Taglines such as ‘Stop Taking My Photo,' ‘PR Nightmare,' and ‘No Photos of My Baby' are printed on the shirts. The line debuted summer of 2005 and attracted a ton of PR. The company sold a bunch of shirts. Quips Elterman, “Granted this is somewhat of a diversion, but it was fun and made money. The word paparazzi has cache and we capitalized on this.”
Clothing fit the bill for awhile but according to Elterman, “The photo business is like The Mob -- you are in it for life.” A few years back a neighbor of his encouraged him to take out some old photos stored in boxes in his garage . Elterman started working with an artist friend to design and put together a website. The site attracted attention and led to gallery showings in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the past two years. “I'm selling my work from the 70s and 80s and find there's a whole new generation interested.
During his T-shirt and travel tenure a pal Ken Katz, who's been a paparazzo for several years, was prodding him to start another agency. Says Elterman, “I resisted. Another agency? I was content dabbling with gallery shows and work on the book.”
Agency Wins Again
But after taking an inventory of his desires and experiences, then assessing how to best position and market another agency (should he take it on), Elterman agreed. “My latest is Buzz Foto, LLC and it's different,” he says. “Traditional agencies used to work with huge expenses such as office staff, dupes, maki ng prints and air freight. This time around I have one partner, freelancers, and an outside accounting firm that deals with invoicing and payment tracking. We want to make sure the photographer gets every yen, euro, dollar they are entitled to.”
Continues Elterman, “We rely on Digital Railroad, an online service, for photo production. I do the selling and am in heaven. No events or red carpet stuff, mostly paparazzi photos which I feel are a form of art. Paparazzi today is cool, sexy, and chic. Take a look at the pages of US and People Weekly .”
The goal for Buzz Foto is to be the William Morris of the photo agency world: to fight for the top dollar and work with only reliable and professional photographers (who follow California laws). “Buzz Foto will do well because it's managed by professionals,” says Elterman. “A great deal of the paparazzi agency world is run by totally unprofessional people who don't hire real photographers. The shooters are not trained and many have nothing to lose when it comes to pulling daring tactics.”
Elterman has been able to thrive in an industry influenced by paparazzi-style tactics by setting higher standards, taking advantage of technology and figuring out what's needed. Building personal rapport that works has been a mainstay for his career as he continues to seek out emerging talent and explore new photography ventures.
Brad Elterman ( www.bradelterman.com ), based in Los Angeles, California, landed a published image of Bob Dylan at age 16 and traveled the world as a freelance photographer covering The Ramones, KISS, The Sex Pistols, Queen, Blondie, the Bay City Rollers, Abba, The Who, Joan Jett, Jackie Onassis, and Frank Sinatra between 1974 and 1980. He founded the Los Angeles-based photo agency California Features International, Inc., co-founded Online USA, Inc., one of the first digital photo agencies purchased by Getty Images in 2000, and is currently a consultant with his third agency Buzz Foto, LCC ( www.buzzfoto.com ).