papreform It is a notorious issue that the paparazzi  are getting completely out of hand in Los Angeles and its surrounding. It is even getting ridiculous. What used to be a loner sport for those looking for a rewarding exclusive shot has now become a gang like activity. There are probably more photographers waiting outside a store than they are at a Hollywood premiere. Long gone is the possibility of an exclusive, let alone a good picture. The British invasion of the early century has led to the “in your face, 28mm, flash” street photography. Thus it has become a war of who can get the closest.

It has now reached a level of absurdity and danger. Absurdity, because the value of these images are stumbling down as more and more agencies are entering the field, including Getty, hoping for financial salvation. Dangerous, because someone will get badly hurt, if not die, very soon. Those car chases with kids in the car ( for what, exactly, I am not sure), are completely irresponsible.

Apparently, a group of concerned citizen have decided to take the matter into their own hands. Called the Paparazzi reform Initiative, the group has launch a website that sheds the light on their activity and asks ( demand ?) for a code of conduct. Doubtful that it well have any impact on these guys’ conduct ( seen any woman paparazzi ?)  but it could get enough traction to make a difference.  Their demand is quite simple. They would like all media to abide by the Human Privacy and Respect in the Media Code:

No photos or video of children shall be printed or broadcast or displayed without the written consent of the parent.

No photos or video of any person clearly in distress or injured shall be printed or broadcast or displayed without the individual’s written consent.

No photos or video of individuals clearly participating in a private matter such as a vacation, exercise, eating, at school, at home, at a funeral or involved in a family activity shall be printed or broadcast or displayed without the written consent of the individuals involved.

Obviously, this code could also  apply to war/disaster photographers who would have a hard time doing their jobs if they were to abide by it. A printable PDF is attached to the site so you can send it to your favorite media outlet and show your support.

Author: pmelcher


  1. Your only error is to accuse the “British Invasion” and their short lenses as the start of the problem. I think Ron Gallela had wide angles, flash and close proximity as weapons of mass intrusion in the 60’s. I am as concerned as you are that someone will get hurt. I am a co owner of a Photo Agency that concentrates on celebrity and other photo stories that have value in the media. The issue is complex, you only have to see video of the ” Responsible Media” covering a story like Monica Lewinsky or more recently the return of a Los Angeles mother and daughter to LAX from a trip to Russia where the daughter got poisoned just to see the “Responsible Media”, which included LA Times, AP, NBC,CBS and ABC can also go nuts but at least most of them had media credentials. A credential would be a start, problem is who would pay to process & issue the credential ? Enforcing a distance limit would also help, like 15 ft ? Enforcing homeland security laws to make sure the individual who is taking the photos has a legal right to work in the United States. ( There are visas that allow foreign nationals to cover media events in the USA) I do not see how protecting certain people from being photographed would work, to many bad people would take advantage of the protection. We could try and re educate the World so they only want to know about serious issues and not trivia ( that was of course a joke) Personally I think you need to get all the main employers and syndicators of the content together to see if a code of conduct could be agreed upon. The problem is how do you enforce the code of conduct if an individual decides to break the rules to get a better, closer shot, and once again this is not a problem unique to celebrity photographers. For many years I worked alongside Pulitzer Prize winning AP Photographer Nick Ut who’s number one choice of lens is a wide angle and number one choice of position is in front of everyone else ! His Pulitzer suggests his techniques have merit.

  2. Author

    Ron Gallela only worked in NY. His “technique” was like Nick Ut’s. British photographers jump on their target in order to kill the story for other photographers. Not only to show the celebrity they are stalking that there are photographers in the area but also to block the frame of any other photographer that happens to be further away.
    That technique has been important from the UK and has led to the current situation. If everyone was hiding in the bushes, like they are supposed to, than no one would get hurt. And the pictures would be much better.

  3. Author

    I’m not a paparazzi, but I am a news photographer. Codifying these “reforms” would have a chilling effect on traditional and legal news-gathering, which is already being eroded. There are unintended consequences of this initiative, and they have disturbing implications for the First Amendment rights.
    The solution to the problem, however, is simple. Organizations who pay for and who publish material like this need to stop paying for and using it. Until then, accountability remains, more appropriately, with the deep-pockets editors and publishers who decide to release these images, not with the lowly photographer who takes them. By creating and sustaining market forces that reward the acquisition of images by extreme measures, publishers are fueling the problem.
    To limit legitimate news-gathering spells trouble for democratic societies who rely on it to report on more matters more consequential than the comings and goings of today’s tabloid darling.

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