@ EconCeleb: Paparazzi Photos A Booming Business And ‘We’re All Whores Making Money’

Getting into the nitty gritty of it all, the paparazzi photos, Rafat introduced the panel inspired by New Yorker and Atlantic contributor and moderator David Samuels‘ Britney Spears story published in The Atlantic. Things almost got a little snarky when the panelists clashed on views on the role of paparazzi and the impact they have on Hollywood. (Okay, okay, so Staci told me that’s being a little too nice — the panel did get downright bitchy.) The general consensus? For as long as there are celebrities and as long as there are media, the paparazzi marketplace will be a booming business. But the issue at hand was who actually benefits more — the photographers or the celebrities? The question prompted Frank Griffin, CEO & Partner, Bauer-Griffin, to wring his hands, exclaiming: “We’re all whores! We’re all whores making the money!” (Ed. note: prompting the biggest response of the day.)

Celebrities using media or vice versa?: After taking a few moments to vent about the ruthless paparazzi, Stan Rosenfield, founder, Stan Rosenfield & Associates, did admit that celebs cut deals with them, even going so far as to call photographers to tell them their whereabouts, all for the sake of showing the world what good parents they are to their children. “Money changes hands, everybody is happy,” he shrugs. Craig Peters, VP, Footage and Multimedia, Getty Images (NYSE: GYI), was quick to say that all of Getty’s photos are from events or from partnerships with celebs themselves. So it seems that for as long as a celeb is hot, the paparazzi will be willing to take the photos. But what happens when someone isn’t that famous, when they want the media attention but can’t get it? Griffin was quick to point out that, in the 1980s, when George Clooney (one of Rosenfield’s clients and an outspoken paparazzi critic) was in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, he would have jumped at the chance to get in the magazines. “Lots of these celebs, they make the monster, but they want to cage the beast. And he tries to put a lid on that monster, is that not true?” Rosenfield responded, “I would venture a guess that when it came to getting photos, they would have said to him, ‘get a career, see you in five years.'”

More on monetization and ad sponsorships after the jump

Making money off photos: Right off the bat, Griffin noted that contrary to popular belief, photographers don’t make that much money from celebrity photos. Rosenfield commented that even though a photo of him with Charlie Sheen made its way to a rag, he was certain the picture couldn’t be worth more than $25.

Sponsorships: Sheeraz Hasan, founder and CEO, Hollywood.tv, pointed out that in his company, the money to be made in ad sponsorships isn’t just from click-through rates on the sites; the idea is to give advertisers a fan base. For example, Coca Cola may hire Britney Spears as a spokesperson, but Hollywood.tv gives Coca Cola the Britney fans. He also stressed international sponsors: “We don’t rely on American sponsors, but we do make money from [them]. But there is far more money in the international market. Some people forget this, but you have to remember that people in other countries are fascinated with Hollywood but they don’t get to touch it.”

Gossip blogs taking off, print will too: Griffin is excited about gossip in digital media, predicting they’ll represent “quite a proportion” within the next 2-5 years. Peters admitted that though there may be a lag with print media spend catching up with consumption, we shouldn’t forget this is the only part of print that’s growing. “It’s growing and people are paying more and more money for print,” he says. “This is about demand; the consumption is there. I’m one of those 10 percent that actually subscribes. The interest is growing and you might see a lag for the media spend to catch up.”

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