Tazio Secchiaroli was an Italian photographer known for being the 'designated leader of the pack' of the original paparazzi and subsequently a model for the character 'Paparazzo' in Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita, 1960. Believing that a picture is a stolen moment from life, he wanted his photos full of action and in defense of his aggressive photographic style, he has said, the day photographers will no longer be after you, you'll be after them!
Starting out taking photos of tourists and American soldiers on the streets of Rome, Secchiaroli quickly realized it was more profitable to sell photographs of celebrities to the newspapers. Knowing journalists were constantly searching for a fresh angle, Secchiaroli decided to stage confrontations with his celebrity prey -- an alarming flash, an overturned table, a starlet on the run -- creating little incidents, as he says in ''Tazio Secchiaroli: Greatest of the Paparazzi', to ''produce great features that earned us a lot of money.'' And, not so incidentally, earning the 'victim' a lot of press coverage, thus satiating all parties involved. He and his fellow photographers, Sergio Spinelli, Velio Cioni and Elio Sorci, would chase celebrities on their Vespas and try to photograph them unawares. Secchiaroli found that magazine editors, bored with staged portraits, would pay dearly for what he called surprise pictures of stars, especially if they were caught in compromising positions.
After Fellini based his character 'Paparazzo' on Secchiaroli, in La Dolce Vita, his reputation soared. Various filmmakers and stars, including Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, used him as their personal photographer, and in this capacity Secchiaroli turned into the star's companion and confidante. Ironically, a film that reflected Paparazzo's-- and thus Secchiaroli's-- 'other' or 'outsider' status in the celebrity world was enough to grant him unrestrained access inside it. For the next twenty years, Sophia Loren took Secchiaroli with her around the world, and on these voyages the former was privy to snap the portraits of many other international stars. Retiring in 1983, Secchiaroli saw three solo exhibitions of his work at such notable places as the Photology Gallery in Milan and the Palazzo delle Stelline.
In this photograph Bardot relaxes between takes for Jean Luc Godard's 1963 film, Le Mepris. This was one of the first films in which Bardot gets to play a more serious role. Starring alongside Michel Piccoli and Fritz Lang, Bardot moves from feelings of tenderness to contempt for her script-writer husband (Piccoli). Piccoli had been liaising with an American film producer and a German director (Lang acting as himself) on commercialising the script to a modern version of Homer's Odyssey. Early in the film, Bardot ends up feeling taken advantage of when it seems Piccoli is using her beauty to seduce the producer in order to glean more money for his re-scripting of the Odyssey. Eventually, Bardot and the producer are killed in a car crash which symbolically frees Piccoli from film script writing to follow his less lucrative but more creative passion for theatre script writing.
The photos Secchiaroli took with free reign on legendary Cinecitta studio sets, offer glimpses into a world where film goers are not usually allowed. In the photographs of Brigitte Bardot on the set of Jean Luc Godard's Le Mepris, not only can we see the talent of Secchiaroli as a photographer but we are also afforded a glimpse into Jean Luc Godard's creative process via the body of Bardot. Through Secchiaroli's unconventional voyeurism, we are afforded a one of a kind perspective on the making of a masterpiece.
Despite the full access he was given on set, Secchiaroli held true to his prior paparazzi aesthetics and preferred to have his photographs appear as stolen moments, or voyeuristic glimpses into the star's life. In this photograph, Secchiaroli has chosen an angle in which a white lamp obstructs the foreground. He often used this type of visual cue to give his pictures the illicit, 'stolen' character of his earlier work.