tagging the paparazzi

Every once in a while I’ll catch a few minutes of a show like TMZ where they’ll have video footage of a celebrity being followed (actually usually “preceded” since the photogs are shooting the celeb from the front) by throngs of paparazzi and I think of how annoying it has to be for a celebrity who is honestly not seeking attention to find him or herself in such a situation. Suddenly they have to be on their best behavior when just grabbing a cup of coffee. Most of the photographers would love a bad reaction from the celeb, after all.

Every so often a celeb will make a feeble attempt to turn the tables — photographing the photographers or something. But obviously this means little to the paparazzi. Recently after seeing some footage like that, I remembered a gadget called the Fulgurator that Wired and Boing Boing covered. It projects graffiti (invisible to the eye of the cameraman) onto photographs. The intention of the creator was a sort of stealth street art — he projected messages into strangers’ photos.

But could celebrities (or anyone) who didn’t want to be photographed use such a device defensively? Could the Fulgurator “brand” the photos of paprazzi so they were unsellable? People magazine isn’t going to buy a photograph of Britney Spears if it has the words “This photo was taken by a cocksucker” on it. So until that invisibility cloak becomes commercial, maybe the Fulgurator is a useful weapon to protect celebrity privacy.