I don’t really know what any of my friends do. I know where they work, but what they actually do is seriously a complete mystery. So I decided to find out. Here’s profile number one: my mate Gemma.
Occupation: Photo-desk and Sales Manager at Celebrity Photo Agency.
How did you get into this industry?: Fluke. Gushed over Britney Spears in my cover letter. Might have a little something to do with my Media and Marketing degree.
Give us a little ‘Day in the life of’ spiel: Firstly can I just say that millions of women around the world consistently believe that magazine life is quite glamorous. The Devil Wears Prada should’ve knocked that out of them, if not – there is nothing glamorous about getting up at 4.30 am looking like you’ve been punched in both eyes with hair looking like you’ve been having sex all night (you haven’t, you’re too tired) only to look at hundreds of images of perfect looking specimens: that’s you fucking Victoria’s Secret Angels.
A typical day begins with a trawl through celebrity blogs. The Daily Mail online, People online, Just Jared, my personal favourite for comedy value: wwtdd.com. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to check that vile Perez Hilton blog. In an industry with a very blurry view of standards, I maintain this one vigorously (the blog is mean to my girl, Jen Aniston).
Then it’s selling photos time. Weekly magazines pay quite a bit of money for pictures of celebrities especially if they are ‘exclusive’ or ‘interesting’. ‘Interesting’ is things like bikini shots, new couples, cellulite, skinny, drunk, white substance in nostrils. ‘Exclusive’ are photos where only one paparazzi was present – therefore making the images more valuable as only one magazine can publish those particular images. In these above instances images are bid on like an auction. Held by me. It’s quite fun.
An example of a super expensive shot: I think the photo above went for $300,000 – it was Brad and Ang on set of Mr and Mrs Smith flirting at the water cooler whilst he was still married to Jennifer Aniston.
This selling takes up the majority of the day, though in the meantime upwards of 10,000 new images are coming in on our servers from all over the world. The team process these images and determine whether they will go out to buy as single shots or to be bid on.
While this is taking place – we also maintain our relationships with clients (lunches/dinners/phone calls to shoot the shit), maintain our relationships with our suppliers (emails/assurances that their images are the best in the world). I also look after arranging photographers for local events and premieres, read: go to parties and get free booze.
It’s a fun and exciting job, but like any job it can be a drag. Sometimes – generally during award season like now – celebrities don’t leave their houses (potentially due to lack of energy from fasting to fit into evening gowns) and it’s quite boring. It’s also high pressure and terrible hours. The pressure comes from Meryl Streep like characters wanting your set of photos that are slowly bidding to be in their magazine. Stat. And boy do the claws come out. I’d recommend someone wanting to get into the photo industry to have no qualms with early starts and late finishes, to like celebrities a lot, like really really really like them, to have a good marketing eye and to enjoy food. Because contrary to popular belief that we are all skinny, we all pretty much live for the 12.30ish call of ‘what’s everyone having for lunch?’
Finally I just want to add, in our industry’s defense: celebrities are not stalked – they covet ‘celebrity’. If they didn’t want to be seen, they wouldn’t go to Nobu, The Grove, The Ivy, The Opening of an Envelope, call the paps before they leave the house etc. How often do you see pap shots of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem?
Pros: Knowing ALL the gossip before it’s in the magazines. Getting magazines for free.
Cons: Dreaming about Katie Holmes going on a camping trip with Tobey Maguire in Jellystone Park. Being accused of contributing to the death of Princess Diana.