalizing the court", an extremely rare charge where the judiciary find that the newspaper's conduct undermines confidence in the administration of justice.[46] The charge was brought after the newspaper had published abusive articles challenging the judiciary's integrity and accusing it of bias in a lawsuit the paper had instigated over a photo of a pregnant Faye Wong. The paper had also arranged for a "dog team" (slang for paparazzi in the Chinese language) to track a judge for 72 hours, to provide the judge with first-hand experience of what paparazzi do.[47]

Time magazine's Style & Design special issue in 2005 ran a story entitled "Shooting Star", in which Mel Bouzad, one of the top paparazzi in Los Angeles at the time, claimed to have made US$150,000 for a picture of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Georgia after their breakup. "If I get a picture of Britney and her baby," Bouzad claimed, "I'll be able to buy a house in those hills (above Sunset Boulevard)."[48] Paparazzi author Peter Howe told Time that "celebrities need a higher level of exposure than the rest of us so it is a two-way street. The celebrities manipulate."

In 2006, Daniella Cicarelli went through a scandal when a paparazzo caught video footage of her having sex with her boyfriend on a beach in Spain, which was posted on YouTube.[49] After fighting in the court, it was decided in her favor, causing YouTube to be blocked in Brazil. This caused major havoc among Brazilians, including threatening a boycott against MTV Brasil, where Cicarelli worked, unless she was fired.[citation needed] The block only lasted a few days, and Cicarelli was not dismissed. The legal action backfired as the court decided she had no expectation of privacy by having sex in a public location.[citation needed] Cicarelli appealed the decision, and the case was finally settled in 2015 with the Superior Court of Justice of Brazil awarding Cicarelli and her boyfriend in the video damages of R$250,000 (US$64,000) from Google.[50]

Following the publication of photographs showing Catherine, Princess of Wales sunbathing whilst topless at the French holiday home of her husband's cousin Viscount Linley, it was announced on September 14, 2012, that the royal couple were to launch legal action against the French edition of Closer magazine. It was the first time that a senior British royal has sued in a court outside the UK. The reason cited for the legal action is that the Duchess had a right of privacy whilst at the home—the magazine responded that the pictures had been taken from the public highway. The injunction was granted on September 18, 2012, and the publishers of the magazine were ordered not to publish the photographs in France and not to sell the images. The publishers were also ordered to hand over the original material of the published pictures under threat of a €10,000 fine for every day of delay in doing so.[51] In 2017, the magazine was ordered to pay €100,000 in damages to Catherine and William, and another €90,000 fine to two staffers.[52]

In the United Kingdom, Sienna Miller, Amy Winehouse, and Lily Allen have won injunctions that prevent the paparazzi from following them and gathering outside their houses. Miller was awarded £53,000.[53]

In 2013, rapper Kanye West faced assault charges after attacking a photojournalist. He stated that he would fight to get the law changed, so celebrities can profit from paparazzi's work.[54][55]

Other measures


In addition to legal action, celebrities have taken other measures to avoid paparazzi. When Daniel Radcliffe was performing in the play Equus in London, he wore the same hat and jacket every day for six months, to make the photos look old and therefore "unpublishable".[56]


The E! network program Celebrities Uncensored used footage of celebrities made by paparazzi.[57]

Lady Gaga released the single "Paparazzi" in 2009 for the album The Fame, which she described to be "about wooing the paparazzi to fall in love with me". It received critical acclaim and charted in the top ten in the United States and the United Kingdom.[58]

See also


  Media related to Paparazzi at Wikimedia Commons   The dictionary definition of paparazzi at Wiktionary


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