Today (21st May 2016) I got to play at being a paparazzi for a short time. Thirty five seconds exactly.
Let me set the scene. It's the Vogue 100 Festival in London over the weekend in which Vogue are going all out to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the magazine and their relationship with the world of fashion. I've already been to the amazing exhibition of photography from Vogue at the National Portrait Gallery just off Trafalgar Sq. Stunning images of fashion in all it's diversity worn by the most recognisable faces of the day taken by photographers at the peak of their creativity. As I write this the exhibition is still on. If you think you like fashion and photography I urge you to go and see it.
Back to today and I was in South Kensington to see if there was anything interesting to be seen at the Vogue event. I'd heard Kim Kardashian was going to be there but never expected to see her. Hanging with a couple of photographer friends we were mostly stood around chatting. Nothing much was happening and it all seemed a bit of a damp squib. Pffft and no explosion. Time for a coffee and a sit down so we walked back past the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). The crowd had got a bit bigger than earlier and more curiously there were a bunch of guys on black scooters who also had a lot of pro camera gear slung round their bodies. Like wakeful lions knowing the wildebeest were coming their way. Well if the lions were awake I was more interested. The crowds continued to build so my friends and I grabbed some of the few remaining places on the far side of a limo which was waiting outside the side gates of the RGS. And we waited.
I've been to a few fashion events and have mostly found limo drivers to be grumpy sods whose whole day is a struggle of shooing the public away from their cars. This guy was great, personable and friendly. He stood on the door sill of his car and asked everyone to take care as he already had dents and scratches from the melee of photographers and excited fans of other days. Kind of attitude of understanding the circus and asking us as adults to play the game in a nice way. He was more concerned about other security people pushing people back with metal barriers which he felt could just get dangerous in the impending excitement. I wish I'd got his name. And we waited.
There was now a crowd behind me as more people gathered to see what was going on. People laughing and joking about the Kardashians but still there with enough curiosity to maybe try for a shot on their iPhone. The passing traffic was now finding it difficult to squeeze between the thronging crowd and the traffic islands and horns got honked. And we waited.
Maybe they went out of a different door! What's happening? Maybe we should just go home! Do you really think they'll come? Let's wait a few more minutes! Ok, five more minutes! And we waited.
A bit of activity as some people did come out of the exit. Cameras were raised, but it was a false alarm. Just some huge fella come to look at the car. And we waited.
Then, cameras came up to eyes and didn't come down. Shouts of "Kim!" and then hubby was there too. "It's Kanye!" I thought I'd got myself a good position and my long lens would get me a great shot but I soon had heads and hats in my way. Elbows and cameras coming from the side. In desperation I just held my camera high and pressed the shutter while pointing the lens in what I hoped was the right direction. And then it was over and they were in the car and the car was going going gone.
And so I got a few badly framed and many out of focus shots but one or two just about acceptable. Nothing good enough for a magazine or a web gossip column. It made me realise just how hard it must be to get those genuinely good enough photographs. I mean paparazzi shots are not really great portraits but they are at least good photos. Those paparazzi folks sure know their prey and hunt with sharpened skills. Just something to think about next time you buy Hello magazine or visit the Daily Mail website.
So it was fun and I took the whole thing as a glorious insight into the crazy crazy circus of fame and celebrity. Would I want to do it all the time? No, but the occasional time might be fun. I'd just be sure to wear stacked shoes and have sharper elbows next time.
A couple of "ok" shots and then all the rest. First photo at 1:52pm and 20 seconds, last photo 35 seconds later.