April 29, 2011

How Princess Diana changed the way paparazzi pursue Kate Middleton

Glenn Gratton is bicycling frantically around London today, chasing down Kate Middleton and the crew during the royal wedding ceremonies.

The founder of London-based paparazzi agency Matrix pictures, which had photographers stationed at eight points along the route from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, has been snapping celebrities – including the royals – for more than two decades.

For newly wed Ms. Middleton, this is just the beginning of a long relationship, but one that will be heavily influenced by Princess Diana's experience with the paparazzi. Tougher laws against intrusive photographers followed her death in a 1997 car accident while being pursued by paparazzi.

"We don’t have our guys aggressively follow cars," says Mr. Gratton of the paparazzi's sensitivities to the way Diana died, and her sons William and Harry's ill feelings toward the cameras.

"We are sensitive to that. I mean, not only because of what happened, but because there might be kids there, and we don’t want to be held responsible for any harm coming to anyone. And we understand the princess would be wary of us. You would be, too. But they are never rude or horrible," he adds.

Even in the years before saying "I do" today to Prince William and becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, Middleton has battled the paparazzi's attempts to cash in on her popularity, suing and winning damages for photographs that breached privacy.

The Monitor talked with Gratton ahead of today's wedding:
How do you think Kate will turn out? Will she be an icon like Diana?
Kate will be good, and some photos of her are already getting serious money – the first shots of her coming out of a visit to the abbey, after they had announced the engagement, were worth 50,000-60,000 pounds [$83,000-$100,000]. It was an exclusive picture.

Kate will always live in the shadow of Princess Di, and she has a lot of growing up to do. But she will be a good story. Especially when she gets pregnant – then there will be a media frenzy. People love losing- and gaining-weight photos.
How does taking photos of the royals differ from snapping photos of any other celebrities?
There are a lot of celebrities who actually need publicity to keep up an image, especially the reality TV stars. The royals are not like that – and they also have more protection and security to help push us back.

What royals are of the most interest?
William and Harry, of course. That is where it’s at, and it has been a long game of cat and mouse with them. They want to live their lives and not get caught. We want to catch them. Preferably doing something a little naughty, because that’s what sells. If you have Princess Anne, she won't get as much of a hassle from us.

Are the princes always trying to duck you?
William is a bit older and he is OK with us. Sometimes we get invited into clubs for charity events and they pose. Harry on other hand a young man enjoying himself. If he wants to drink too much and be a little bit wild, he doesn’t want a photographer there.
How do you know where they are?
Our office is staffed 24 hours a day – even on Christmas – and we have a variety of sources of info and people who tip us off.
In general, we like to keep a distance and not be part of a pack but try and get exclusives. The public is interested in what celebs do in day-to-day life and we use long lenses a lot. But again, this is harder with the royals because once they are on those royal estates, it is hard to get them.

Is it even possible to get any original photos this week with so many regular media outlets following the story and everything so choreographed?
It is more of a news event than something for the paps, but we have foreign agents who are hungry for anything, so we are insanely busy. There will be celebrities at the wedding shots, and of course there is the kiss. We also have guys at the airports just in case, to try and catch them as they head off to honeymoon, although they will probably go private.

April 23, 2011

In Your Face: Paparazzi take root in Washington

Did you know that a picture of Oprah in flip-flops where it looked like she maybe had a sixth toe — Oprah does not have a sixth toe, fwiw — earned a D.C. photographer $50,000?

Annie Gowen explores the small but thriving world of Washington paparazzi, who will be out in full force this week for the White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

Meet the guy Shia LaBeouf threw a cup of coffee at. Watch as the Oprah photog totally blows a chance to ask Martin Sheen about Charlie. Hear them brag about their high-speed chase of Russell Crowe on the Clara Barton Parkway. Interesting but maybe not surprising revelation: These guys all hate each other.

Read the article HERE.

April 21, 2011

2nd Photojournalist Dead After Libya Shelling

Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros stands in front of a burning building while on assignment on April 18, in Misrata, Libya. Hondros was killed in Misrata on April 20.
Getty Images via AP
  Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros stands in front of a burning building while on assignment on April 18, in Misrata, Libya. Hondros was killed in Misrata on April 20.

Photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were killed by a mortar round in Misrata, Libya, on April 20. Fellow photographers Guy Martin and Michael Christopher Brown were also injured. Photojournalist Andrea Bruce shares her memories of Hondros.

