Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Policing the Paparazzi

Getting pictures or videos of celebrities has become a huge industry. There's big money in it. The demand for these images continues to grow. The competition has gotten so intense in recent years that people have been killed and seriously injured by photographers willing to put others in danger so they can get the shot.

I recently saw a video taken from a camera phone, of George Clooney stopping and confronting a photographer who had run a red light and swerved out of his lane to get a picture.

It occurs to me that there are at least two good approaches to this situation. One is to turn the cameras around. Today's technology enables cameras to be installed just about anywhere. When you go out in public, record it from your perspective. Get them on film when their behavior is outrageous. You could probably hire someone for around 80K a year to handle the whole thing for you. The other is to have a personal videographer. Establish your own archive of images and videos of you, by your employees. They of course have a big advantage over the competition because they'd know exactly where you were going, why, and when you'd be there. They'd get better pictures and reduce the value of the competition's shots.

Transparency is a good thing. The knowledge that your behavior is being observed presents a challenge to behave in manner you wont regret. But to put the observations in context, the information should flow both ways. I wouldn't regret punching a guy in the nose for sticking a camera lens in my face, but a third party would interpret my behavior differently if all they saw was the punch in the nose.

Celebrities could take advantage of the current imbalance in the recording of events surrounding them by collecting, editing and selling their own imagery from their own perspective.

Use the market (you know that evil capitalist thing) to your advantage. I'd much rather watch the lengths some loser will go to in order to get a picture of somebody eating lunch than watch the person eating lunch.

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