Colin Drummond, the former Producer of TMZ Celebrity News is a leader in the entertainment industry with extensive experience in film production, prominent business connections and a penchant and knack for capturing the everyday actions of fascinating people in the public eye. Drummond is now CEO and founder of a recently launched entertainment news agency dedicated to distributing photographs, video and humanistic news stories about politicians, and celebrities in the Washington, DC arena and worldwide.
Who makes the headlines and how does an entertainment news agency provide up-to-the-minute exclusive video and photos of headlining politicians, celebrities and public officials? Dorothy Dutch asked probing questions of Colin Drummond to get to the heart of the paparazzi phenomena. For those of us who unabashedly enjoy flipping through celebrity photo stories on line or off, it can be even more satisfying if we understand the world of the candid camera.
This interview session is aimed at the journalists who give us our daily doses of unethical behavior, celebrity photos, gossip, news articles, and entertainment news even before prime time entertainment shows enter our living rooms. Drummond’s answers offer a surprising eye view of a world behind the candid cameras of the paparazzi.
Dorothy Dutch: Are paparazzi also writers or mainly just photographers?
Colin Drummond: Most are photographers or former photographers who go on to start their own agencies. They work at a day rate (standard pay for a day). This is known as freelancing. It’s better for them because they still own their images or videos. Most paparazzi are freelance photographers who work for agencies who sell their photos and the agency takes a cut. A good agency has a strong sales team and can get photos on T.V. shows, magazines, billboards, and even inside movie marketing material.
DD: What qualifications must a paparazzo have?
CD: A pap has to have workable camera equipment, knowledge of celebrities, know how to take photos, and be able to ask great questions. For equipment they need plenty of camera gear, a fast SLR camera, a few good lens, (very costly) and a HD Video camera.
DD: Can anyone do it?
CD: Yes and No. Anyone can get lucky and capture a great picture by being in the right place at the right time, but doing it day after day requires hard work and dedication to your craft. DD: The paparazzi are perceived as “pests” to be avoided because they will do anything to get a picture. Are they that bad?
CD: Not really. Those who have been in the business for awhile have good relationships with all the celebrities. They usually know how close they can get to someone or who they need to use their long lens on.
DD: Is it true that they will literally provoke a subject into anger in order to get a more candid, unflattering shot and if not, why do you think the paparazzi are so disliked that fights break out?
CD: No. Fights are usually initiated by overzealous bodyguards or hangers on who really don’t understand the business and think they are helping the stars out. There have been times when bodyguards have even been fired for getting too aggressive
DD: What stars and famous people have you photographed who actually enjoy working with the paparazzi?
CD: Hands down, Tom Cruise, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Hugh Jackman, Larry King.
DD: Which celebrities do you know who want to avoid them?
CD: Gwenyth Paltrow, Scarlett Johanson, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Cher, Barbara Streisand DD: Do politicians on the Washington scene resist photographers?
CD: No, at first politicos didn’t understand the paparazzi game in DC, but now they realize they are public figures and since technology has evolved they should try to use it to their advantage.
DD: Is it different following high level political figures than it is to photograph film and television stars?
CD: Yes, they often look at you as if to ask, “Why are you taking my photo on the streets? I’m no celebrity.” But these days all politicians know they have to be visual to appeal to the younger market and to represent their districts. Some are even flattered that their constituents are seeing them in magazines.
DD: If an agency covers a geographic area like Washington, DC, do the paparazzi follow the celebs and politicians as they leave town or go out of the country?
CD: Not necessarily, but if a politician has a great (hot) story, you can bet that he or she will be tailed. The freelance photographer will pay for his or her own transportation, but if working with an agency, the agency will pay airfare, food and lodging.
DD: Are paparazzi invited to any major events or do they just have to wait around outside until all the celebrities enter or emerge?
CD: Some moonlight and shoot red carpet events, but the real hard core photographers don’t like these functions because they are controlled situations and the photos aren’t worth as much as candid street photos.
DD: I have also heard that they do not care about the laws restricting photographs of celebs to public places. They are willing to pay the fines in order to get great shots. Is this generally the case?
CD: This is not usually true because most know that magazines will not buy photos of celebrities in restricted areas. Agencies also prefer to keep their names in good graces with the celebrities and their public relations people, so agencies will not jeopardize that standing.
DD: Can you tell me about a personal experience you have had with a celeb that you will never forget?
Once I was working on Paul McCartney during his huge divorce scandal. As five other paparazzi where waiting outside his house in NYC Paul just walked out and none of the other five saw him leave. I followed him for about a block and then he stopped and posed for me, thinking those where the photos I wanted. I let him walk through Manhattan without photographing him and he went to have dinner. I just waited outside, and then when he came back outside, he said he had given me the photos so why was I still following him. I said, “Sir Paul, I am not taking anymore photos of you out of respect, but I am working on an assignment for a newspaper in London and they want to know everything you do today”. He started laughing and asked me what newspaper it was, and I told him it was The Daily Mail and he laughed again.
DD: Is there competition from the general public (with all the digital cameras) who are submitting great shots to various publications?
CD: Of course, but the difference is, the general public does not consistently know when or have the patience to take the really great shot. Sometimes you have to let the celebrity do something which the public is waiting to see. For example, a new couple who is rumored to be dating but they keep denying it and the general public sees them in the streets out an about. But, the best photo of them would be taken if the photographer knows to wait until they hold hands, or even kiss. Big Money Shot!