Seventies Nostalgia

Monday, January 08, 2007

Paparazzi

When I started out as a gossip columnist in the late Seventies, I took pictures of my victims with my little instamatic (this was before the age of digital), but the published pics all came out blurred. Also, I found it a bit of an encumbrance trying to delve and snap at the same time. And, as I was pretending not to be a journalist but a genuine friend of the people, whose brains I was surreptitiously picking, it looked a bit suspicious - me continuously flashing my camera in their gobs. An unobtrusive David Bailey I was not! One evening, I wasn’t minding my own business in the middle of a nightclub opening (Wedgies in the Kings Road) when an exuberant man with long black hair and dressed in black leather banged me on the shoulder. ‘Hi, I’m Richard Young, your new photographer,’ he said cheerily. He went on to explain that “Ritz Newspaper” had just hired him to be my personal photographer, which suited me fine. ‘Photograph that lump of lard over there,’ I ordered at full volume, pointing him in the direction of an obese lord. Richard did as he was told without asking any questions. Richard was no virgin when it came to the world of 'photo journalism' however. He had recently managed to successfully infiltrate Liz and Richard Burton’s birthday bash at the Dorchester, taking a paparazzo shot of them, so he knew exactly what he was doing. He manipulated his camera like it was a machine gun, relentlessly sniping fire. Rat-a-tat-snap!
Young and Lynn

At the beginning of our partnership, he didn’t know who anyone was, but he quickly learned Who Was Who, i.e. which person was worth photographing. When I was at a dinner in Karl Lagerfeld’s honour at Mr Chow, I was seated at the fashion designer’s table with a group of women journalists, who spent their whole evening, wearily having to tell their photographers whom not to photograph. I didn’t have to exert myself one little bit and concentrated on my fried seaweed, as Richard already knew ‘everyone’ and automatically knew whom to snap without my having to tell him.
‘You are fortunate having a photographer whom you don’t have to tell what to do,’ the fashion editor of Women’s Wear Daily confided in me.
‘Can I borrow him?’ the dame from The Daily Mail asked.

It was all very well that Richard was independent – too independent, for soon Richard was no longer taking exclusives for ‘Ritz’, and like all good paparazzi was making a fortune globally syndicating his photographs of the rich and famous at the functions I took him too. Richard and I worked together harmoniously for years, but I knew we had to finally part company when people at parties started to rush up to speak to him rather than speak to me first. He was no longer my personal photographer, but after having worked with me, was the only civilised paparazzo in London who was allowed to take photographs inside, rather than hang outside for celebrities in the cold.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

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