People may not understand life in Iraq or Libya, but most know what its like to hurt. Or to lose someone they love. Crossing the language and cultural barriers of the world, photos point out the similarities of human nature. We have a visceral reaction when we see a little girl cry because her parents were shot in front of her. They are not just numbers or names. They are people. We want to reach inside the frame and help her.
This is what one of Chris Hondros' most unforgettable images from Iraq did for us. It shows a reality that was often reported, but rarely seen.

Samar Hassan, 5, screams after her parents were killed by U.S. soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division in a shooting in Tal Afar, Iraq, on Jan. 18, 2005. The troops fired on the Hassan family car when it unwittingly approached them during a patrol in the tense northern Iraqi town.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
  Samar Hassan, 5, screams after her parents were killed by U.S. soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division in a shooting in Tal Afar, Iraq, on Jan. 18, 2005. The troops fired on the Hassan family car when it unwittingly approached them during a patrol in the tense northern Iraqi town.
Chris understood the power of photography as much as most governments do. The first thing banned in countries of conflict, the first thing targeted, are cameras. But Chris had an unflinching desire to tell the truth and an uncompromising need make people see the problems of the world.

He always remained strong. Unapologetic.

He went to great lengths to provide anyone who asked with all the advice needed to do this job safely and intelligently. Or, make you a mixed CD of classical music when you were down. Or, take the time to write you a two-page, well-researched email if he disagreed with you.

Chris was the glue of our photojournalism community — a community that has had a rough year. Many colleagues have been injured, kidnapped and killed. The void left by his, and Tim's, death will not only be a blow to news organizations and all of us who knew and admired them, but also to the people who live in Misrata — who are also being killed — with few people left to give them a voice.

Without Chris, Tim, and other photojournalists like them, the truth about the horrors of war can easily be hidden. Dismissed. Accepted.

April 20, 2011

Restrepo Director Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

Rough news out of Libya today: Acclaimed war photographer and Oscar-nominated director Tim Hetherington was killed today during shelling in Misrata, reports the New York Times.

Hetherington is probably best known as co-director of the Afghan war documentary Restrepo. Two other photojournalists were seriously wounded: Getty's Chris Hondros and British citizen Guy Martin. Hetherington also produced pieces for ABC's Nightline about his Restrepo subject, the Korengal Valley.

An executive producer for the show recounts a story: "During shooting for the Nightline specials, he very seriously broke his leg on a night march out of a very isolated forward operating base that was under attack. He had the strength and character to walk for four hours through the night on his shattered ankle without complaint and under fire, enabling that whole team to reach safety."

April 14, 2011

Sean Penn Paparazzi Attack -- The Haiti Factor

The paparazzo who was attacked by Sean Penn in 2009 is donating all of the money he won in the court settlement to various charities -- including one cause very dear to Penn's heart ... Haiti.

TMZ has learned the terms of the settlement between Jordan Dawes and Penn reads, "All of the net proceeds of the settlement will be donated to charities that support victims of domestic violence and victims of the earthquake in Haiti."

We're told Dawes' powerhouse attorney, Donald Karpel, is also donating a large chunk of his attorney's fees to the charities as well.

As TMZ first reoprted, Penn got 36 months probation and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service stemming from the attack.

April 6, 2011

Queen Silvia Of Sweden Injured While Escaping Paparazzi

Queen Silvia of Sweden was injured while trying to escape paparrazi in New York City on Tuesday.

Queen Silvia, wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf, was visiting New York to attend events connected to her World Childhood Foundation, which works to raise money for poor and impoverished children. She was accosted by a photographer from a Swedish tabloid while shopping on Madison Avenue with her youngest daughter, Princess Madeleine.

"It's not a question of her simply wanting to avoid being photographed. It's more akin to stalking," a Royal Court spokesman told the Expressen newspaper.

The photographer was reportedly waiting outside the front entrance where she and her daughter were shopping on Tuesday. The pair attempted to escape through a side door but the photographer chased after them, causing Queen Silvia to fall.

"Unfortunately, the Queen then fell, injuring both her foot and wrist," the statement said.

Jan Helin, the editor-in-chief of the Swedish tabloid the photographer was working for, says he will reflect on this incident to determine whether guidelines for reporting on the royal family need to be revised.

April 1, 2011

Historic meeting launches enforcement, new anti-paparazzi law

In January a private meeting occurred uniting prosecutors with law enforcement, private investigators, executive protection agents and attorneys for an intimate conversation. The media was barred.

The names of the people there could have comprised a Who’s Who in Los Angeles.

The select group gathered at the Marriott in downtown Los Angeles and looked at ways to enforce the new "anti-paparazzi" law AB 2479 that makes reckless driving acts, by those with a commercial purpose, a criminal act.

