Want to make big money photographing celebrities? Better take a number. While celebrity paparazzi garner plenty of publicity for their relentless pursuit of “the shot”, the millions paid for celebrity babies photos, and the seemingly glorious lifestyle they live, the truth is most paparazzo are just getting by. In a simple case of economics, the celebrity photo market is flooded with images and photographers. Too much supply has diluted the amount of money publishers are willing to pay for everyday images of your favorite celebrity. Don’t get me wrong, there are members of the paparazzi that make a great living doing this type of work, but their numbers have fallen in recent years even as the demand from domestic and foreign publishers has increased. But this increase in demand has been far outnumbered by the number of new photographers entering the market.
How much do paparazzi make? Typically, Paparazzi earn around $250 per shot of A-list celebrities. These are the everyday, garden variety candid shots which are taken with several other photogs in tow. This type of image has high competition, due to it’s non-exclusive nature, driving down the price. While the price doesn’t seem bad, you have to consider the expenses involved, the lost time of hunting down the celebs, and how often you are able to score one of these shots. The more established paparazzi can earn in excess of $500,000 per year, but this comes through developing contacts throughout Tinseltown and other locations, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Keys to being a successful paparazzi.The top performers in this industry come in two forms, a) have a highly developed networks of informants (hairdressers, doorman, etc) which tip off locations and times of where to find the prized celebrities, or b) establish a reputation as a trusted photographer (not my bad side, please) and the celebrity are willing to control how they will appear in the tabloids.
If you thrive on the “thrill of the hunt”, enjoy the “on the go” lifestyle this job requires in pursuit of a lucrative payday, this may be the career path for you!
For more information on Life of the Paparazzi, here’s an interesting read -> The Day I Trailed a Paparazzi
Update – Here’s a great video interview on celebrity paparazzi with photographer Jessica Dimmock