"We had a case where a big star was having lunch at the Ivy with a friend, and the friend ends up calling us [TMZ] because she wanted to get on the Web site." Levin said.
A high-priced photo can mean more than just a hefty payday for the photographer or high status for the subject. A shot of a starlet outside a trendy shop can also do wonders for business.
A case in point is Kitson, a Hollywood boutique that has seen a 20 percent increase in profits since Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears were captured on film outside the store.
Kitson owner Fraser Ross is open about his relationships with several celebrity glossies. His store has become a place where stars come in search of good press. Ross makes sure the photographers get their shots, many of which include his merchandise.
In addition to increased profits at the boutique, Kitson goods are also fetching high prices in Nordstrom and Macy's department stores.
All of this begs the question: Why are the photos worth so much? Why does a candid shot of a top celebrity send magazines flying off the shelves? Levin puts it simply.
"People love celebrities," he said. "We used to only see them on the red carpet. Now, we can show how they live, and it's real. People like that."