Guest Star: "My Approach W/ Artists Is Trying To Do Something Nobody Else Would Have Done"
Wednesday, Nov 24, 2010 8:00AM
[Flashing Lights: California-based photographer Garry "Prophecy" Sun gives the inside scoop on his life as a paparazzo who's captured shots of hip-hop's finest- in a unique way.]
Besides being a photographer, I am a hip-hop artist myself. I have a video I am trying to track down right now, from my collection of clips with Nas where he started rolling up a joint outside of a club and I started kicking his "Take It In Blood" verse off of It Was Written. I said, "Blood Shot/Red eyes hot," and then Nas started rhyming with me. So for me, my work is not about a picture, but it's about trying to do something that nobody else would have done right then and there. After that rap with Nas was done, he said "Man, nobody has ever [recited] that verse in my whole entire career." Nas gave me props for that.
The same thing [happened] with my recent interaction with Diddy. Diddy had come through to an event and photographers were trying to talk to him about Russell Brand and Katy Perry getting married, those types of questions. He walked right by and ignored them. But what I did, I came up to him and said, "D to the I to the D-D-Y, you'd rather see me die than see me fly." And so he turned around and said, "Thank you, I appreciated that." He was only there for 20 or 30 minutes and later he came out and said, "Yo, I want to show you all how much I appreciate y'all." And then he gave out about $600. That segment got used on TMZ the next night but they didn't put on the part where I spit out one of his verses. Who is to say if I hadn't done that, would he have still given out that $600?
My approach with artists is trying to do something that nobody else would have done in those moments. Being a true lyricist and hip-hop artist, your mind starts to work in various ways. I started doing my hip-hop stuff about five years ago when I was covering shows for Ice Cube and G-Unit and because of my skill as a lyricist, I have the ability to spark interest into whatever it is that we talk about. When I started working for TMZ on more of the paparazzi side, that was one of the things I brought to the table. Since I am so immersed into the pop culture world and of course my real core is hip-hop, I have that ability to tap into whatever is going on.
Another example is a segment which went up on TMZ where Jay-Z and Rihanna were hanging out a few months after the whole Chris Brown domestic violence situation went down and the swine flu was pretty big. Every photographer there was trying to throw questions out to Jay and he never talks to anybody and then I go, "Is it true that Chris Brown originated the swine flu?" And that resulted in him laughing. He couldn't even help it, he had to laugh. So because I am a hip-hop lyricist and in to freestyling, that's like a mental exercise and for me to come up with a joke on the fly, that's like nothing. That's like slow motion for me.
When it comes to spotting these celebrities in regular spots, those are easy. It really comes down to the whole music industry being connected. People get confused, thinking just because we're dudes in the streets that we're not connected. That's wrong. All of my working relationships come from publicists, management. I have a really good relationship with tons of media because I have been in good relationships with a lot of these companies. I know some celebrities myself because over the past 3 to 5 years, they end up seeing me all the time. I've been in people's houses, kicked it with them, and it's been cool.
Check out some of Garry "Prophecy" Sun's work below:
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Flashing Lights' next feature, Johnny Nunez, as he reflects on his historic Nas/Jay-Z VIBE Magazine cover.
Garry "Prophecy" Sun is a former TMZ employee who has made a name for himself on the paparazzi circuit. Although he is looking to leave the photography world for a career in hip-hop, Sun has snapped published shots of Jay-Z, Rihanna, Diddy, Nas, Mike Tyson and more.