As some of the most photographed people on the planet, celebrities have a complicated relationship with paparazzi. There’s those who’ve taken it way too far over the years (who could forget Nicole Kidman being run down by one riding a bike as she entered Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel in 2013). But then there’s those that are trusted among A-listers. After all, many are aware that these pictures will live in perpetuity on social media, magazines and pop culture history.
One of the most highly sought after paparazzo is Miles Diggs, aka Diggzy, who has even become recognisable in his own right. If you don’t know the name, you’ll definitely know his photos.
The New Jersey native has lensed some of the most iconic staged paparazzi photos, from Rihanna’s Harlem-based pregnancy announcement (you know, the one with the Christian Lacroix gemstone crucifix necklace draped over her bump), as well as her most recent family pictures which feature her second son, Riot Rose. It’s the first time the baby has appeared in photos intended for release to the public.
Here the popstar poses alongside A$AP Rocky, with the 16-month-old in a dungarees and wrapped in a blanket. In other shots she is posing in front of a car with their other son RZA adorably sitting on Rocky’s shoulders.
“Rihanna is unbeatable,” the 28-year-old told Vogue in a 2021 interview. “People like that make my job easier. You can’t get a bad photo of her, even if you try!”
“I think in general we just wing it every time,” Diggzy added of their creative process. “That’s part of the beauty. Rihanna is no-frills and extremely down to earth. It just further proves she doesn’t need a 30-person production to create a vision,” he continued.
Of the shoot for her first pregnancy announcement, he added: “Avoiding being recognised was the toughest part, especially in the heart of Harlem. But it’s Rihanna, she gets the shot perfectly in seconds.”
It’s not just Rihanna who has Diggzy on speed dial. He’s also the go-to guy for Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Drake. All of whom tap up the photographer for street style photographs in his signature high-flash, candid style.
However, it’s his attitude towards his subjects that seals the deal. “He’s so nice,” a Hollywood source explained to Grazia on why he’s managed to infiltrate the upper echelons of the celebrity world.
While there is a history of invasive image capture of celebrities unaware, some of which go on to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, Diggzy remains grounded and respectful in approaching celebrities. Whether it’s always asking for consent before taking someone’s photos, keeping their whereabouts confidential, or going the extra mile to make sure the lighting, angles and composition are right — each of his subjects is guaranteed to enjoy the process of being shot, and more importantly, the outcome.
The young creative has always been interested in cameras. He began photographing youth baseball games and athletic events from as early as 11, soon realising he could flip the images of the players to their parents for a healthy profit. He though he would go into sports photography, and even briefly pivoted into the autograph sales ecosystem, which sees individuals pay top dollar for the right celeb signature.
It was a chance encounter with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz in 2012 that kick started his celebrity photographer career. “I came across them in SoHo, but I didn’t have anything for them to sign,” explained Diggs in the 2021 Vogue interview. “I thought, okay, let me try and take their photo, which caught them off guard a little because I didn’t know what I was doing. Alicia was just so dope about everything. She said, ‘Alright, but just let me fix my hair first!’ So I waited and it turned out great.”
From there he began to build up rapport with other celebrities, and it wasn’t long until his reputation as the guy to get photographed by was known throughout the industry. In fact, he even made an exclusive deal with photo agency Shutterstock to only upload his highly coveted images through them. A clear sign=-off on his talent.
Now based in Los Angeles, the home of entertainment, Diggzy remains an important bridge between superstars and social media, with his own personal Instagram gaining over 306K followers over the years.
Thanks to him we have that viral image of Rihanna’s blinged-up bump, as well as countless celeb street style photos. And who wants to live in a world deprived of that?