[Photographer, b. 1931, Bronx, New York, lives in New York.]
My job is thick with risks, threats, occasional violence and sometimes the necessary folly that sometimes courts humiliation and ridicule. But I don’t care. I see myself as the dean of American paparazzi.
I got in my car and followed [Marlon Brando] down to Chinatown, and got about twelve shots. Brando called me over and said, “What else do you want that you don’t have already?” And I said, “I’d like a picture without the sunglasses.” He said no and punched me right in the jaw, It was so fast I didn’t see it coming. Blood was gushing out of my mouth. I drove to Bellevue. The jawbone and five teeth were broken... To this day he has scars on his knuckles from my teeth.
My style is the paparazzi approach which is spontaneous, unrehearsed, off-guard. The beauty I’m after is inherent, more natural. Genuine emotions, real emotions, that’s what I look for.
We had a love-hate relationship. Jackie knew exactly what she could get out of one of my photos.
Celebrities were quick to understand that paparazzi could make icons of them. The more a star is followed and admired, the greater the adulation. So they raised the stakes, sometimes hiding when they don’t even need to. Today, stardom is more ephemeral and it’s photography that gives them their celebrity status.