The first time I took part in the LensCulture photo competition (https://www.lensculture.com/), with my first series of photographs from
the 'I am your mirror' project, I received positive feedback on my photography work, despite not winning.
LensCulture offers the opportunity to request a review of your work, which pleased me. They complimented me and suggested I follow some photographers to enhance my skills. One of them was Richard Renaldi, a Magnum agency photographer known for his 'Touching Strangers' project. In this project, he pairs up strangers on the street, allowing them to pose as they wish. I was drawn to his work and began following him on social media.
I really liked his work, so I started following him on social media.
Over time, I developed my own unique style. At the time, I was working as a paparazzo on the streets of London, around 2011. This job consumed almost three years of my life, working as a freelancer for agencies like Flynet and Wenn. I was always out on the streets, rain or snow, and nothing could deter me. The hours of waiting were often long and disappointing. Many times, I could't capture photos of celebrities due to various factors, and this was disheartening as this job was my source of income.
Shot in the night, during my search for celebrities in London
I can't quit explain why I chose to be a paparazzo at the time. It was a tough job, and many paparazzi lacked respect for both their peers and the celebrities they pursued.
To them, a photograph, no matter how unflattering, could generate stories or scandals that would pique the interest of gossip magazine readers. My approach was different; I focused on respectful portraits. This made me stand out but also earned me ridicule from my male colleagues. Out of 50 paparazzi, only a few were women, and working in such a male-dominated
Celebrity caught in Camden Town
And many times, it happened that I couldn't take photos of celebrities, because I couldn't find myself in the right place at the right time.
A little for delay, a little for personal difficulties.
I felt very discouraged, because that job was a source of income for me.
I don't know why I chose to be a paparazzo, at that time.
Dita Von Teese at the Savoy Hotel in London
It's really tough. Many paparazzi disrespect peers and celebrities.
Celebrity is money, so any photograph, even the ugliest and most decadent, can build stories or scandals that can spark interest among Gossip magazine readers.
My approach was different; I focused on respectful portraits. This made me stand out but also earned me ridicule from my male colleagues. Out of 50 paparazzi, only a few were women, and working in such a male-dominated environment was challenging. They often treated me rudely and didn't offer support. Some even used aggressive tactics to obstruct my work.
Danny De Vito surrounded by fans
Working as a paparazzo was a pivotal phase in my life, which helped me develop essential skills for approaching people. During that time, I discovered that attracting celebrities' attention was challenging, given my newcomer status in the field. I had to become more assertive and even a bit aggressive to be noticed, particularly because my male colleagues wouldn't provide opportunities. The competition was fierce, and this environment was often violent.
Strangely, this experience provided me with strength, self-confidence, and the courage to step out of my comfort zone and pursue endeavors I previously thought impossible.
Celebrity smiling at me, photographing her in a rainy night