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Exclusive: Ron Galella talks photographing Jackie O and paparazzi culture today

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On April 30, paparazzi extraordinaire Ron Galella celebrated of his first ever digital gallery at Row NYC hotel in Times Square. The iconic photographer also signed copies of his upcoming book, "Ron Galella New York," while the hotel showcased its Galella inspired penthouse suite, “The Paparazzi Project”, to partygoers and its dramatic 120 foot digital screen in District M bar featuring never before seen images from the man of the hour. Following the screening of the images we had the opportunity to sit down with the photographer Ron Galella for an exclusive interview.

Q: I know you had such a love for Jackie O. Why was Jackie your ideal subject, what characteristics of hers appealed to you most?

Ron Galella: Because I was obsessed with her, she physically beautiful with big eyes. She was glamorous because she was a mystery and that’s what glamour is about, mystery. She was not obvious, didn’t give interviews much, and that made her interesting. Also she didn’t stop to pose for me and didn’t pay attention to me, that’s what I like. It was great to photograph stars like that. Whereas some stars are very nice, they stop and pose, you have to say “thank you” and “goodbye” then the moment is over. With Jackie I could continue over and over because I don’t feel guilty about it.

Q: If you could have five minutes alone with Jackie O today what would you say to her?”

Ron Galella: Thank you very much for making me famous!

Q: What was the most exciting country you’ve been to when taking photos of celebrities?

Ron Galella: The most beautiful place was Hawaii. I got a sexy shot of Melissa Gilbert in a bikini. But Europe was the best because I got Jackie swimming in Skorpios, Greece, which was a great shot. I got Elizabeth Taylor in Paris, Warren Beatty, and a lot more stars in Europe. But here in New York I get the best shots because the celebrities are concentrated; they always come to New York. New York is the greatest place to shoot.

Q: If you weren't a photojournalist what career do you think you would have chosen?

Ron Galella: Maybe an actor? No maybe an artist!

Q: What do you think of the paparazzi culture today?

Ron Galella: Well I think it’s got very bad, it’s vulgar. They look for bad things and they provoke the stars. The whole industry got negative and wants to see the stars fat and ugly. I didn’t look for that; I looked for beauty on their faces and the natural expressions of celebrities.

Laura Garces contributed reporting.

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