Teen paparazzo gets his career started early

It’s 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night and 17-year-old Carl Wu grabs his camera and takes the passenger seat of his friend’s smart car. Carl got word that Lady Gaga is staying nearby and his mission is to get a picture of her. As they pull up next to Lady Gaga’s car, Carl pulls out his camera. A security car cuts them off and blocks his shot. Carl’s accomplice jumps the curb onto the sidewalk driving parallel to Lady Gaga, Carl zooms in and snaps the picture.

Soon the 30 million readers of OK! Magazine and People will see Carl’s work on the front cover, not knowing what adventures he took to get the shots.

Carl is one of the youngest paparazzi to get his pictures published in such major tabloids. His pictures sell for as much as $5,000. With the money he gets, he saves some of it and enjoys the rest. To celebrate his most recent birthday, he rented an apartment in downtown Manhattan for a weekend of partying.

His first job as a paparazzi came when he was 14 and his friend got him a job with the photo agency Insight News & Features. “I used to get autographs when I was 12 and sell them, then I was like f**k this cause I love photography anyway,” said Carl.

Carl switched to Fame Pictures two years ago when, according to him, INF didn’t pay him for his work because he is underage. He said they sold the pictures anyway and made money off him, so he quit and went to work for Fame where he gets paid a satisfying amount. Neither INF nor Fame would answer the phone to comment on their relationship with Carl.

Fame pays the expenses for Carl’s travel. “It’s mad fun traveling,” Carl said. “My agency put me up in Jersey Shore for a week last month.” Often these trips result in him missing school but to him, it’s worth it

When he first started he was seen as a little kid with a camera amongst his peers who are more than twice his age. “It took a while,” Carl said “but after a while they saw my shit running and actually respected me.”

He says being a paparazzi is a great job, however when he’s older he sees himself doing other kinds of photography: “I’d much rather shoot for National Geographic.” 

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Archive for College Now Journalism class.