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How Does Paparazzi Know Where Celebrities Are? (5 Ways They Do It)

How Paparazzis Know Where Celebrities Are

At the most basic level, paparazzi hang out on the streets and in public places waiting for an opportunity to photograph a star. In public, the paparazzi can snap away unrestricted by laws. But for a paparazzo who wants to earn the big bucks, this method is far too inefficient; he must make sure he’s in the right place at the right time to get the shot.

What is a Paparazzi?

The word paparazzi originated from the 1960s film “La Dolce Vita,” after the film’s character Paparazzo, a news photographer.

A paparazzo’s job is photography, but a particular type of photography: their source of living is photos of high-profile individuals like celebrities, politicians, and other famous folks. The photos have to be of good quality so that media outlets can use them.

5 Ways Paparazzi Know Where to Find Celebrities

  1. Hanging around residents and popular hangouts of celebrities
  2. Having a network of spies and spotters
  3. Tipping Bartenders and Waiters for information
  4. Taking Note of Regular Routes of Celebrities
  5. Getting location Information from close friends of celebrities

Note that the most valuable photos are those taken when no other paparazzi is around – which simply entails that half of a paparazzo’s job is finding how to find these celebrity figures.

Indeed, this requires cultivating a network of local workers who can call in tips if they see someone famous, and paying them for the tip-off when things work out. It also involves becoming quite familiar with the territory: understanding roads and routes, finding out which restaurants and shops celebrities like to frequent, and even where celebrities live in the city.

Have it in mind that most high-quality paparazzi photos are sold to a celebrity photo agency, who then sells that image to a media network. A paparazzo also has to keep a good working relationship with their agency and understand what the magazines, journals, and tabloids – which are the end customers – are really looking for.

Even though the paparazzi industry has changed dramatically since the 1960s, it still involves a lot of waiting around, like a hunter in a deer stand, his gun at the ready. Note that through watching, waiting, and possibly paying off valet attendants, shop clerks, restaurant hosts, and others, paparazzi can gradually learn about a celebrity’s habits and anticipate their activities.

Indeed, this paparazzi lifestyle has also evolved into its own minor tourist attraction. For a fee, Los Angeles visitors can fulfill their celebrity obsession and go hunting for the big shots. The inception of the Internet has also affected how paparazzi hunt down their prey.

As the celebrity photography industry has grown more complicating, a symbiotic relationship has also developed among agents and public relations managers and the paps.

You have to understand that an individual paparazzo is only limited by his or her resources, craftiness, and nerve. Industry competition makes little or no room for excuses, which is why celebrity photographers tread a fine line between the public and private, getting as close – and sometimes dangerously close – as they can to their targets.

Even though celebrities are public figures, which legally lets paparazzi to snap their photos on the street and auction for exorbitant sums without prior approval, the rules change when it comes to private property.

Paparazzi are always expected to respect property laws restricting them from camping outside bedroom windows or barging into restaurants and taking a table next to celebrity couples. Instead, they often wait outdoors until their targets inevitably make an exit, which, some argue, is just as intrusive.

Howbeit, once in public, paparazzi are allowed to surround celebrities, galloping all over their cars or cabs like buffaloes. Roving bands of paparazzi consisting of drivers, photographers, and spotters (who keep an eye out for the famous) may descend upon stars, forming a triangle around targets to ensure that someone gets a clear frame no matter what.

Simple Tips to Remember as a Paparazzi in this Modern Age

Being paparazzi is a lot more difficult than it might seem at first. That is why before venturing into this kind of business, you need to make sure you are familiar with everything it involves. Here are some tips to aid you along the way.

  1. Celebrities Have Symbiotic Relationships With You

Maybe not always, but the relationship between celebrities and paparazzi are pretty symbiotic, meaning that the majority of celebrities will want to work with you, mainly because they can also benefit from your photos by getting great exposure.

So if you want to make some connections with them, you need to be aware of the fact that celebrities are just ordinary people.

There are those celebs who have had a really bad day or simply don’t approve of paparazzi, so don’t be pushy with them and expect them to make an exception when it comes to you. If someone doesn’t want you to take their photo, try to take one unnoticed.

  1. The Competition Is Massive

Always remember that the competition in the paparazzi business is fierce. If you are not thick-skinned and really competitive, think twice about whether you are suited for this profession. Note that until you manage to identify your work as top quality and gain some respect from the experts, be prepared for a lot of obstacles and challenges.

In this business, you are expected to stand up for yourself – the majority of your colleagues will be devious and try to get you out of the paparazzi business because it will just mean more work and money for them.

  1. You Require Skills Like a War Photographer

While other types of photography try to focus mainly on being creative and authentic, paparazzi photography is all about technique, so it is easily compared to war photography. What this means is that you are expected to learn how to be quiet, sneaky, and practically invisible when needed.

In addition, you need to have high-quality equipment and learn how celebrities think, where they are going, and what they are interested in.

  1. Be Street Smart

Have it in mind that being street smart in any kind of business is a wonderful and useful asset, however, in the paparazzi business; it is considered to be a key to success. You cannot be good paparazzi unless you are persuasive and have good intuition, detective, and research skills.

  1. You’ Will Need a Spy Network Like The CIA

Note that becoming paparazzi also entails that you need to develop some ninja-like skills. Not only do you need to have people around you who will update you about celebrities’ schedules and serve as your spy network, but you also need to be prepared for a lot of spying yourself, as well as lots of waiting (sometimes for hours and hours, and even days), which all requires immense patience.

  1. Contests Can Help You Get Exposure

Irrespective of the kind of photography style you are into, photo contests can be an ideal way to see if you got what it takes to be successful. Taking part in a photo competition will help you become recognized, enable you to meet other people with similar interests, and make some valuable business relationships which can be beneficial for your future work.

  1. A Single Photo Can Make The Difference

Agreeably, successful paparazzi photographers make crazy amounts of money. One single shot can bring you some serious cash; you can start by practicing on various cool online competitions to win money. If you look at some vintage paparazzi photos, it will be clear that it took a lot of hard work, investment, and a special set of circumstances to get things just right.

To achieve this, your equipment needs to be top quality, so be ready to make large investments. Also, like paparazzi, you will be required to travel a lot in order to find celebrities that you want to take photos of, so this means more spending.


Interest in celebrity culture continues to grow at a massive speed, with new websites, publications, and celebrity photo agencies dedicated to even the minutest details of high-profile people. Howbeit, with the inception of camera phones and online media, the industry is saturated with images, making it harder to succeed with mediocre or ordinary work.