“Paparazzo Extraordinaire” – Ron Galella
Smash His Camera © 2010 Got the Shot Productions; Photos © 2010 Ron Galella, Ltd.
Considering my paparazzi photography tendencies, it’s no surprise that I immediately took a liking to Ron Galella‘s work. Galella, dubbed “the Godfather of the U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time Magazine and Vanity Fair, is one of the most controversial celebrity photographers in the world.
Oscar-winning director, Leon Gast recently produced a documentary centered around Galella’s life and works, entitled Smash His Camera. The film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Award for Directing in the U.S. Documentary category. Here are some snippets from the documentary:
In his early career, Ron, a native of the Bronx, served as an Air Force photographer during the Korean War. He later went on to pursue a degree in photojournalism from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Galella believed in stripping celebrities of their glamor, taking them off of their pedestals, and showing them as human beings. Galella relied on extreme measures to take the perfect shot and subsequently landed himself in several confrontations – from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ restraining order, a broken jaw from Marlon Brando, to Elvis’ bodyguards slashing his tires. Galella takes great pride in his risky antics and has truly suffered for his art.
What I appreciate most about his work is his keen sense of timing, spontaneity, and creativity. Taking posed pictures on the red carpet seems easy enough, but pursuing people when they have their guard down, catching them in a creative way, at their most vulnerable moments, and depicting them as human is a whole new challenge. Putting all these elements together and producing timeless photographs is truly amazing. 79 and still going strong, Galella just opened two new gallery exhibits for summer 2010 in New York City. Here are the details:
Smash His Camera
June 15 – August 20, 2010
Smash His Camera: The Notorious Photographs of Ron Galella
June 1 – June 30, 2010
Below are some of my Galella favorites (many of these snaps are from his 2008 book, No Pictures), and here is a link to hisGallery.
“Brando” © Ron Galella – November 26, 1974: NYC, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. First Annual Gala Benefiting the American Indian Development Association. I was barred from this event, so I waited in the lobby for Marlon Brando’s arrival. This time I came prepared, wearing a football helmet. I had to physically push shy photographer Paul Schulmach to take the picture. This has become the most published picture of me.
“Jackie Arrest” © Ron Galella – August 24, 1970: Capri, Italy. After spending an afternoon shopping with her sister Lee Radziwill and Lee’s son Anthony and daughter Tina, Jackie encountered me, she testified in court, in a “white sailor with a little white hat on. He came running along. He yelled at me, “Hiya, Jackie. Are you surprised to see me here” How do you life me? I’ve joined the navy.” Later, Jackie stopped at sidewalk cafe and treated Anthony and Tina to ice cream, and she had a cappuccino. She then ordered the waiter to call the police and “arrest that man.”
“Michelle Phillips” © Ron Galella – September 25, 1976: Bournemouth, England. On her Lunch break from filming Valentino with Rudolf Nureyev, Michelle Phillips treated me to lunch. Then, going back to the set, she put on the no pictures act.
“Pacino” © Ron Galella – October 18, 1979: NYC. While I was waiting for Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley in front of the Regency Hotel, I was surprised to see Al Pacino walk by-he said “No, Ron.” He was too late; I got the picture. My approach is to shoot first, before they protest.
Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall © Ron Galella
“Divine” © Ron Galella – 1978 New York, Divine at Grace Jones’ birthday party at Le Farfalle in New York
“Elvis and Diane” © Ron Galella – July 19, 1975, Elvis with Diane Goodman departing the Hilton Garden Inn at JFK Airport (New York) For Nassau Coliseum.
“John, Yoko, and David” © Ron Galella – 1975, Pop star David Bowie stands with Yoko Ono and John Lennon at the 17th annual Grammy Awards