09 May 2008

Isn't that Pia Zadora with spinach in her teeth?

Now that everyone carries a cell phone and 99.9999% of cell phones have a camera, what is appropriate camera etiquette when you encounter a celeb?

I'm not talking about skeevy snaps in locker rooms. Everybody's clear on that: Bad photographer! Bad!! Bad!!

What I mean is, DC is a city that always has famous and semi-famous people wandering around. And if they're in a parade or at a protest, sure, you snap their picture. But what if they're standing in a shop or enjoying a quiet dinner? Is it okay to snap them browsing or with Alfredo on their chin?

As someone who has actually practiced creating a pleasant visage in the mirror prior to events where I know I'll likely have my picture taken formally or candidly (weddings, bar mitzvahs,... ), I can appreciate that not every moment is an ideal photo op. Often I think I look just fine and then the photo comes back and there's the inevitable questions/comments: "What were you doing?", "Were you nauseous?", and, most recently, "Maybe you shouldn't have leaned in like that in that dress". I'm usually disappointed with photos of me. And if I'm going to be a photobomber I want to be intentional about it.*

So I guess my question is: Do you give up all rights to even a modicum of privacy when you sign the "Yes, I want to be a celebrity" papers?

*At our wedding, the photobomber was my youngest nephew. He was 6 at the time and in every single formal shot everyone is smiling except him--he's busy making a monkey face. My sister claims he was at that age when he didn't know what to do when the photographer said "smile!" I claim, at 6 you know the difference between a smile and a monkey face.


Bilbo said...

I don't believe in using cell phone cameras to take candid shots of anyone, celebrity or no. As a pretty good hobby photographer, I take hundreds of pictures at dance competitions and other public events, but not if I think someone will object. There's a certain etiquette to photography that one learns to observe ... it helps to keep from getting the camera stuck up your nose by an irate subject.

lacochran said...

So you see a celebrity and you do what? Bother them to ask if you can take a picture? Or assume they won't want it?

Bilbo said...

If it looked as if I wouldn't get punched in the nose, I'd ask first. We met Tony Dovolani (Dancing with the Stars) at a dance competition in Miami about three years ago and I waited until he was just standing around tapping his feet to ask if he'd let me take his picture with my wife. He not only graciously agreed, but asked someone else to use my camera so both of us could have a photo with him. Sometimes it just pays off to ask nicely...

Gilahi said...

Certain Native American social norms consider it an egregious insult to take someone's photo, even a famous person's without their permission. It always pays to ask, I think, even if you're surrounded by other folks who are happily snapping away without doing so.