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There are certain people who might someday come to feel guilty about having spent a lifetime hounding celebrities for their pictures.

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Ron Galella

Photo By Eliot Shepard

There are certain people who might someday come to feel guilty about having spent a lifetime hounding celebrities for their pictures. Ron Galella is not one of them. "I'm trying to think of someone I'd like to apologize to, but I really can't think of a particular incident," the veteran paparazzo said recently. "I usually waited for people to swallow their food. Most of the time I'm a gentleman. Now my work is hanging in galleries and museums."

Indeed, it is. After 40 years of being sued by Jackie O, getting beaten up by Marlon Brando and having a trash can thrown at him by Elaine Kaufman outside her famous Upper East Side celebrity hangout, the photographer, now 74, is having a resurgence. Starting tonight, an exhibition of his work will be on display at the Ferragamo store on Fifth Avenue. Later this month, he's releasing "Ron Galella's Exclusive Diary" (Photology), a second collection of his photography and notes that follows the successful 2001 coffee-table book "The Photographs of Ron Galella," which was published by Lisa Eisner's Greybull Press.

WWD sat down with him at his suburban New Jersey home to talk about Jackie, the state of the paparazzi today, and why he's no longer really shooting.

WWD: Has the growth of the paparazzi impacted the quality of the photography?

Ron Galella: When I started out in the mid-Sixties, there was just The National Enquirer and the fan magazines. Then in 1975, People and the Star came out and public interest was tremendous. Now it's really crazy. It's overboard. There are too many photographers, there's too many p.r. people trying to control the press and there are too many security trying to control the press. In doing so, they did great harm to my great freedom that I'd had in the past, where I could get great pictures. In photojournalism, you have to move to get the right composition, the right angle and the light, etc. My whole thing is off guard, spontaneous, unrehearsed. Nowadays, if you cover a premiere, you're lucky just to get in the front row. The conditions are much more difficult and the likelihood is that everyone gets the same picture with the celebrity smiling perfectly into the camera. A lot of the celebrity photographers who get inside of the events, Patrick McMullan, Ocean Drive, all those magazines, they get inside and what do they do? They shoot the stars like 'look at me' and you see the faces straight on.
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