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How to Get a Job as Paparazzi

by Al Stewart, studioD

Working as paparazzi photographer is a highly lucrative job but is also extremely demanding. The job requires that you consistently capture professional-quality photos of celebrities in a variety of situations. Often the subject you attempt to photograph is uncooperative or even hostile to your efforts. Anyone willing and able can become paparazzi. Photographers earn money based on the photos they can sell. Understanding the business, and committing yourself to taking sought-after celebrity photos gets you a job as a paparazzi photographer.

Develop your skills as a photographer and obtain the tools needed to do the job. Many paparazzi favor high quality SLR cameras with an 18mm - 70mm lens, as well as a 70 - 200mm and a 400mm telephoto lens for taking photos from far away. A compact camera for surreptitiously capturing photos in restricted areas comes in handy, as does a reliable flash and battery pack. Become thoroughly familiar with all of your equipment.

Acquaint yourself with the celebrities sought after by tabloid newspapers and magazines. These individuals include movie stars, rap music luminaries, politicians, super models and other prominent newsworthy figures. Recognizing a famous face is necessary for paparazzi. Stay current with trends in pop culture, music and sports. Consider relocating to Los Angeles or New York, two cities that are a mecca for paparazzi.

Identify the agencies and publications that regularly retain the services of paparazzi. X17 Agency, Corbis and Splash News, for example, are among the Hollywood's leading celebrity photo agencies. The National Enquirer, People Magazine and OK! are among the top publications that regularly buy paparazzi photos. These organizations pay a retainer to photographers who consistently provide top quality photos. Submit your best work to demonstrate your abilities. Full-time staff positions are very rare for paparazzi.

Familiarize yourself with locations that yield top quality paparazzi photos. Los Angeles International Airport, the Studio City Farmer's Market and the Ivy Restaurant, for example, are popular west coast locations for celebrity photos. Become acquainted with parking attendants and other employees who might be willing to tip you off in exchange for compensation. Movie and TV shoots require film permits and entertainment trade publications like Variety or The Hollywood Reporter disclose this information.

React quickly and professionally when the opportunity for a paparazzi photo arises. There will likely be jostled, harassed or threatened while trying to do your job. Stay poised and focus both your camera and your attention on the job. Remember that getting a job as a paparazzi depends entirely on your ability to take consistent top-quality photos that sets them apart from your many competitors.

Items you will need
  •  SLR camera
  •  Telephoto lens


  • Obtain press credentials or other professional credentials.
  • Maintaining a professional and friendly demeanor encourages celebrity subjects to cooperate with you.
  • Make a video recording of confrontations with security, or anyone else, who tries to prevent you from doing your job.


  • Never trespass, or otherwise break the law, in pursuit of paparazzi photos. Law enforcement agencies and security personnel often look for any excuse to thwart your efforts.
  • Do not post, or otherwise release, photos without a watermark to protect against unauthorized duplication.
  • Avoid taking photos with packs of paparazzi that swam around subjects, It results in capturing identical photos as your colleagues.

About the Author

Al Stewart's 30-year background as a writer/editor includes staff positions at "Adweek," "Billboard," "Chain Drug Review," "Cable World," "DNR" (men's fashion), "National Floor Trends," and "Variety." A native New Yorker, he is now a writer/editor living in Los Angeles. He has a BA in political science from Wagner College.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images