The term paparazzi – famously brought into existence by Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita – is freighted with negative connotations, conjuring up invasion of private space, the nonchalant ruining of lives, physical assaults, high-profile law suits and more. Yet as a genre, its aesthetic has been surprisingly influential for a number of other styles, from fashion and fine art to its frequent overlaps with “loftier” genres such as documentary and street photography.
Weegee (Usher Fellig, a.k.a. the “papa of Paparazzi”) was one of the first to start snapping celebrities unawares, but he also worked with (and ahead of) police on order to capture everything from motor accidents to murders. By the Fifties and Sixties, Tazio Secchiaroli (the inspiration for Fellini’s news photographer Paparazzo) was stalking famous people in Rome, while Edward Quinn and Daniel Angeli were doing the same on the Cote d’Azur.