Professional photographers say paparazzi is out of Control

Professional photography services and wire services reps speak out about their industry at EPPS workshop in Hollywood.

Professional photography services and wire services reps speak out about their industry at EPPS workshop in Hollywood.

“It is out of control and we do not want people stealing our photos,” said Stewart Cook, photographer, Rex USA, at an Entertainment Publicists Professional Society (EPPS)

workshop recently (3-19-09). The event was sponsored by International Cinematographers Group Local 600 publicists, Hollywood.

“We have watermarks, but once a magazine publishes our photos and posts it Online, we are constantly finding people ripping it off,” said Kathy Hutchins, president, Hutchins Photo.  

“Magazines still want beautiful pictures, but they also want something different,” said Sara De Boer, photographer, Retna, a photo service.

 “It is an interesting time we are in, and it may take years before we learn what format is best to preserve or protect our photos Online,” said Sam Mircovich, editor-in-charge, Global Entertainment Pictures, Thomson Reuters News Pictures. Thomson Reuters is the world’s largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news and business news. It also provides entertainment images and stories from Hollywood Reporter often end up on Reuters Wire services.

 “We are subscription based internationally, so when photos hit the wire, they hit thousands of AP members globally, instantly,” said Associated Press Television (APTV)’s Guinevere Smith, Natn’l Entertainment Photo-Ed. “We work with publicists to understand your needs, and we work with staff photographers on the editorial side as well as contributing freelance photographers. AP work to achieve your goals as well as our (breaking news).”

 The Associated Press covers half of the globe with a bureau in nearly every city in the

World. AP is an international news organization offering news, photos, graphics, audio and video for 1,700 U.S. newspapers and 6,000 broadcast outlets around the world. There are more than 240 bureaus worldwide representing 121 countries. It features a massive digital network, a continuously updated online news service, a television news service and one of the largest radio networks in the United States.  

 “The pictures illustrate the story, and we are much like AP, but offer a little different services, “ said Mircovich.  “Reuters like the Associated Press, is one of the oldest wire services in the world, and I think there is a constant battle over who is older AP or us. I think we started around 1853. Reuters News Pictures is part of a larger company called Thomson Reuters, because were purchase last year by a data provider Thomson out of Canada,” he said.

“Our clients are newspaper and Online customers, explained Mirovich. “We supply (content) to many of the websites you see on the Internet. But what sets us a part from AP is we also provide data services and news to professionals on a subscription basis. We have  products for the legal side, for medical and financial clients as well. The photographs and data are all packaged in the subscription through a web browser. Entertainment plays a big part, because we report on the movie studios and conglomerates. The pictures help illustrate these stories. So we are the same as AP, but a little more targeted and different,” said Mircovich.

“We are a photo agency specializing in entertainment, some news and our client base goes anywhere from subscriptions to magazine sales,” said Kathy Hutchins, president, Hutchins Photo, LA. Other professional services charge a fee to become member to protect their watermarked images. “Everything in entertainment can be found on our site, but once it gets into magazines it is hard to protect them,” said Hutchins.  “You have to be a member, and pay a fee, which is how we track who is using our photos, and we have disabled the downloading feature for nonmembers.”

 “We are losing control of our photos and after they are published in magazines they get copied by bloggers and others Online,”  said Stewart Cook, Photographer, Rex USA, which is Britain’s largest privately-owned agency with offices in New York, LA and which has a network of 600 photographers around the world. It has owned by the Selby’s for 60 years. “We specialized in entertainment, but we are also strong in features that range from one-legged skate boarding jocks to features on the military in Iraq.  We are one of two agencies that syndicate for the Ministry of Defense. We supply web print and video much like everyone else with one of the largest libraries.”

 “I used to have a large staff, but when everything changed to digital, it wasn’t  economically feasible to continue the model, so I am by myself now,” said Sara De Boer, Photographer, Retna, LA.

“So now I am syndicated domestically and also syndicate to Sunday editions (publications) worldwide. I provide photo services of events, parties and celebrities. I also do a fair amount of work with the soap opera stars, and I really enjoy that. I do as many red carpet events as I can, and I am one of the most affected by digital photography changes and significantly impacted by the paparazzi.”  

At least two of the panelist said that many of the paparazzi are hired by gangs for as little as a $100 a day to hang out and shoot pictures of a breaking news events or celebrites.

All photo services, Associated Press, Reuters and especially the smaller operations like to be pitched for events by email. “99 percent of what I do is by email, and when I get a fax I think ‘hmm this isn’t global green is it,” said De Boer.

The photography professional services and wire photo services experts offer these tips for publicists:

  • Do not use vinyl as a backdrop, because it reflects a lot of light
  • Be aware of your lighting, especially on red carpet events; one spotlight is not enough
  • Show up early with lesser know clients at events; they will shoot most everyone if time permits
  • Advise your clients to wear color, avoiding solid white or black outfits
  • Advise clients not to cross their legs when posting (fashion especially)
  • Remember flashes pierce sheer black
  • Go ahead of your client with a client name in large, bold type for ID
  • Stay out of the photos; mnay photogs are shooting long lenses down the carpet
  • Be aware when a “A” list star is approaching, step back. Resume when they have passed
  • Have a realistic space for press cleared; 12” per position is minimum, 18” is preferred
  • Be honest with tip sheets; photogs would rather have surprises than disappointments
  • Check-in time should be accurate, not an hour before you intend to check in
  • Communication if you are marking placement for photos in press area
  • All events are not equal; Photos will support small events if given access to the “good” ones
  • Avoid “set decoration” feeling; don’t change colors on various background be consistent
  • Put photogs first on a press line; flow is proven to be better
  • Keep Photo, TV and Print in separate areas; some TV-B-roll like to work behind photogs
  • Stanchions should be at least 7 feet from the backdrop; Risers should be 18” back and 12 ‘ high
  • Allow room under rises to store equipment, bags, etc
  • If you have no risers, say so on tip sheet as most photogs have step stools or ladders
  • Backdrops should be cloth, not glossy plaster; grey or blue works best
  • Be aware of who works for whom; avoid more than one photog per agency in limited space

To contact any of the professional photography services:

Stewart Cook;
Mary Allison, ET Assignments., AP LA”;

Sara De Boer –; Kathy Hutchins –;

Sam Mircovich –;  


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