“It’s a messed up business,” said Roger Wong, a freelance photographer, who was among a few dozen other people doing a step-and-repeat outside the Hard Rock Hotel near Times Square on Thursday evening. He was hoping to get a marketable shot of Martha Stewart. This year’s cover models For Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. “But what am I going to do? Start flipping burgers? I’ll probably make more money, but that’s not my thing.”
At the issue’s launch party, photographers chatted and snapped photos of other attendees, including Megan Fox and Kim Petras. But they were still reeling from the event two nights earlier at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, where Meghan Markle was being honored at the annual Miss Foundation Women of Vision Awards.
After leaving the gala, Prince Harry, Meghan and their mother Doria Ragland joined what the couple’s rep described as “Close to a devastating car chase“As a result of the frenzied pursuit by the paparazzi.
Following word of the ordeal around the world from a city not particularly known for operatic paparazzi chases in Los Angeles and Europe in general, many photographers were of the strong opinion that the chase was staged or staged. was over hyped. Some of the dozen or so people The New York Times said were present at the event. One said he stalked the royal couple, but would only give details for the money.
The first reports largely repeated the couple’s rep’s claims, along with comments from a security detail member to CNN that The chase could have been deadly. But as more details emerged, from the accounts of police and a taxi driver who was briefly involved, the facts began to diverge from their accounts.
In a text message, Tina Brown, author of two books on the royal family, said the whole story, “sounds mildly ridiculous.”
But it came after claims by a royal family representative that they were involved in a dramatic two-hour chase. Mayor Eric Adams condemned the incident as “reckless and irresponsible”, only to add that he was a bit concerned at the thought of a two-hour high-speed car chase through midtown Manhattan. .
And indeed, the police later concluded that the incident “did not require further investigation.”
Mr. Wong noted. Tuesday first, Prince Harry’s lawyer appeared in court in London, challenging the government’s decision not to allow him to pay for police protection during his visit home. Mr Wong said the times were very easy.
Even one person who previously worked with the royal family on their public relations strategy said it strained logic that the couple’s driver did not pull into the garage of one of the many hotels that Celebrities often use it to avoid stalking photographers. The couple decided to stay in an undisclosed location with their friend instead of staying in a safe hotel. Made fun of On page six
In an interview with The Times on Friday, the couple’s representative, Ashley Hansen, said: “With respect, given the Duke’s family history, one would think nothing of the couple or anyone associated with them.” To believe it’s any kind of PR stunt. Quite frankly, I think it’s disgusting.”
But for the rotating cast of characters who make their living photographing the comings and goings of celebrities, Prince Harry and Meghan’s story had to be viewed with some skepticism.
One reason, said Steve Eichner, 58, an event photographer who has worked for Vogue, WWD and Variety, is that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in Paris in 1998, when photographers from Paris I identified public stereotypes about people. Profession.
“After he died, I remember he was on the red carpet at events and people would drive by, roll down their windows and yell: ‘You’re a murderer! You’re a murderer,'” Mr. Eichner said. “I’ve never chased a celebrity in my life.”
According to Steve Sands, another photographer who has spent the better part of his adult life photographing celebrities, this was also a story that laid all the blame for the tragedy at the feet of the photographers, with a few People noticed that there were paparazzi. Chased by “a drunken driver” who was carrying Diana and “determined to be a hero.” (Police investigation This determination (that the driver’s blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit.)
Also, the punishing economics of the tabloid business, as well as the aggressive expansion of Getty Images, a major provider of celebrity photos, have made it difficult to make a living, several people said in interviews Thursday. . Working independently, they either cannot sell or have to find publications for payments. By agreeing to sell through Getty they receive a few dollars in royalties on a small website.
Getting celebrity shots in “real life” situations is more lucrative, but many said the days of $100,000 jackpots are largely over.
One person who has excelled despite these odds is Kevin Mazur, an event photographer who co-founded the company WireImage. In 2007, WireImage was sold as part of Getty. was described at the time. As a $200 million deal. But Mr. Mazur continues to shoot, including on Tuesday, when he was the only photographer with full access to the Ms. Foundation gala.
