How the Paparazzi Do It

September 29, 2010

Howard got paparazzo Karl Larsen on the line to discuss his work. Karl said he got his start after snapping a picture of Paris Hilton crying in her car–a big moneymaker: “It depends on your agency…within, you know, like 10 minutes of sending it to them, it was on CNN,,”

Howard asked how much the picture made him, but Karl refused to be specific: “With a picture like that, you can make a year’s salary in a day.”

Howard wondered how there was any money to be made in the paparazzi swarms he sees on TMZ: “What if every guy gets the same stupid picture?”

Karl admitted the scrums aren’t a good spot for exclusive photographs: “It can eat into your money.”

Karl said the big money these days was in video–not photographs: “And if you’re doing video, you have to think of really good questions…what would [TMZ] want to buy?”

The Infamous Mel Gibson Disguise

Karl said he was the guy who recently videotaped Mel Gibson in a lame disguise–he left a paying gig when word got out that Mel might be down the street: “I go, ‘I’ll come back and finish the photo shoot.'”

Karl said he didn’t dare tell his ‘legit’ clients about his paparazzo side gig: “No no–that would freak them out. They just don’t understand it, you know?”

Karl said he first shot video of Mel’s ridiculous ‘disguise,’ a fake mustache, glasses, prosthetic nose–even a pillow stuffed in his shirt for a faux-‘beer belly.’ When Mel spotted Karl following him a little later, he confronted him–and Karl was ready, asking: “Are you at least embarrassed? Did you really hit a woman?”

Howard tried to price the footage, but Karl evaded the question again: “We don’t know yet. We still have to tally everything up…over a hundred grand, I’m sure.”

The Paparazzo Code

Karl said some celebrities are able to use the paparazzi to their advantage, citing Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale as examples: “They’re sweethearts. They smile and wave…the photographers that usually shoot that family use a long lens.”

When newbie paparazzi swarm in close, the regular paparazzi will protect the couple: “There’s sort of like a little mafia there.” Karl said the first rule of ‘Paparazzi 101’ was “You don’t want to confront anybody. You just want them to dig their own hole.”