Slideshow April 2008

The Celebrity Hunters

David Samuels, the author of "Shooting Britney" in the April Atlantic, interviews Brandy and François-Regis Navarre of X17, Hollywood's biggest paparazzi agency, about a selection of recent celebrity photographs taken by X17's photographers on the streets of Los Angeles
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Barbara Streisand—Working With Her Gardeners at Her Malibu Home, Point Dume

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Brandy: "It's too bad we didn't have a little bit more in this shot of Barbara Streaisand making a weird face. One of the first principles of a good paparazzi shot is that you don't want to raise a question you don't answer. We don't know why she is making a face. If there was a huge box of pizza in the shot that would be funny. Or if she was chewing gum, or something.

"This picture is half of a story, which is enough for the internet. It still leaves you wondering. But the magazines do like to publish pictures of her, even if they are almost always unflattering. She gives you lots of opportunities. And she doesn't like the paparazzi. At her wedding she hired some big speakers on a trailer to blare heavy metal music in the direction of the paparazzi and the entertainment reporters in front of her house to screw up their stand-ups and their shots. This was while her wedding was going on in the backyard."

Regis: "She is gardening at the edge of the property. She doesn't care at all what she looks like when she goes out. She goes out on rainy days. She wears sweatpants. Her hair is a mess. People like to see these shots because she is so rich. People expect her to still be a diva like she is on stage. All that power, all that money, and she still doesn't have a nice body and a nice look. It goes against our expectations. She goes on long hikes around her property in bad weather. She really enjoys a kind of Malibu country life."

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David Samuels is a regular contributor to The Atlantic.

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