This enabled them to get the only clean shots of Prince Harry and Meghan inside the venue while giving other shutterbugs plenty to complain about as they held up the event as an example of how Monopolies fed the top and starved everyone else. At the same time, the paparazzi are less likely to sympathize with a crying victim than a person whose mother died in a car accident while fleeing from them.
Moreover, the claim of the photographers that no one outside got the pictures of the couple leaving the ceremony turned out to be false. “They were some of the most beautiful photos of the evening,” said Ms. Hansen, who produced a few of them by text message minutes later.
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s galaMr Wong, 62, was one of the photographers shooting in front, where event organizers announced Meghan would appear. There was no indication that she would go with her husband.
Although there were dozens of other names in attendance, Mr. Wong estimates Meghan was the only one whose photo would have fetched him more than a hundred dollars.
A barricade was erected and photographers thought that although only Mr Mazur would have access inside, they would still get a chance to photograph him outside.
The first surprise was seeing the prince. Second, instead of having photographers stand out front, Meghan and Harry rented a Hertz car nearby and used another door to let the photographers out.
“All these people went around and photographed them through the glass,” said Mr Wong, who couldn’t even get close enough to get a good shot.
So he went home empty handed. As did a select group of wire service photographers for outlets like the Associated Press, who had a place upstairs to stand but never shot inside.
Michael Stewart, another freelance photographer from New York, chose to follow the couple as they left.
Although Mr Stewart declined to be interviewed for this article, he has told PEOPLE over the past few days that six cars were involved – three belonging to Meghan and Harry, and three belonging to photographers. who were in pursuit. About half a dozen bicycles were also trailing behind.
Mr Stewart’s bike was one of the few – if not the only – electric bikes, which enabled him to hold it for around half an hour, as the detail took Meghan, her mother and Prince Harry on a circular route. That involved going uptown, back downtown, then all the way east to Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, and from there to the police precinct. When they got out, a yellow cab was hailed by a security guard working for them.
On Thursday, one video One of them was published on TMZ inside the cab, and Prince Harry could be seen in the back passenger seat, holding his iPhone, masking his face, apparently filming them. (In the interview, Ms. Hanson confirmed that she was doing the same. “I believe that kind of footage could be useful if there were to be an investigation,” she said.
Then taxi driver Sukhcharan Singh told the Washington Post That the couple panicked when he started driving them away.
He acknowledged that the paparazzi appeared to be following but said: “I don’t think I would call it a chase. I never felt like I was in danger. It wasn’t like a car chase in a movie. They were quiet and looked scared, but this is New York – it’s safe.
Despite this, Mr Singh said the security guard in the front seat became increasingly concerned and asked him to take him back to the police station. The couple didn’t even have time to give him the address they were going to. Shortly thereafter, the couple reached home without their location being traced by a police convoy.
In the beginning, it wasn’t just the mayor who criticized the photographers. The New York Press Photographers Association popped a blister. Statement of the paparazzi’s “alleged” conduct, saying “it goes against the code of conduct that all our members – and any press photographer with respect for themselves and the profession – are expected to adhere to.” “
Backgrid, the agency that represents at least two photographers who drove cars in pursuit of the royal couple, said in a statement that while the agency would investigate the incident, its photographers said the couple had been There was no immediate danger. The timing led the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to issue another statement. Demand from the agency Submit the footage. The agency immediately responded with a letter to the couple’s legal team that said: “In the United States, as I’m sure you know, property belongs to its owner: third parties do not simply demand could have it granted to them, as perhaps kings could. Perhaps you should sit down with your client and advise him that the English rules of his royal prerogative require citizens to surrender their property to the crown. Do what this country rejected long ago. We stand by our founders.”
One of the background photographers involved in the incident was Marvin Patterson, a freelancer known as Blaze. Her Facebook page features numerous photos of her photobombing models, rap queens and reality divas around town. The Times contacted him via text message late Thursday evening. Mr Peterson said he would issue a statement soon but would consider further disclosure as there was an “aggressive offer” to come his way.
After pointing out that the Times does not allow sources and articles to be paid, Mr Peterson said the footage on TMZ pretty much summed up how good the whole thing really was. “There’s really nothing for the public or the police to be concerned about,” he said. “The facts are out there. Exactly what you see is what’s out there.”
He then hung up, only to reveal in a later text message that there was no motivation to talk.
“Yes,” he said. “There was silence because there were no offers of money for my story.”