Pap snaps at the heels of stars

From week­end wed­dings to chas­ing down celebs around town

Central and North Burnett Times - - READ - BY Sally Coates

MAR­GOT Rob­bie, Chris Hemsworth, Johnny Depp, Am­ber Heard, Sa­muel L Jack­son, Barack Obama, Adele, Blake Lively, Justin Bieber, Tay­lor Swift – what do they have in com­mon?

They’re all far more fa­mous than us and they’ve all been papped by Tom De­laney.

The Gold Coast-based pho­tog­ra­pher’s feath­ers aren’t ruf­fled by the neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions as­so­ci­ated with his in­dus­try – on the con­trary, his fo­cus is clear in more ways than one.

“I do pa­parazzi on the side for two rea­sons: it’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing and you make a lot of money from it,” he says.

“But my full-time role is a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher. I do wed­dings all over the coun­try. I’m booked every week­end ba­si­cally un­til this time next year.”

Tom’s ca­reer be­gan when he was just 16. Armed with a stan­dard digital cam­era and a po­lice scan­ner ob­tained “out of cu­rios­ity”, he be­gan turn­ing up at crime scenes and shoot­ing am­a­teur footage.

His hobby caught the at­ten­tion of Chan­nel Nine, who con­tacted him ask­ing to use some footage he’d up­loaded to his MyS­pace page.

It was not long be­fore he was em­bark­ing on the six-month in­tern­ship that con­creted his pas­sion for pap­ping.

“It was a bit con­fronting (start­ing out), es­pe­cially be­cause I started at such a young age,” he says.

“But I was pretty good at it so I man­aged to make a name for my­self and it’s been on­go­ing ever since.

“I get tip-offs from cer­tain peo­ple in cer­tain places that have taken me a long time to es­tab­lish.”

While a strong net­work is cru­cial to any pa­parazzo, Tom, 24, is so well-es­tab­lished that celebrities them­selves of­ten tip him off to en­sure those no­to­ri­ously un­flat­ter­ing pho­tos don’t reach the media – think Madonna sans make-up or Or­lando Bloom’s cheeky pad­dle-board faux pas.

“I have a big net­work of peo­ple, which comes back to work­ing at Chan­nel 9, but I’ve had celebrities them­selves con­tact me as well,” Tom says.

“Some­times they tip off the pa­parazzi they know as well in or­der to get the right pho­tos out there.

“I can’t say too much. Mar­got Rob­bie used to tip me off but that stopped af­ter I papped her wed­ding.”

The Gold Coast’s hottest ex­port right now, Rob­bie and Tom had a long-stand­ing work­ing re­la­tion­ship un­til the afore­men­tioned nup­tials.

Rob­bie’s By­ron hin­ter­land wed­ding in De­cem­ber last year made head­lines world­wide and, thanks to an in­side tip, Tom was the only per­son to nab pap shots, re­sult­ing in a big pay­day.

“Mar­got Rob­bie’s wed­ding shots were up­wards of $45,000 for the exclusive,” he says.

“I was the only one with pictures of her.

“Be­cause it was a big ef­fort in get­ting those pictures ... I trekked through bush­land for more than an hour and a half, and then you’ve got to go through the process of sell­ing them, the con­tract and the le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

“I re­ceived a no­tice of cease and de­sist the next day from a so­lic­i­tor’s of­fice in LA from Mar­got Rob­bie.”

Tom doesn’t pocket the whole $45,000 though. There’s the cost of equip­ment, travel and over­heads, but there’s also a com­mis­sion in­volved for hot tips.

In this case, it went to some­one in­volved with the wed­ding who was will­ing to share those tightly held de­tails.

“It (Rob­bie’s wed­ding) was a tip-off, but in re­gards to where it came from I can’t say,” he says.

“I do a com­mis­sion for my sources de­pend­ing on how much I need it and how much it’s go­ing to pay.

“For the Mar­got Rob­bie wed­ding that per­son got cut 25%. You do pay a lot out of com­mis­sion but you have in­sights you wouldn’t have oth­er­wise.”

While Rob­bie had pre­vi­ously tipped off Tom, she des­per­ately wanted pri­vacy for her spe­cial day. So aside from the money, how does Tom jus­tify forc­ing his way into that sa­cred mo­ment?

