It was the “get” of the week: the first picture of Hannah Davis’ engagement ring from Yankee icon Derek Jeter.
“I was looking for them since the engagement rumors started,” said paparazzo Miles Diggs, who runs 247Paps.TV with his partner, Cesar Peña.
They monitored Twitter and Instagram for sightings until “she finally slipped up,” Diggs said.
On Halloween night, Davis posted a photo to Instagram: her dressed as an angel in a pink wig; him in a devil costume.
Although she didn’t name the hotel, Diggs noticed distinctly patterned carpet and curtains in the background. He trawled Midtown hotel Web sites until he found rooms advertised with the same interior design.
The next morning, he posted himself outside the hotel.
“He came out first, then she finally came out and showed off that big ring,” Diggs recalled.
Snap! A $25,000 picture.
‘It’s all a hustle’
Diggs and Peña are a new breed of paparazzi, cursed and blessed by social media. Celebrity selfies and fan-snapped shots on the Internet have cut the prices they can charge for their pictures. But those tweets and Instagrams and Facebook posts allow them to track down and trail boldfaced names like never before.
“It’s all a hustle,” said Peña, 37, who lives in Harlem with his wife and 7-year-old daughter. He used to work in security at the Waldorf Astoria hotel before watching an E! network show, “Celebrity Uncensored,” which motivated him to pick up a $400 Canon video camera and start taping celebs in 2006.
Diggs, 21, joined him three years ago. Until then, he was a fan-turned-autograph hunter. He realized that while stars could turn him down for a signature, he didn’t need their permission to take their photo in public. He dropped out of studying photojournalism at NYU and has been working full time as a paparazzo ever since.
“A picture that now costs $400 was worth $15,000 to $20,000” before Instagram, Peña said. “It was harder to get pictures, harder to get stories.”
When one of Nicki Minaj’s dancers posted a photo to Instagram of a rehearsal at a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with the caption “Feeling Myself” (the song Minaj recorded with Beyoncé), Diggs and Peña were able to get photos of both divas leaving the studio that night.
After Alicia Keys uploaded Instagram photos about training for the New York City Marathon, the paps headed to her New Jersey home to catch her out for a morning run.
When Kylie Jenner recently uploaded an Instagram photo of herself with model Hailey Baldwin in a fashion-shoot trailer, Diggs recognized the street and a shop in the background. He headed to the Bowery.
“We were sitting there behind the trailer before she even came out,” he said.
“Snapchat is a celebrity’s worst nightmare right now because I have an eye like a hawk,” Diggs said.
A star will post a picture of their hotel room’s view, and “by the time [they] get dressed, I’m already there,” he said.
The duo also searches Twitter for celebrity names or for phrases like “just saw Beyoncé,” “Jennifer Aniston is at” and “spotted Jennifer Aniston.”
Tricks of the trade
The practice of slipping $50 bills to doormen and bouncers for info is “a very LA mentality,” said Diggs, and not how the New York City paparazzi scene works.
Every day, Diggs and Peña do laps around Soho and the West Village, passing the major hotels — The Greenwich Hotel, The Mercer and the Trump Soho. They also have a mental map of the stars’ haunts and their homes — Taylor Swift and Beyoncé in Tribeca, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in Soho, Rihanna in Chinatown.
Many of their tips come from what Diggs and Peña call their “little agents,” a half-dozen teens and college kids they’ve befriended who stalk celebs to take selfies with them.
No cash is exchanged, but Diggs and Peña will tip off the little agents when they spot their favorite celebrities.
“Their cut is being part of my crew. And they understand that,” Peña said.
“We have different agents for different people,” Diggs said.
“If they’re going to wait 10 hours to meet Justin Bieber, they can keep an eye on Justin Bieber while we’re on Rihanna. And if Justin Bieber happens to come out, they get their photos, and if they’re there, they’ll take video for us. Because we told them where Justin Bieber was to begin with.”
Diggs and Peña also recognize the stars’ drivers. They can guess who is in the club or restaurant by the car outside.
Recently, a magazine writer tipped them off that Kourtney Kardashian’s baby daddy, Scott Disick, was in town, so the pair monitored his usual haunts.
But Diggs was actually expecting singer Demi Lovato to emerge from the Trump Soho when he saw Disick step out — with an 18-year-old model .
“Boom. He just walked out the front door with a girl. As soon as they saw me, they split apart,” recalled Diggs, whose “eyes lit up with dollar signs.”
“If you’re friends with somebody, you keep walking,” Diggs said. “If you’re doing something with somebody, you split apart. It’s like an automatic guilt trip. So as soon as you see that, you know. They’re telling me that they’re sleeping together.”
Diggs and Peña followed the coy couple for five hours, waiting until Disick no longer suspected paps on their trail.
Finally, around midnight, they spotted the pair leaning on each other and play-fighting in a bar. They took their shots through their car window.
And they made sure not to create a stir, fearing it would bring attention to the couple — and spoil their exclusive.
“When you have something of that much value, after a while, it’s not about shooting more . . . it’s about protecting them from being seen,” Diggs said.
“Everybody with one of these is the enemy,” he said, holding up his iPhone. “I could shoot, with this huge camera right here, a crazy exclusive. A lady walks by — ‘Oh, this is for my grandson’ — takes a picture with her flip phone. We’re screwed.”
So Diggs and Peña waited until the next morning to send their work in to Splash News, their agents. That photo earned them $10,000 in the first day.
A picture’s worth
Sometimes finding celebrities is sheer luck.
On a recent Wednesday, the pair was driving around in their tinted-windowed Chevrolet SUV when they spotted actor Bradley Cooper and his model girlfriend, Irina Shayk, walking down the street. The couple hadn’t been photographed together in months.
Diggs jumped out to follow on foot, trying to get ahead of them so he could photograph their faces.
“I got one or two frames, and they were off running,” he said.
It was a bizarre game of hide-and-seek, with the lovers trying to outrun the pap and ducking behind cars, and Diggs doing the same so they’d think he left.
Exclusives earn the most cash. One of the final video interviews with actor Philip Seymour Hoffman earned $6,000 to $7,000 for them after his death. Footage of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson kissing in a car brought in $20,000. A recent exclusive of Rihanna in a Chelsea art gallery with artist Mr. Brainwash brought in $5,000.
Their biggest “get” ever was a photo and video of Beyoncé, Jay Z and Solange emerging from The Standard hotel in 2014 — right after Solange and the rapper’s elevator brawl.
After identifying Jay Z’s car by its driver, Diggs and Peña had set themselves up behind it to get the best angle. As a result, they were the only fotogs out of the dozens there to get a clear shot of all three celebs as they walked out the door.
Once leaked video of the brawl made news, Diggs’ and Peña’s shots were in high demand. Within a day, the footage brought in $35,000. Over a year, it has netted them $100,000.
What would be the greatest celebrity shot ever?
Easy: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston having coffee together. They haven’t been seen together since their 2005 divorce.
“That’s like $500,000!” Diggs marveled.
“At least!” Pena laughed. “That’s the dream of all times.”
Source: http://nypost.com/2015/11/08/paparazzi-reveal-secrets-of-tracking-stars-on-social-media/ By Amber Jamieson