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Book: Before The Paparazzi - 50 Years of Extraordinary Photographs by Steven P. Unger

Book: Before The Paparazzi - 50 Years of Extraordinary Photographs by Steven P. Unger

categories: Book, Paparazzi, New York City, Celebrities, Tabloids, Beatles, True Crime Stories, Cameras, Photography, Journalists, Weegee, Pulitzer Prize, Photojournalism

Steven P. Unger


Once upon a time in New York—to be exact, in the 50s and 60s— a press pass was like a key to the city, to the world of politicians, Hollywood stars, American Presidents, foreign heads of state, and Mafia dons. It got me past police barricades; they let me tag along on drug raids, and the firefighters let me walk into still-burning buildings. With "NYP" on my license plate, I could park just about anywhere. And it didn't hurt being a single guy who knew the top agents for models and actresses.

My press credentials got me past Secret Service agents and right next to JFK, Truman, and Nixon. During his Presidency, Kennedy borrowed a dime from me once to make a phone call. My sources for pictures were press agents, columnists, the waiters at Sardi's and the Stage Deli, even the Broadway detectives who once made arrests while one of them drove Milton Berle's limo. I had access, and everybody benefited. The movie star got publicity, and I got my pictures for the paper, whether it was a front page picture for the next morning, or a set of pictures for a feature story in the Saturday magazine section.

Nothing of that world—the world of photojournalism before the paparazzi—exists anymore. And it never will again. Today a press pass means nothing and gets you nowhere.

Anybody can TAKE a picture—but it takes something more to MAKE a picture.



• "Arty Pomerantz’s photographs give a voice to a New York that now lives in the minds of those who were there. Before the Paparazzi showcases these memories so that others can see the New York of yester-year. A time of growth and civil unrest. A time of celebrity and the height of organized crime. A time when pictures were not merely taken, but made."
Renee C. Fountain, New York Journal of Books

• "Working at night, he never knew what he might be shooting — a fancy fund-raiser, a politician, or a crime scene. Pomerantz hustled to crime scenes, fires, and murders; his pictures might show up in the next day’s paper. These times no longer exist in New York. It is no longer the “naked city,” as Weegee called it. But we have these pictures and stories."
Phil Semler, Sacramento Book Review

• "For a nostalgic look back through more recent American history, for a close-up study of some truly remarkable photographs, and for an interesting narrative about the stories within and behind the photographs, you should read Before the Paparazzi. It’s an American treasure."
Paula Day, The Copperfield Review

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