For other uses, see Paparazzi (disambiguation).
Statue of a paparazzo by sculptor Radko Macuha in Bratislava, Slovakia
Paparazzi style photography
Mickey Hargitay assaults the "king of paparazzi" Rino Barillari while a woman hits him with her purse—Via Veneto 1963
Robbie Williams of 90s British group Take That poses for a paparazzi photographer in London in 2000.

Paparazzi (US /ˌpɑːpəˈrɑːtsi/, UK /ˌpæpəˈrætsi/; Italian: [papaˈrattsi]; singular: masculine paparazzo or feminine paparazza) are independent photographers who take pictures of athletes, entertainers, politicians, and other celebrities, typically while going about their usual life routines.


Paparazzi tend to be independent contractors, unaffiliated with mainstream media organizations, and photos taken are usually done so by taking advantage of opportunities when they have sightings of high-profile people they are tracking.[1] Some experts have described the behavior of paparazzi as synonymous with stalking, and anti-stalking bills in many countries address the issue by reducing harassment of public figures and celebrities, especially with their minor children. Some public figures and celebrities have expressed concern at the extent to which paparazzi go to invade their personal space.[2] The filing and receiving of judicial support for restraining orders against paparazzi has increased, as have lawsuits with judgments against them.


A news photographer named Paparazzo (played by Walter Santesso in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita directed by Federico Fellini) is the eponym of the word paparazzi. In his book Word and Phrase, Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini took the name from an Italian dialect word that describes a particularly annoying noise, that of a buzzing mosquito. As Fellini said in his interview to Time magazine, "Paparazzo ... suggests to me a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging."[3] Those versions of the word's origin are confirmed by Treccani,[4] the most authoritative Italian encyclopaedia, but sometimes contested. For example, in the Abruzzo dialect spoken by Ennio Flaiano, co-scriptwriter of La Dolce Vita, the term paparazzo refers to the local clam, Venerupis decussata, and is also used as a metaphor for the shutter of a camera lens.

Further, in an interview with Fellini's screenwriter Flaiano, he said the name came from the book Sulla riva dello Jonio (1957), a translation by Italian poet Margherita Guidacci of By the Ionian Sea, a 1901 travel narrative in southern Italy by Victorian writer George Gissing. He further states that either Fellini or Flaiano opened the book at random, saw the name of a restaurant owner, Coriolano Paparazzo, and decided to use it for the photographer. This story is further documented by a variety of Gissing scholars and in the book A Sweet and Glorious Land: Revisiting the Ionian Sea (St. Martin's Press, 2000) by John Keahey, and Pierre Coustillas.[5]

By the late 1960s, the word, usually in the Italian plural form paparazzi, had entered English as a generic term for intrusive photographers.[6] A person who has been photographed by the paparazzi is said to have been "papped".

In other languages

A transliteration of paparazzi is used in several languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, including Japanese, Korean, Russian, Thai and Hebrew. Chinese uses , meaning "puppy squad". Khmer uses អ្នកប្រមាញ់រូប (anak bramanh roub).


Due to the reputation of paparazzi as a nuisance, some states and countries restrict their activities by passing laws and curfews, and by staging events in which paparazzi are specifically not allowed to take photographs.[7][8][9][10] In the United States, celebrity news organizations are protected by the First Amendment.[11]

To protect the children of celebrities, California passed a new bill in September 2013. The purpose of the new bill is to stop paparazzi from taking pictures of children in a harassing manner, regardless of who their parents are. This new law increased the penalty on harassment and the penalty for harassment of children.[12]


A group of photojournalists often known as paparazzi

In 1972, paparazzo photographer Ron Galella sued Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis after the former First Lady ordered her Secret Service agents to destroy Galella's camera and film following an encounter in New York City's Central Park. Kennedy counter-sued claiming harassment. The trial lasted three weeks and became a groundbreaking case regarding photojournalism and the role of paparazzi. In Galella v. Onassis, Kennedy obtained a restraining order to keep Galella 150 feet (46 m) away from her and her children. The restriction later was dropped to 25 feet (7.6 m). The trial is a focal point in Smash His Camera, a 2010 documentary film by director Leon Gast.

In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed were killed in a limousine crash as their driver was speeding, trying to get away from paparazzi.[13][14] An inquest jury investigated the involvement of paparazzi in the incident, and although several paparazzi were taken into custody, no one was convicted. The official inquests into the accident attributed the causes to the speed and manner of driving of the Mercedes, as well as the following vehicles, and the impairment of the judgment of the Mercedes driver, Henri Paul, through alcohol.[15]

In 1999, the Oriental Daily News of Hong Kong was found guilty of "scandalizing the court", an extremely rare criminal charge that the newspaper's conduct would undermine confidence in the administration of justice.[16] The charge was brought after the newspaper had published abusive articles challenging the judiciary's integrity and accusing it of bias in a lawsuit the paper had instigated over a photo of a pregnant Faye Wong. The paper had also arranged for a "dog team" (slang for paparazzi in the Chinese language) to track a judge for 72 hours, to provide the judge with first-hand experience with what paparazzi do.[17]

Time magazine's Style & Design special issue in 2005 ran a story entitled "Shooting Star", in which Mel Bouzad, one of the top paparazzi in Los Angeles at the time, claimed to have made US$150,000 for a picture of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Georgia after their breakup. "If I get a picture of Britney and her baby," Bouzad claimed, "I'll be able to buy a house in those hills (above Sunset Boulevard)."[18] Paparazzi author Peter Howe told Time that "celebrities need a higher level of exposure than the rest of us so it is a two-way street. The celebrities manipulate."

