Ron Galella: The Original Paparazzo

Reporter Virginia Rohan has a nice profile of Ron Galella — the original paparazzo — at

Ducking punches, fighting occasional lawsuits and often being the only photographer on the scene, Galella — for better or worse — helped make our pop culture what it is today …the 76-year-old Galella is so affable that it’s difficult to imagine him as the man who’s been spat at by Sean Penn, had five teeth knocked out by Marlon Brando and was once barred by court order from coming within 25 feet of the elusive Jacqueline Onassis.

Galella sees no shame in the term “paparazzo” — Italian for pesky, buzzing insect and made famous by a photographer by that name in Federico Fellini’s 1960 film “La Dolce Vita.” But he does lament some of the societal changes he helped to set in motion. “To me, if you catch celebrities being themselves, that means something. It’s photojournalism,” he says. “My approach was to catch them as they are. Not like today where they look into the camera and it becomes publicity pictures for the most part. You’ll find that they all look alike in a way, from one magazine to another.”

Galella …now spends most of his time converting his millions of photos into digital images and editing his vast collection into books. His newest, “Disco Years,” which is filled with highly evocative shots of everybody who was anybody during the Studio 54 era, came out recently. He’s now working on an Andy Warhol book, due later this year, followed by ones about gay icons and the stories behind his most iconic photos.

It’s nice to see that a man who once chased Marlon Brando wearing a football helmet has now settled into the world of coffee table books.

[tags]photography, paparazzi, scott baradell [/tags]

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