“I am a hu­man be­ing so I un­der­stand where it comes from from their per­spec­tive,” he says.

“But as some­one once told me, once you hire PR (pub­lic re­la­tions as­sis­tant) your pri­vacy kind of goes out the win­dow.

“You hire a PR as­sis­tant to get your name out there, so if you’ve got some­one try­ing to pap your wed­ding you can’t be too an­gry. If you stay cur­rent in today’s news you make money.”

Even though Tom is ded­i­cated to his work, he’s adamant that all pa­parazzi should not be lumped into one cat­e­gory – like all pro­fes­sions, there are good and bad ex­am­ples – with Tom

I trekked through bush­land for more than an hour and a half, and then you’ve got to go through the process of sell­ing them, the con­tract and the le­gal ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

pre­fer­ring to de­scribe his style as more “hu­mane”.

“I will push to a cer­tain ex­tent,” he says.

“There are pa­parazzi out there who will go to the ex­treme to make money.

“I’ve told peo­ple if I see them at the air­port and they’re not look­ing their best I’d rather get in con­tact with them and ar­range a time to get a more flat­ter­ing photo. I’m a lit­tle bit hu­mane in that way.

“Cer­tain celebrities tip me off, so if they can con­trol the shots that get out there they will.”

That’s not to say that all celebrities are will­ing to play the game. Tom’s got the bat­tle scars and life­time bans to prove it.

“I’ve been as­saulted a few times and had my cam­eras bro­ken, but it all comes with the job,” he says.

“It de­pends who they are. Prob­a­bly the rud­est celebrity I’ve dealt with was Sa­muel L Jack­son, fol­lowed by Jar­ryd Hayne. (Hayne’s) pretty ag­gres­sive when it comes to pa­parazzi.

“And you don’t seem to deal with too many friendly res­tau­rant man­agers ei­ther. I’m ac­tu­ally banned from Koi.”

With re­al­ity show con­tes­tants on every sec­ond mag­a­zine cover, some­times you’ve got to won­der how cer­tain “celebrities” get a spot in the press. Turns out it’s not so or­ganic.

“Those lower-grade celebrities don’t nec­es­sar­ily pay to be papped, but there are peo­ple off say The Bach­e­lor and re­al­ity shows that want to get their name out there,” he says.

“They’ll tip you off and ar­range a so-called pa­parazzi shoot and also ap­prove the im­ages be­fore they go out. Then they’ll usu­ally pre­tend they had no idea.”

Con­sid­er­ing the sat­u­ra­tion of re­al­ity celebrities, it poses the ques­tion of who would pos­si­bly pay for these pictures, and why – but Tom still cashes in.

“They do still get bought be­cause they come across as a pa­parazzi-style im­age,” Tom says.

“It’s tabloid ... if they’re cur­rent in the news then peo­ple will buy them, but it also de­pends how much you’re ask­ing.

“You can’t ask for a cou­ple of thou­sand for some­one who was on The Bach­e­lor. You’d be lucky to get $500.”

De­spite the driver of that big pay day, Tom ad­mits it’s not a job for the faint-hearted.

“I think to be good at this job you need to be street­wise and con­fi­dent in your work,” he says.

“We say ‘Shoot first, ask ques­tions later.’ To in­vade some­one’s pri­vacy you have to push the bound­aries – and deal with the con­se­quences later.”

Those lower-grade celebrities don’t nec­es­sar­ily pay to be papped, but there are peo­ple off say The Bach­e­lor and re­al­ity shows that want to get their name out there.

PHOTO: TOM DE­LANEY

◗ Mar­got Rob­bie on her wed­ding day in the By­ron hin­ter­land.

PHO­TOS: TOM DE­LANEY

LEFT: Tom De­laney pho­to­graphs a ca­su­ally dressed Cate Blanchett at the Gold Coast air­port. MID­DLE TOP: Aus­tralian DJ Ha­vana Brown. MID­DLE CEN­TRE: Tom De­laney on lo­ca­tion. MID­DLE BOT­TOM: Sa­muel L Jack­son flips the bird. RIGHT: Chris Hemsworth lands at Gold Coast air­port to start film­ing of Thor: Rag­narok.

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