Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Despite the “paparazzi” phenomenon gaining popularity in the Arab world in general and in Lebanon in particular, many have speculated that the aggressive and sometimes unethical form of photo-journalism does not really exist in the Middle East.
“It is easy to expose the magazines which claim that they employ the same methods [used by the paparazzi] yet publish a string of photographs that are captured in normal circumstances and in close range, showing the target being careful in the way that he/she moves as if they are trying to pose for good shots.” says Lebanese photographer and caricaturist Stavro Jebra. “This is the clearest indication of the invalidity of their claims since the main factor of this method of photography is stealing the snapshots that do not usually exceed one or two shots, to avoid the photographer from being noticed by the target.” he added.
Jebra claims that in the majority of cases, “an agreement is established between the artist, who pays a sum of money to the media institution and the photographer so as to serve his/her interests to increase his/her popularity and the attention that is focused towards him/her.” According to a famous television figure in Lebanon, who spoke to Asharq Al Awsat on the condition of anonymity, such plans are commonplace. On the other hand, it should be noted that a lawsuit was filed by Lebanese actress Rola Chamiya and “Superstar” presenter, Ayman Al Qaysouni because “Star” magazine deliberately published a photo of them together in a public swimming pool in Lebanon.
Tariq Dahir is the Chief Editor of “Star” magazine that has adopted the “paparazzi” style. For his part, he said that the aim of this step is to present to the reader another part of the celebrity’s life that is just like any ordinary person.” Dahir believes that celebrities bring it upon themselves as they themselves chose fame, therefore, their fans have the right to know what is going on in their daily life.” Dahir also claims that his magazine is thriving as it distributes approximately 11, 000 copies weekly, in addition to the positive response of celebrities and their acceptance of the idea.
For its part, Al Jaras (The Bell) magazine, which is headed by media figure Nidal Al Ahmadieh, is famous for the scandals that it covers regarding artists and celebrities. However, Al Ahmadieh clarifies her policy regarding pictures by saying, “I like to get permission from the person being pictured before publication and this is contrary to the concept of the Paparazzi.”