As we have previously pointed out, we now live in a 24 hour news cycle, in a society that is obsessed with celebrity. It’s gotten to the point where celebrities have practically no expectation of privacy, even in sensitive or vulnerable moments. Unwelcome photos are now so ubiquitous, there have been numerous lawsuits filed by paparazzi for celebrities attacking them after unwillingly having their photograph taken.
This certainly isn’t a new development in our culture, either. Over 13 years ago, Princess Diana was killed as her limousine attempted to get away from paparazzi trying to snap a photo. That said, if there is a demand for a product, such as these photos, there is money to be made.
It’s difficult to fault the cameramen and women who work for the growing list of gossip magazines and websites. The public wants to see images of those who we perceive to be famous, and will pay to see it. Of course, it stands to reason that as long as the photographers show respect for the person’s image they are trying to capture, celebrities would understand that having your picture taken is just something that comes with the job.
One photographer, however, was anything but respectful toward Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. As she was boarding a helicopter in Australia last month, the blades of the helicopter blew her dress up in the back and exposed her backside. A German newspaper had no qualms publishing the photo (censored version below).
How could this possibly be considered worthy of publication?
This isn’t the same as posting photos of a celebrity in a skimpy outfit at an awards ceremony. This is a woman who is simply walking with her husband to board a helicopter. While it’s true paparazzi have a job to do, there should be a line of privacy that we as a society simply don’t cross — and this photo most certainly goes over that line.
After the picture was taken, the entrepreneurial photographer shopped the shot around to to the highest bidder. When no paper in Britain would publish the photo, it was picked up by the German newspaper, who also accompanied the photo with some crude captions, such as:
“Thank the wind for the insight into the royal household.”
“The royal helicopter rotor blades swirled up the air so that Kate’s summer dress began blowing upwards -affording us a glimpse of her beautiful bum.”
“Never have we been so thankful to a helicopter for creating such a wind.”
This isn’t the first time this kind of incident has affected the Duchess, as the royal family sued a photographer for standing hundreds of yards away with a telescopic lens to photograph her on a vacation in France in 2012. While all people of a certain level of fame should understand that a camera could be on them at all times, it’s a shame that no courtesy can be shown to these people during a clearly vulnerable moment.
While it is terrible that this photo, as well as the French vacation photos, were published, it should be noted that the photographs from both instances were refused by all of the newspapers in Britain. British publications declined to print either of them out of respect to the Royal Family. There is something to be said for that and the British press should be applauded for taking the high ground.
The British example should serve as a lesson to the worldwide press going forward: if you want to build a reputation as a news source, first you must earn trust and respect, not just from your readers, but from your subjects as well. It’s simply impossible to do so by violating an individual’s privacy.