Inside the World of the Hollywood Paparazzi


In fact, Navarre has a reputation for occasionally playing fast and loose with the law. For example, California law holds that a person cannot be photographed if a "reasonable expectation of privacy" exists. But, as Navarre sees it, the precise meaning of the words "reasonable expectation" is a subjective matter. For example, he just published photos of Bradley Cooper, one of the lead actors in the recent hit comedy "The Hangover," with his new girlfriend on the balcony of his house.

"We go as far as we can without breaking the laws," Navarre says. "There is a little anarchist in every good paparazzi."

The Intensity of the Moment

Navarre's cell phone rings. "Kim Kardashian just left her place," he reports. Even if, by Hollywood standards, the reality-TV star (with an estimated annual income of $6 million) is merely a B-list celebrity, photos of her will probably still be worth a few thousand dollars for X17.

Navarre hurries to his silver Porsche Cayenne. "She is going down Benedict?" he shouts into the phone, which will not leave his hands anytime soon. "In a white Rolls-Royce?" On Canon Drive, Navarre pulls up just behind the car carrying the star, while one of his photographers pulls up in the next lane, shooting all the while. "Any competitors around?" Navarre shouts through his car's open window. Within seconds, four other paparazzi speed by, running the next red light.

The convoy comes to a stop in front of a small hair salon on South Doheny Drive. Navarre grabs his camera and takes pictures of the shop through its glass front door while his men take up positions outside the back entrance. There are only 10 steps between the door and the car as it is being parked. The photographers have to be quick.

"How do we do this? Stay close to the door or at the car?" Jack Arshamian shouts to his fellow photographers. For months, the Armenian-American has been following Kardashian wherever she goes. "She knows me; she respects my job," says the former chauffeur, who has been working for Navarre for five months. Eventually, when the star steps out of the salon with her hair freshly done, the clicking of camera shutters sounds like machine-gun fire. Questionable Justifications

What is still permitted, and what isn't? Which methods are justified by the growing demand for celebrity photos? Though they pride themselves on their professionalism, even the Splash News photographers will admit to taking part in "gang bangs," the term they use for when a group of photographers launches a surprise attack on a star.

Likewise, all of the "paps," as they call themselves, like to show off by telling somewhat far-fetched stories about their own celebrity-hunting experiences. For example, Banks, the former marksman, speaks of his awe for the driving skills of actress Cameron Diaz, who he claims has routinely managed to outrun the powerful SUVs of the photographers in her Toyota Prius.

However, some of his other stories bring to mind the horrifying accident in Paris that took the life of Princess Diana. To this day, many people consider celebrity photographers to be responsible for her death.

For example, Banks says, up to 40 paparazzi chased singer Britney Spears around when she was embroiled in her divorce battle with Kevin Federline. "If you are following a celebrity," he explains, "you build up a box system, and you tend to drive in a convoy. You don't want members of the public to be at risk."

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