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Paparazzi-style wedding photos growing popular in Korea

Posted October. 13, 2012 06:07,   


“I’d like my wedding photos taken like paparazzi shots.”

A 26-year-old bride-to-be went out in casual clothing for her wedding pictures. Wearing everyday clothes for wedding photos might seem unusual, but she wanted “paparazzi photos” for her wedding album. She went on a regular date with her fiancé as usual, talking over coffee at their favorite cafe and talking on a bus.

Three photographers of a studio that offers paparazzi photos as wedding pictures secretly followed them to take shots. The couple was paid 350,000 won (315 U.S. dollars) for the six-hour photo service and got about 2,000 pictures.

“I didn’t want my wedding pictures to be with me in a wedding dress like others because those pictures look artificial. I’m satisfied with my paparazzi shots. We look very natural in these pictures,” the woman said.

Paparazzi photo service had been popular for just special occasions such as a child’s first birthday, a few days before a woman gave birth, or a wedding. Yet Koreans now want paparazzi shots of their daily lives.

Hollywood stars might be annoyed by paparazzi, but many Koreans are willing to pay to get paparazzi shots. The price ranges from 200,000 (180 dollars) to 300,000 won (270 dollars) per hour, and Korea has about 10 companies specializing in paparazzi picture service.

With the rising popularity of paparazzi photos, the so-called route of paparazzi has appeared. The route includes good sites for picture taking in areas such as Seoul`s Insa-dong, Samcheong-dong, Montmartre Village, Gangnam station and Garosu Street. Paparazzi photo studio Paparazzi, which opened in June 2010, earns monthly revenue of 8 million won (7,200 dollars).

CEO Kwon Hong-seong, 33, said, “When we opened our studio, our customers were mainly those who were soon to be married. But nowadays we get also couples in college, middle-aged couples, and even single women asking for paparazzi shots... Discount tickets offered by social commerce businesses have helped attract younger customers.”

Utilizing the momentum of the Korean Wave, or the popularity of Korean pop culture abroad, his company launched a service with a wedding planning company that offers paparazzi shots for people from China and Japan.

Paparazzi shots now go beyond wedding halls. One photo service called “Honeymoon Snap” has photographers follow a couple on their honeymoon to take pictures of them. Such photographers stay abroad for a longer term in cities famous for honeymoons among Koreans such as Prague, Paris, Boracay and many cities in Italy. Honeymoon Snap seeks to get natural shots of couples at the beach or a city.

Experts say the rising popularity of the paparazzi photo service stems from people’s desire to impress others on their presence, and call it an advanced form of the trend of people taking their own pictures. They also say people want photographers to take good pictures of them and hope to find pretty angles that they previously were unaware of.

Gwak Geum-ju, a psychology professor at Seoul National University, said, “Koreans nowadays no longer consider celebrities as out-of-reach idols. Instead, people think anyone can be a superstar...If people are obsessed with paparazzi shots because they want to look like celebrities, then this is a problem.”