For this weeks edition of First-Person Shooter, we dropped two cameras off with Stan Rozewicz, a paparazzi photographer who's shot photos of celebrities in Manhattan for the past nine years. Stan's captured photos of everybody from Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt to the Obamas and Rihanna.
Every day, Rozewicz rides his bike to celebrity hotspots around the city looking for shots, sometimes with the help of tipsters, in hopes of making some dough from gossip magazines and tabloid who buy his pics from a photo agency he's signed to.
Over the course of the day and evening Rozewicz documented for us, he got shots of Rihanna shopping for designer threads, snowboarder Shaun White with cornrows, and Meg Ryan leaving her hotel. He also took photos of his fellow paparazzi, who often move as a pack, waiting for celebrities to emerge in swanky neighborhoods. Here's how Rozewicz's day went.
VICE: What happened during your day?
Stan Rozewicz: I started the day around 10:30–11 AM at the Bowery Hotel, where I waited to see if anybody was going to come out. I sat there for a couple of hours and snapped a few photos of Shaun White and Meg Ryan. When lunchtime hit, I went to go check out some hot restaurants around the East Village, SoHo, and Tribeca looking for celebrities eating. I ate lunch and waited in a place where there is heavy celebrity traffic in the West Village. Then I started biking around downtown checking out other hotels like Greenwich Hotel and Mercer Hotel, as well as shopping spots on Lafayette Street and West Broadway, the latter where I saw Rihanna. I checked back in at the Bowery Hotel to see if any celebrities were arriving that night. After work I went home and watched a movie.
What kind of people do you normally photograph?
Celebrities. You make the most money off the big stories like a wedding or new celebrity relationship, but if you work as a paparazzi everyday like I do, you have to go for fashion sightings to see what brands celebrities are wearing in order to have a steady income.
Who pays you for the photos?
I send them to an agency. The agency does their best to sell them. At the beginning of every month, they send me a sales report of all my photos that sold.
What kind of camera do you use?
I use a Nikon D4 with sigma 100-300mm f4. I used to have the 2.8 version but it got too heavy.
How long have you been a paparazzo for?
I started when I was 20. I actually quit school for it. It's been my job for nine years.
Did you go to school for photography?
No. I went to law school.
What's the best way to sneak up on a celebrity to snap their photo?
I don't think there is one best way. It all depends on what's happening in the situation you're in when you see somebody. It depends how people around you are reacting. Some celebrities don't mind being photographed and others you have to hide from a little bit more. I try to take most of my photos on a long telephoto lens and not be seen at all.
Has any celebrity ever freaked out at you?
People yell at me from time to time. Cameron Diaz has yelled at me multiple times. I feel like it's part of the business of being famous. They have to deal with it and they know what they're getting into. But at the same time I'm also human and I respect certain events in a person's life are sensitive and don't take photos. I'm not into shooting people when they're sick or when somebody dies or anything like that. It's too much.
Paparazzi are often viewed in a negative light. Do you believe celebrities have a right to privacy?
Almost nobody becomes famous on accident. It takes a lot of hard work and is almost always a very calculated ascent to fame. I feel that these celebrities know what they're getting themselves into and are also prepared to accept the consequences.
What do you do during down time while working?
Most of the day is downtime because photographing doesn't take very much time at all. It's a lot of waiting.
Do you have informants?
We call them tipsters. I always give my phone number to people hoping they'll give me tips, but it's hard. People always tell me they see celebrities, but they don't call.
I see all male paparazzi in the photos you took. Do you know any female paparazzi?
There's a woman that works mostly on Rihanna, but she wasn't there on the day I shot her with the disposables. There are a few other women shooting as paparazzi, but it seems they do more red carpet-oriented events.
What do you do when you're not working?
I shoot street photography around New York City. Check out my street photos on my Instagram.