When we think of the word "paparazzi," the image of a shaven headed Britney or a snapshot of Paris Hilton in her hard-partying heyday most likely comes to mind. But the majority of pap shots constitute capturing a celebrity in their "natural habitat", i.e. coming out of the gym, buying a coffee, or wearing ill-fitting jeans.
It's much less about the old Hollywood glamour à la Breakfast at Tiffany's, and more about trying to capture the celebs we obsess over as they partake in the least-starlet-like of activities.
That said, the king — and pioneer — of the paparazzo's, American photographer Ron Galella, was a totally different kettle of fish to today's shutterbugs. During the 1970s and '80s, if you were famous, Galella knew you — and you knew him. He spent his days cultivating a friendship with Andy Warhol and "stalking" Jackie O. (who sued him, twice), while his nights were filled with partying at Studio 54, capturing the likes of Diane von Furstenberg, Grace Jones and Cher in their element.
He's taken a punch to the face from The Godfather star, Marlon Brando, which ended in the bloody loss of five teeth; he's been given the finger by Mick Jagger, and been spit on by Sean Penn. You could call it commitment.
Even though he shot celebrities up-close-and-personal, his photos don’t feel like your average paparazzi shots. Rather, they read like an intimate diary, providing a rare glimpse into a glimmering moment in the life of someone rich and famous. His unfaltering pursuit of his art becomes obvious when you leaf through recently published book, “Ron Galella: New York.” We've published the 23 images from the book here, as a testament to Galella's ability to capture a side of the celebrities we know and love, that we otherwise wouldn't have seen.