While I have photographed many celebrities in the past since the Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza wedding in Punta Mita, Mexico
, I have never witnessed a ‘pack’ of paparazzi as well as fans like this before. And, on top of that, the initial hour of my shoot would be spent working along side the paparazzi and fans (with a ton more freedom to move about, thankfully to my own little private pack of PR reps who shuffled me about in places the others could not step near).
I initially sat next to a very nice, older man who quickly gave me the run down. Clearly, I looked “fresh.” While I don’t want to spend too much time speaking about the paparazzi, I will say they are everything I imagined, but more intense in person. The yelling, barking, screaming, making jokes, pushing to get Christoph’s attention, and the code words flying about so the paparazzi can quickly communicate with one another, all added to an already intense experience.
The nice man was quickly replaced with a mean man sitting right behind me who couldn’t believe I was actually going to stretch my spine to its natural position and sit straight up and not hunched over with my chin in my crotch for an hour straight so he had a better view. I quickly learned I was wrong, and he was right. But I wasn’t a paparazzi at the event, and working for the star himself and the film company. However, he didn’t care one bit. His deliverables to an agency mean money or no money that day.
Language flew between us as we both hid behind our aluminum alloy boxes glued to our faces. In all honesty, it was a surreal experience mainly because of my role: To be a fly-on-the-wall and migrate inside Musso and Franks
after the ceremony and document a private lunch between Christoph Waltz, members of The Weinstein Company
, Samuel L. Jackson
, and Quentin Tarantino
Most celebrity shoots I have done involve so much PR, even I can’t tell if I even know who these people are when I walk away. But his was their time to sit in private and celebrate a historical milestone for Christoph and the conversations across the table were very organic and open.
Listening to Tarantino chat with friends about nearly scrapping Inglorious Basterds
because he was beginning to think might have written "a role that was un-playable" before landing a casting call for Christoph Waltz was just incredible. They were amongst each other, all on the same page, no PR, no journalists, no fans, no paparazzi - just a group of friends in an empty restaurant. I was the odd man in the room.
As we all know, Christoph took the role, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009. This alone turned Christoph Waltz’s life upside down, and right into fame over night. Recently, working with Tarantino again, he won another Best Supporting Actor Oscar Award for Django Unchained
. To witness a man, who had a successful career mainly in Europe, talk to his friends over a lunch about his gratitude and see tears in his eyes was overwhelming. The fly-on-the-wall experience allowed me to see a vulnerable side as well as a grateful side to a celebrity.
After the lunch was over, I left through the backdoor to the parking lot in the rear, and was met by another wall of paparazzi. This time, I gracefully walked through them knowing I had images they really needed. And I was thrilled my hater had moved on. Hopefully to another celebrity sighting.