Tazio Secchiaroli

Tazio Secchiaroli

Italian photographer, first paparazzi
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Tazio Secchiaroli
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Collaboration with Federico Fellini
  4. Personal Photographer of Celebrities
  5. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Tazio Secchiaroli

Early Life and Career

Tazio Secchiaroli, an Italian photographer considered the first paparazzo, was born in Italy in 1925. He developed an interest in photography during World War II, starting with capturing images on the streets of Rome filled with American soldiers and tourists. He later apprenticed under an experienced Italian photographer who taught him the secrets of the craft.

In the 1950s, Secchiaroli gained recognition when he opened his own photo agency called "Roma Press Photo," specializing in celebrity photography. He and his partner realized that magazines were willing to pay for exclusive photos of celebrities' personal lives and behind-the-scenes moments. This led to pursuits through the city at night, stakeouts at clubs and restaurants, and long waits outside hotels.

Collaboration with Federico Fellini

In the late 1950s, Secchiaroli had the opportunity to work with Federico Fellini during the filming of the movie "La Dolce Vita." He became Fellini's chronicler, capturing photographs of the filmmaking process. Interestingly, the film itself played a significant role in Secchiaroli's career. The main character's friend in the movie was a photographer named Paparazzo, who was inspired by Secchiaroli himself. Initially, Fellini considered casting Secchiaroli for the role, but eventually chose a professional actor. Thus, Tazio Secchiaroli became the first paparazzo in history, and his name became synonymous with the profession.

Personal Photographer of Celebrities

Following the release of "La Dolce Vita," Secchiaroli's street chronicles came to an end. He no longer needed to chase celebrities as they willingly posed for him. He became Sophia Loren's personal photographer, accompanying her around the world for nearly two decades. Even Greta Garbo invited him into her dressing room. Secchiaroli became the "court" photographer of movie stars.

There is also a fascinating story about Secchiaroli that brought him both fame and controversy. Assigned by a publisher, he traveled to an Italian province to capture an alleged sighting of the Virgin Mary by a local girl. However, instead of finding any apparition, he encountered a group of excited villagers. Secchiaroli decided not to return empty-handed and asked the villagers to pretend that they were witnessing the Madonna. The resulting photograph, titled "The Apparition of Madonna," caused a sensation when published in major magazines. The emotions captured in the photo were so intense and authentic that no one questioned the absence of the Madonna herself. The Vatican, however, strongly disapproved of the image.

Later Life and Legacy

Tazio Secchiaroli continued working as a photographer until 1983 when he decided to retire. He explained his departure, stating that photography, like any art form, demands all one's energy, and he felt his forces were depleted. For the last fifteen years of his life, he did not take a single photograph. Secchiaroli passed away on July 24, 1998.

He was known as a photographer who lived several lives, transitioning from a street photographer to a photo chronicler, scandalous paparazzo, and personal "court" photographer. However, Secchiaroli's lasting legacy lies in being the first paparazzo in history.

"We photographers were poor devils, while they had everything - money, fame, luxurious hotels. Swiss and hotel porters provided us with information and tips - you could call it proletarian solidarity," Secchiaroli once said.