The Red Carpet
While I always did well covering daily news in New York City, it didn't take me long to figure out that I could pay my bills much easier shooting entertainment. The reason is simple: There's a seemingly unending thirst for celebrity pictures. Here is an example of one celebrity-packed evening in the Big Apple.
On Dec. 1, 2005 I waited for Paris Hilton to appear and she was late. I had to get to the hottest play opening of the fall season, "The Color Purple." She eventually made her appearance at the Virgin Megastore-Times Square, posing in an elegant golden-colored evening dress with her not-so-elegant new book "Your Heiress Diary: Confess It All To Me." On her arm, the teacup Chihuahua Tinkerbell.
Next, I had to find a position at the Broadway Theater to shoot the rest of the celebrity arrivals for the opening night of the play. This theater was next door to the Ed Sullivan and there were marked spots for photographers, most of whom had been in place all day. I wasn't sure I was credentialed because the PR (public relations) office didn't return my phone calls or e-mail--never a good sign. Of course, I had to try anyway as the play was turning out to be a bigger deal than I had realized, especially with all of the Oprah Winfrey-David Letterman hype.
I tried to move a barricade separating the press from the fans in order to find a place to shoot, but an alert police officer stopped me, saying I had to move, check in, or I would be arrested. Meanwhile, fans were slipping in with point-and-shoot cameras.
I went to check in, not sure I was on the list but figured, "What do I have to lose." The PR guy looked through the list up and down, puzzled, not appearing to find my outlet when he suddenly, fortuitously waved me into the red carpet press area. I went to the back of the riser area already filled with about 50 photographers looking for a second row spot where I could place my ladder, found one that was really a third row but with a little friendly prodding I was able to manage.
Shooting on the red carpet, photographers find they are not only competing with themselves for shots, but for time. The star is constantly pulled away either by friends or hangers-on who just have to say "Hello," in the middle of the few precious seconds the still photographers have for a photo-op. Or, the talent is pulled away for TV or print interviews that the publicists deem more important. "Don't get excited," "We'll be right back," "Oh, sorry, she's running late," the PR touts. Translation: You're not getting the shot!
Often, the celebrity will pose for only one set of photographers, completely passing up the rest of the line. Everyone went crazy for a shot of Tina Turner (who is rarely around) posing with Oprah. But half the line missed it because they were together in only one place. By the time the event had ended we had photographed writer Alice Walker (the author of the book on which the play was based) clutching a copy of the program, "The Color Purple." Also, Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Kimberly Elise in red, Sidney Poitier with Jamie Foxx, the ubiquitous Donald Trump and Melania, Jerry Seinfeld, Star Jones, Lynn Whitfield, Iman and David Bowie, Naomi Campbell, Ashanti, and Sean 'Diddy' Combs were photographed.
Finally, The PR woman made a list of those cleared to cover the curtain call. She checked the photographers' names against her list, marking off some, sending others away. When she got to me, I gave her my name; she looked, and said, "You're not on my list, you shouldn't even be here. I guess it's too late now," and even she had to laugh.
© Nancy Kaszerman
Dispatches are brought to you by Canon. Send Canon a message of thanks.
Back to February 2006 Contents