Sean Burke, the organizer of the meeting and founder of the Privacy Rights Initiative, formerly known as the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, described the atmosphere in Los Angeles as the Wild West. "It is like the gold rush before law and order arrived," says Burke. The Privacy Rights Initiative is a non-profit group of advocates and legislators for stronger laws.

“The knowledge and information that was exchanged within this group will be a direct contribution to many of the arrests made by peace officers, private investigators and executive protection agents,” says Jesse Martell, a private investigator and former Los Angeles police officer who may provide evidence of the criminal behavior at a future court date. “Every person who attended this meeting already had an understanding and concern of these reckless acts that have placed the public and the lives of celebrities in jeopardy.”

Called the PRI Paparazzi Roundtable, a few of the select group of 30 professionals who met to discuss strategies from gathering evidence to implementing it, included Andrew Wallet, attorney and co-conservator of Britney Spears' estate, William Hodgman, deputy district attorney, Matthew Schonbrun, deputy city attorney, Michael Dundas, deputy city attorney, Commander Kevin McCarthy, Los Angeles Police Department assistant commanding officer, Lt. Mark Rosen, Beverly Hills police traffic bureau commander, Sgt. Joe Jakl, traffic services detail with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Bill Moulder, legislative unit with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and officers Mel Flores, Jose Gutierrez and A. Bender from the California Highway Patrol.

“It was very productive,” says Barry Mozian, president, Talon Executive Services, a corporate security and private investigation firm.

“It’s the first time we were able to do something that hasn’t been done before with law enforcement coupled with prosecutors there to discuss these issues and really have a meeting of the minds with the ability to see each other’s faces, address what the concerns were and if they are concerns. This is not based on the whims and wants of a celebrity. It’s about privacy and public safety,” he says.

Burke, who helped draft the language of AB 2479, organized the Jan. 27, 2011 event for the exchange of information between parties who might not ordinarily get a chance to meet but who may be the most instrumental in the prosecution and conviction of paparazzi who break the new law.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Burke. “I was impressed by the turn out, interest and sincerity. They all wanted to be there. It showed law enforcement and prosecutors really care. They were the highest ranking people along with some regular officers. It really dispelled that tired old notion about a government that doesn’t care.”

Burke says no one wants to see another death like Princess Diana and everyone knows it’s coming.

“It’s going to be a pedestrian,” he says. “Probably a mother and a daughter.” He says people showed up for the meeting to avert that death and all the car accidents, craziness and dangerous behavior.

Martell, private investigator, says, “This meeting symbolized a unity between government officials, law enforcement officers, private investigators and executive protection agents in an effort to stop the dangerous and reckless acts that have been committed by paparazzi. With strategies now in place, we are prepared to move forward in the apprehension and conviction of those who violate the new law.”

Meeting prompts strategy

Cmdr. Kevin McCarthy, Los Angeles Police Department, says the stronger the legislation gets the better to where taking a chance is no comparison to the reward. He says the laws up until now have been traffic violations. If you can take a picture of Jennifer Anniston getting out of her car in a skirt and sell it for $25,000, a $300 ticket for a traffic infraction isn’t going to deter someone from trying to get that photo.

The commander describes the PRI Paparazzi Roundtable as “a good conversation.” He says talking to members of private security quashed some of the things they (the police) thought were happening and security brought interesting comments.
McCarthy says regarding the prosecutors at the meeting, “They are big on this and proud of what they have, but they need a lot of evidence. It’s more the kind of evidence that security (and private investigators) can provide.”

Enforcement has been difficult without the videotape and eye witness accounts that private investigators and security may soon provide to law enforcement toward a conviction. For example, Los Angeles is a big city: Celebrities can pull over, call 911, but by the time police arrives there’s only a story and no paparazzi, says McCarthy.

“It is a public safety issue. Speeding, running lights, double parking, it’s a quality of life. It’s important to us. We have families that drive the same streets they (celebs) do.”

Sgt. Joe Jakl, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose jurisdiction includes Malibu, Calabasas, Hidden Hills and other areas frequented by celebrities says, “It was a very good meeting. It was great getting all these players involved and creating communication between entities. The paparazzi will find their little loopholes in the new law and by having this dialogue we can find those loopholes.

“This is a public safety issue. It’s not only putting the celebrity in danger to get that million dollar shot. They are abandoning their cars in the street to get that shot. The paparazzi are very, very brave.”

He says also that part of the safety issue sometimes becomes the celebrities themselves: When they realize they are being pursued, they accelerate and it doubles the chances of something going terribly wrong.

