Artifying the paparazzi tradition


The word paparazzi denotes a complete world in itself of both notorious and popular perception. The very mention of the word entails a series of ‘charms’ with in- derived of course from the starry crowd of what defines their entire gallery of works. For all its reception in part excitement, part anguish though, paparazzi photography still is an art, and no lesser one indeed in that occurring.

In the greater disregard of them though, the notion of its identity as a photographic art is non assertive. This might seem to be something innate to the very existence of it as a genre of photography actively seeking out celebrities and public personas. After all the very term paparazzi is a derivation upon a certain Italian world that alludes to an annoying sound. With the very premise of its coming to be as a concept thus named, it should not be any surprising that the suffix photography is avoided in describing this ‘specialised’ fore over which the camera pans.

With no definite intention therefore in attributing any aspect of this identity the distinction of being artistic, the paparazzi phenomenon has remained just that- a weirdly unpopular and equivalently popular instance of what sums up perhaps the very fickleness of the human being.

keanu reeves sad photo papped
Source: Vanity Fair

But that the power of the paparazzi could not be yielded without the medium of their lenses is reason enough for it to occur as a claim upon the wide expanse of photography. The practice begun in all evidence of its intruding essence sometime during the 1950-60s and has persisted since through this run of (un)reason. Paparazzi generally tend to be independent photographers who are constantly peering into the normal life of high profile personalities to capture generally unflattering, or even scandalous pictures of them. It is a form of commercial photography indeed since the pictures are sold to such media agents that market sensationalism as part of their own journalism art.

But many other types of commercial photography still hold on to their primary identity of being art and paparazzi photography needs not be an exception. However the critical question of privacy that creeps into this specific consideration of chasing after celebrities is what had forever painted an unappealing image of paparazzi. In this stream of consciousness- or the lack of it thereof, paparazzi would hardly qualify as photographers in the artistic sense of the term.

Considering however an alternate reality has the light shining brighter in depicting also the specks of artistry managing to nestle somewhere in this realm of the obnoxious. This parallel occurring though would be an obscured phenomenon in that it rarely ventures into the trails of public popularity. But that it persists still as a valid identity in this regard is what curates for paparazzi photography a course not somewhat flamboyant in its treading.

paparazzi photography
Source: Widewalls

For all its reliance on such tactics and techniques that aid the purpose in stealthily capturing unexpected moments of celebrity existence, this photographic practice cannot be denied at least in the innovativeness of its pursuit. Spurring through this account also quite some difference in the world of fine art has been this oft critiqued cameraic correspondence. Some of the essential requirements of paparazzi photography have transcended the scientific art to find place within the precincts of fine art. In lending some of its self therefore to the explorative evolution of one form of art at least, the paparazzi classification within photojournalism should not be totally denied the repute of its primary essence.

The assuming of definite identities like faux- paparazzi shots have only asserted the distinction of it as occurring somewhere within the considerations of the artistic. How else would one explain such emergences of what actively dwells upon and employs thus tactics through which photographers come to court their paparazzi identity? To the extent that the photos adhering to this lens of their imaging celebrate the essential humanness of exalted celebrities and stars, paparazzi photography should occur as even more of an art that it is not deemed to be.

Paparazzi photographs humanify indeed public personalities always viewed through rose tinted glasses that the common masses find themselves almost forcedly putting on. And therein should rest the charm of this specificness of photography and also hence the artistic quality of their being, in challenging then the norms of both conventional propriety and the posed or staged aspect of what photography thrusts upon. Out and out informal indeed, or let’s say casual if you should, and some specimens of which also have regularly ‘featured’ artistic superiority as well as evident through different stages of recent history, paparazzi photography is decent almost a rendition of the skill that photography taps into to conjure up its widely appreciated beauty.

art of paparazzi photography
Source: BBC

The only problem that seems to be the case in this regard is the possible- or even definite infringement of privacy which again is some sort of an ‘art’ in its interpretation being as widely personal as possible. No wonder then the many snaps of what shows up as works of this particular nuisance of society display diverse character despite them being born out of the same desire in celebrity spotting and snapping. The victims of some of these captures take on an altogether different identity as models instead in others, making this form of masquerading occur as yet another argument in favour of this photographic form to not be completely stripped off its integral essence.

To be even more resolute in such claim thus of paparazzis too deserving some quarter of the fame of artistic regard would be the translation they find at a later period of time. The casualness of what they embody and the associated realness of them therefore has meant that such unholy encounters with intruding cameras bears a weird capability of transposing as works of art in potential repute. Not to mention how paparazzis bring (free) publicity for celebrities- which to be exact is even cleverly devised a scheme of art to say, and writing off paparazzi photography irrespective of its distinction as art or not should not occur anytime soon.

kendall jenner asap rocky papped
Source: The Cut

To concentrate still on its status as being artistic enough and paparazzi seems to fit into this validated fore of identity chased after even in the purported darknesses of it. Such photographs as are captured in intentions of serving an existing demand, of an essential curiosity accounting for considerable a chunk of our human nature peers into the true desires of our being that almost need to occur as somewhat stimulating in both physical and emotional representation of our identity as mere mortals. And that it does attend so subserviently to this exact want in pressing only further renders it the airs of what art generically vibes in.

What manifests also is a contrast of sorts in the way that pap photography has been received as through the times, with such views that dwell everytime on the artisticness of what had been or even what would come to be over the current elocution of them as such. While the glamour and character of such photographs as occurred in the very beginnings of the genre is what elevates them as art, it is the fluid nature of its contemporary ‘transgression’ thus of crossing over as well to other categories not even falling somewhere along the camera’s line of vision that stands up for the current mode of its artistic conduct. To be fair then, paparazzi photography always has been an art indeed in its mere emergence through the route of flair, the ‘morality’ of which might be doubted but the character of which will never cease to even in falling prey to substandard human expectations of the artsy.