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The Real Stories Behind 7 Amazing Shots by Celebrity Photographer Ron Galella

How a major Hollywood paparazzo got up close and personal with Mick Jagger, Jackie O, Al Pacino, and other publicly hounded stars.


"I was always interested in celebrity," says Ron Galella, the paparazzo who was responsible for some of the most memorable photographs in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. "I think we all are. We admire them. We want to be rich or famous like them, in a way. And most of all, we're curious to see how are they in real life." More than anyone else, he managed to document the breadth of the glamorous, banal, and sometimes just plain weird world that reigned in New York at that time.

There he is wearing a football helmet behind Marlon Brando, who had broken Galella's jaw with a vicious punch. Jackie Kennedy, his favorite target, took out a restraining order against him. But Andy Warhol, another artist fascinated by fame, loved him, calling Galella his favorite photographer. "I like to capture famous people as they are—not what we see, the superstars on the screen in makeup and lighting. They're really not playing themselves. I want to capture the real themselves."

In anticipation of the release of his latest book, Ron Galella New York, we asked him to tell us the stories behind some of his most famous New York City moments.

See more of Ron Galella's images at District M, located in the ROW NYC hotel, which houses the only digital gallery of the photographer's work. Ron Galella New York is available for purchase at Iconic M in the ROW NYC as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other select booksellers.

Al Pacino, Scarface premiere after party, 1983
"I have a technique for getting good pictures, and the technique is this: when they come out, you go in the street and shoot over the limousines. That way you have no cops in front of you. This was at the Scarface premiere party at Sardi's. The PR guy had kicked me out because he thought I was too wild and uncontrollable, but there's another picture I got right in through the car window with Pacino and his girlfriend at the time, Kathleen Quinlan. My picture ran double page in People Magazine because their photographer was inside. They got the cast. But they didn't get the girlfriend and I got her. So sometimes it pays to be outside."

Photographs courtesy of Ron Galella and Damiani.
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