There are two kinds of still photographers at movie premieres. Those “behind the rope” or in the photo pen, as I was last night at the “Scary Movie V” premiere, and a few roaming photographers, usually shooting for the Hollywood trades (Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) or the studio in charge of the film. As you can imagine, the roaming photographers usually have to endure some truly ear-bleeding invective from those behind the line, as there is almost no feasible way not to block at least one photographer at these premieres, no matter where you stand on the carpet.
I’m sympathetic to both kinds of shooters, as I’ve been both a roamer and a behind-the-line guy throughout my career (often during the same week). If you’re on the carpet, your job is to get candid combinations of celebrities, or wide shots of the whole scene that capture the atmosphere of the premiere, i.e. shots that don’t look like they’re being shot from behind the rope, or else what’s the point? If you’re behind the rope, you are somewhat at the mercy of the roaming photographers, since you can’t move. Sometimes the roamers can park themselves right in front of you just as you’re about to nail a key photo you’re been waiting for all night. Thus the screaming insults, or at the very least, cries of persecution. When I’ve had to roam the carpet, I’ve been called names that shouldn’t be printed in any civilized forum by people who on any other day I would consider my friends. It’s just an integral part of this weird job.
When I heard about Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen showing up for the “Scary Movie V” premiere, I knew it would be a night of pure chaos. But my favorite photo of the night was this one with Mike Tyson pretending to bite off Charlie’s ear. As you can see, this happened far away from me at the opposite end of the carpet, and the roamers just swarmed in on the scene like bees. But they left just enough daylight for me to grab one good frame with my zoom lens. And I even kind of like how the foreground photographers (both good friends of mine, by the way) frame the shot and give it some context. But I know I’m in the minority here. If you’re on the carpet, you really ought to invest in a good pair of ear plugs, or else you’re going to walk around with some seriously hurt feelings. The sensitive need not apply!