AB 2479 and the meeting are a step in the right direction, he says, and a foot in the door to legislation that can still be improved.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department will respond to calls, dispatch a unit or have the caller come into the station if nearby.
Considered by some as the experts on paparazzi in California, Lt. Mark Rosen, traffic bureau commander, Beverly Hills Police Department, also spoke at the meeting and says it was very good, very productive and a good start.

“The paparazzi is an important and timely issue in Beverly Hills. We’re not targeting a specific (working) class. The paparazzi have the right to work, the right to earn a living and the celebrities need them for their careers. Any negativity at all revolves around public safety. We encounter paparazzi almost daily and it’s not always a negative contact.

Our job is not to get in between paparazzi and the celebrities. We look to are they conducting things in a lawful way, are they breaking any laws or threatening public safety?”

Rosen says AB 2479 is a new element and an enhancement to existing law. Unlike infractions, that require an officer witness a violation to enforce the law, AB 2479 gives celebrities and their security a chance to document a case after the incident and make a crime report.

“An infraction needs to be witnessed by an officer to make a report. A misdemeanor crime is subject to an arrest. A private person can make an arrest,” he says.

The Beverly Hill Police Department, meanwhile encourages pursued celebs to pull over and dial 911. The department will send someone or the celebrity can temporarily enter a safety zone at the department.

“We don’t want people getting into fights or high speed chases.”

Prosecutors seek slam dunk

Violations by the paparazzi may occur anywhere in Los Angeles. The roundtable discussion brought all of the folks into one room to brainstorm over the issues, says Matthew Schonbrun, deputy city attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
“It’s an issue everyone is concerned over. You think about the Princess Diana tragedy. It was horrible and tragic and could have been prevented. In a room full with a lot of big shots it all comes down to deterring behavior,” says Schonbrun.
Jeanine Percival Wright is a civil litigator in the Entertainment and Media group at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. where she represents well-known celebrities and other talent in a wide variety of entertainment-industry disputes.

“They (the prosecutors) are looking for a good slam dunk case to set a good precedent,” she says.

Wright wanted to know what her clients and their private security could gather as evidence, such as videotape, to help their cases the most and also to learn her clients’ rights. She has clients who are frustrated by the paparazzi’s reckless driving. Wright wanted to ask prosecutors if the new law will be enforced and since there are heightened penalties when children are involved, would the prosecution seek the higher penalties for an expectant mother.

The city attorney’s office responds to public safety. “I take it seriously,” says Schonbron. “It’s going to require one or two successful prosecutions before it starts to have a deterrent effect. Law is written by lawyers and legislators but proving it to a jury I have to have enough evidence to pass their scrutiny. Once a violator is charged with a crime—if the goal is to prevent this type of crime then a judge and jury will help them avoid it.”

Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman, who declined comment, assured those present that the county will get a case and evaluate it, but prosecutors want something that is going to be rock solid, says Sgt. Jakl from the meeting.
Wright says it’s frustrating. She says that she believes many of the new paparazzi are not citizens, use fake names, false identification, and are hired as independent contractors. Many are known to be territorial, with a good number coming from Brazil and spending their free time practicing mixed martial arts. They are big, scary guys she says, who follow her clients incessantly, learning every intimate detail about their schedules, families, and friends—even their children’s pre-schools and nanny’s addresses.

She says the meeting was fantastic. “It was a historic representation of all the different law enforcement agencies. The City of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, they don’t usually get to talk to each other.”

Andrew Wallet, co-conservator of Britney Spears’ estate, says he was very surprised at the gathering; Law enforcement recognizes there is a problem and it’s difficult to prosecute and convict.

Of his own experience with paparazzi he says, “We know who they are. We know who they work for. They are endangering the public and people we care about.

“They are thugs with cameras. We’ve seen them driving up on the sidewalk and almost hitting pedestrians or almost hitting other cars. We’ve seen them trespass, open doors and gates, and they hide under being the press. They are not the press.”
It is important that law enforcement is focused to do something, he says. There will be a case. There will be a prosecution and that will stop them.

“It’s unacceptable criminal behavior. No matter the celebrity, no one should be subject to that. Anyone in the public around doing these things they are doing—it’s a public concern.”

It’s not just weaving in and out of traffic, jumping onto curbs, or chasing celebrities at high rates of speed. Martell, owner of Martell Investigations, who works closely with Black Box Security, the agency that protects Spears, says Black Box captured video last year of a paparazzo using his right foot to steer his vehicle while he held a camera with both hands to photograph a celebrity.