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September 9, 2015

Paparazzi Secrets: The Real Stories Behind 7 Amazing Shots by Celebrity Photographer Ron Galella

Ron Galella is widely regarded as the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the world—he’s been dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek, and “the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time and Vanity Fair. Here are stories of how he got up close and personal with Mick Jagger, Jackie O, Al Pacino, and other publicly hounded stars.

1. Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger, Limelight, 1984

"They were at the club for a concert, I believe. I've taken more pictures of Mick than anybody other than Jackie—he'd give me nice quotes. One time he gave me the finger. But his face is so expressive, it was hard to take a bad photo. He was always making faces at me."

2. Al Pacino, Scarface premiere after party, 1983

"I have a technique for getting good pictures, and the technique is this: when they come out, you go in the street and shoot over the limousines. That way you have no cops in front of you. This was at the Scarface premiere party at Sardi's. The PR guy had kicked me out because he thought I was too wild and uncontrollable, but there's another picture I got right in through the car window with Pacino and his girlfriend at the time, Kathleen Quinlan. My picture ran double page in People Magazine because their photographer was inside. They got the cast. But they didn't get the girlfriend and I got her. So sometimes it pays to be outside."

3. John Lennon and David Bowie, 1975

"This was at the Grammys Awards party. The actual awards were at the Uris Theatre, which is now the Gershwin Theatre, but the after party was at the Essex House and there were a lot of stars there and Bowie was at one table and John Lennon was at another. And I went up to John Lennon's table and said, "John, can I get a picture of you and Bowie?" He says, "Sure," and he posed with Bowie, that's how I got one of my great shots. I like it because the composition is good. I like for one person to be the hero; in this case it's Bowie, looking towards the camera, and Lennon looking at him. That's the way a wedding photo should be—the bride looking at the camera and the groom looking at her."

4. Jackie Kennedy Onassis departs for New York City, 1979

"Every day after lunch, I would stake out Jackie. When it was too cold, I'd hang out in the lounge of the Croydon Hotel around the corner on 86th Street. After 7:30, 8:00, she might go out to the ballet or a restaurant. Her favorite restaurant was La Côte Basques on 55th Street right across from the St. Regis. Other times they would go to 21 Club. Jackie may not love me but I think she loves my work—she gave my pictures from our court battles to the JFK library. One day, she comes out of the 21 Club and she grabs my wrist and pins me against her limousine with her elbow and says, "You've been hunting me for three months now," in a whispering voice. I think she loved being pursued by me."

5. Bruce Springsteen and Patti Sciafla, 1988

"This was at a party at Canal Bar way downtown. He's just about to get out of the limo with Patti, and it's raining, you can see the drops on the windows. After I took the shot, he gets out, and there was a puddle at the curb, so he picked her up and carried her over it. I thought that was very gentlemanly."

6. Elizabeth Taylor's plane, 1973

"Back in those days, you could go right up to the gate and shoot. You could go out on the runway! One time I found out that Sophia Loren was leaving on American Airlines from JFK and I went right on the plane and shot her with the baby. Nobody stopped me! All I had was a press card around my neck."

7. Halston and guests, Bianca Jagger's 35th birthday party, 1980 (left); Grace Jones (right)

"The routine was that there were so many events in New York that after covering the main events, towards the end of the night I would go to Studio 54, even if there wasn't an event, the stars would go there. Halston was one of the big names there. Him and Liza Minnelli were almost always there. And Bianca too. Sometimes Liz Taylor, if she was in town. Warhol, of course. And Calvin Klein. That was the group. But whoever was in town Steve Rubell would invite them so they would meet other stars—that's what they loved about the Studio, meeting other stars."

(Photos © Ron Galella/Ron Galella,Ltd.)


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