In 2006, Daniella Cicarelli went through a scandal when a paparazzo caught video footage of her having sex with her boyfriend on a beach in Spain, which was posted on YouTube.[19] After fighting in the court, it was decided in her favor, causing YouTube to be blocked in Brazil. This caused major havoc among Brazilians, including threatening a boycott against MTV Brasil unless Cicarelli was fired from that company. The block only lasted a few days, and Cicarelli was not dismissed. The legal action backfired as the court decided she had no expectation of privacy by having sex in a public location.

The E! network program Celebrities Uncensored used often-confrontational footage of celebrities made by paparazzi.

Following the publication of photographs showing the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing whilst topless at her husband's cousin's (Viscount Linley's) holiday home in France, it was announced on September 14, 2012, that the Royal couple were to launch legal action against the French edition of Closer magazine. It was the first time that a senior royal has sued in a court outside the UK. The reason cited for the legal action is that the Duchess had a right of privacy whilst at the home—the magazine responded that the pictures had been taken from the public highway. The injunction was granted September 18, 2012 and the publishers of the magazine were ordered not to publish the photographs in France and not to sell the images. The publishers were also ordered to hand over the original material of the published pictures under threat of a €10,000 fine for every day delay in doing so.[20]

In the United Kingdom, Sienna Miller, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen won injunctions that prevent the paparazzi from following them and gathering outside their houses. Miller was awarded £53,000.[21]

In 2013, rapper Kanye West, facing assault charges for attacking a photojournalist, said he would fight to get the law changed so celebrities can profit from the paparazzi's work.[22][23]


  1. "Is Everyone a Journalist?". American Journalism Review. October 1997.
  2. "Why Paparazzi Are Wrong". CNN. March 13, 2006. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  3. "The Press: The Paparazzi on the Prowl". Time. April 14, 1961. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  4. "Paparazzo". (in Italian).
  5. Coustillas, Pierre (2005). "Gissing and the Paparazzi". In Badolato, Francesco. George Gissing, romanziere del tardo periodo vittoriano. Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino. pp. 256–266. ISBN 88-498-1193-4 via Google Books.
  6. "Paparazzi". Word Origins and History.
  7. Corbett, Ellen M. "AB 2479 Bill Analysis". Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  8. "SB 465 Summary". Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  9. Harman, Danna. "How Princess Diana Changed the Way Paparazzi Pursue Kate Middleton". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  10. Doland, Angela. "French Paparazzi Laws Favor Celebrities: Jolie, Pitt Latest Couple to Benefit". Seattle Times. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  11. Lowry, Brian (August 6, 2013). "Taking a Shot at Paparazzi". Variety. 320 (17). Retrieved September 30, 2013 via Western Libraries. (registration required (help)).
  12. McGreevy, Patrick (September 24, 2013). "Gov. Brown Signs Bills Aimed at Paparazzi, Family Leave and Quakes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  13. Allen, Peter (August 29, 2014). "Policeman who Spoke to Dying Princess Diana Blasts 'DIY' Security who Failed to Stop Crash". Express. London. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  14. "1997: Princess Diana Dies in Paris Crash". BBC. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  15. It should also be noted that paparazzi still chased the car even after it crashed, continuing to take pictures.
    Jury Verdict-Inquisition Forms
    Princess Diana of Wales and Emad El-Din Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al Fayed Coroner's Inquests into the Death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Mr. Dodi Al Fayed H. M. Coroner
  16. Wong Yeung Ng v. Secretary for Justice, ICHRL 12 (February 9, 1999).
  17. Hamlett, Tim (July–December 2011). "Scandalising the Scumbags: The Secretary for Justice vs the Oriental Press Group" (PDF). AsiaPacific MediaEducator (11): 20–33. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 18, 2006. Retrieved August 20, 2006.
  18. "Shooting Stars". Time. Archived from the original on December 26, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2006.
  19. Justiça mantém liminar que obriga sites a tirar vídeo de Cicarelli com namorado do ar Archived March 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. "". Archived from the original on February 16, 2008.
  21. "Have Celebrities Finally Snapped?". The Guardian. London. May 4, 2009.
  22. "Kanye West Demands Money from Paparazzi". 3 News NZ. September 25, 2013.
  23. "Kanye West: 'The Paparazzi Should Pay Me'". The Mirror. London. September 24, 2013.
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