January 2008 – Here Come The Venice Papaprazzi!

By Karl Abrams

Whether it’s a local red carpet event with cameras flashing or a Venetian bohemian reading poetry on the beach, the photographers of the Venice Paparazzi will probably be there, enthusiastically snapping spontaneous photos that are, if you have no objections, blended together into a beautifully crafted internet web site (venicepaparazzi.com) for all to see. Here you will have your instant place in Venice history and even–if you want– a new sense of feeling like a celebrity.
The Beachhead recently interviewed the team members of the Venice Paparazzi.  What became clear in the interview was their collective vision to make everyone in Venice feel important, in whatever they do.  Each member of the paparazzi team seem to delight in this endeavor with artistic dedication.

They are not the paparazzi that many people might picture however. They don’t jump out of shadowy hiding places to scare the likes of Princess Diana. The staff of the Venice Paparazzi have a much different style and a way of making everybody feel comfortable right away. And they don’t bug you like a relentless mosquito, even though the word paparazzi actually means “mosquito” (in a dialect of Italian) and Fellini first used it as the name of a nervous photographer in La Dolce Vita.

Be it at art openings or business parties, weight lifting or skate boarding, competitive sports, or just hanging out on the boardwalk — their photographs are about the people of Venice expressing themselves. Edizen Stowell and her team want their web site to become the first and foremost source of photographic information about the people that make up our one-of-a-kind community.

Edizen founded the Venice Paparazzi (VP).  It originally started off as Edizens.com in May 2006. The name was changed 5 months later to VenicePaparazzi.com to make it easier for people to remember.

She explained how her team is determined to artistically document the evolving phenomenon of Venice on their online photo album.

Her husband Alex, a Soviet strength training specialist and professional extreme metal musician is also a cofounder of the VP. Their photo careers began in 2003 when they opened their “photo booth” on the west side of the Venice beach boardwalk where they sold photo key chains and prints to locals and tourists alike. Alex sees their present web site as a natural extension of their photo booth. The web site offers photographs of the Venice lifestyle and culture, a Calendars of Events, Recommended Things to Do, Interviews and Spotlights, as well as local business and artist Directories. You can even download event registration forms for Venice Recreation and Parks.

VP now does video as well in a rather unique way.  In the tradition of soapbox orators, VP brings a “speakers corner” to Venice where locals can express their opinions on current events.  If you are interested in speaking your mind, visit the VP “Outdoor Studio” set up on the Venice beach boardwalk every second Sunday of the month between 1-4 PM.  All videos will be uploaded on the VP site, You Tube, and MySpace.

VP also uses video to highlight local businesses and organizations, as well as artists and community members. Other local photographers and videographers who share VP’s love of the “Spirit of Venice” have been quick to join in.

J. Grant Buckerfield, Aoy Austin, Jackie Burke, Jackie Martin and Sara Gepp are four more photographers on the team who bring in their own special touch.

J. Grant’s specialty is in graphic design, photography and film production. When he’s not taking shots for the Venice Paparazzi, he’s writing soundtracks for TV and film under the name “Big Noise” (www.bignoise.tv).  The ex-BBC radio producer has written music for top TV shows and has worked with some of the UK’s top DJs including Pete Tong and Fatboy Slim. His creative talents will help VP grow and evolve.

Aoy’s specialty is public relations and sales. She is a venture capital consultant by trade and knows how to help the VP expand.

Jackie Burke holds a B.S. from East Carolina University in film production.  Her expertise, creativeness and energetic North Carolina style works well with the VP team.

Jackie Martin, known to Venice Paparazzi as “Jaxs” is the host of VP and brings an upbeat quirkiness to interviews as she is very comfortable with people and cameras.  She loves diving into the unknown. That and her ferocious imagination is perfect for the VP.

Sara Gepp is relatively new to the VP crew.  She’s a transplanted Minnesotan who first became enchanted with Venice Beach in 1991.  Holding degrees in both fashion design and audio engineering, Sara lends a unique perspective on the Venice beach lifestyle.

Together, they offer full photographic services including red carpet events with roaming photographers, graphics expertise and layout design.

VP have also been getting enthusiastic support from local artists and musicians, as well as shop owners and boardwalk vendors. Even the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Rotary Club of Venice and the Venice Chamber of Commerce support the VP. Councilman Bill Rosendahl has expressed his enthusiasm as well.

Although only in their first year, the VP have already been presented with a “Certificate of Appreciation” expressing the gratitude of the Los Angeles City Council and paying tribute to their first year of service to the Venice community.

Now, when the VP arrive at an event, people get excited.  Here comes the Venice Paparazzi they say, let the party begin!

One question remains, however. How will future historians view the history and people of Venice as seen through the lens of the Venice Paparazzi? After studying the Paparazzi website of Venice photographs, will they get a balanced picture of the spirit of Venice? Will the homeless and the skateboarders, the artists and the poets and the beats get their recognition too alongside the upscale parties of the rich and famous? Only time will tell and the commitment of the VP to keep a balanced perspective of the uniqueness that is Venice. So far, so good. The Beachhead congratulates their efforts in being another unique way to keep the spirit of Venice alive for future generations.

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