Unless you're blind, you undoubtedly saw Britney's bits flashed all over the internets last week. We certainly did, and it's haunted our dreams ever since. But we wondered about the logistics of a crotch shot. Are they, like, encouraged by sleazy photo agencies out to make a buck? Do celebs always know what's going on, or are they truly shocked—shocked!—to discover their undercarriages hanging out all over the tabloids (and everywhere else)? And so on and so forth. To answer our pressing questions, we turned to Harvey Levin, grand poobah of perpetual gossip roundup source TMZ, and a photographer from a major celebrity photo agency who asked to remain nameless. Their words of wisdom about Brit's vag after the jump.
Do photo agencies encourage the practice of getting "upskirt" photos?
Harvey: Trust us, we don't ask our photogs to go and aim up a celeb's skirt. On the other hand, if an agency comes to us with a photo of someone like Britney who knows she's being photographed and chooses to do so without underwear, that in itself is a celebrity news story.
Unnamed photog: We don't encourage but we don't discourage either.
Who generally buys these images?
H: I think photo agencies are interested in what sells—period. As for who buys them, I don't think the market is big. Britney is a unique situation but there aren't many situations like it.
Can agencies charge a premium over "regular" photos? How much does a photo like this command?
H: I don't know what these photos went for in the industry.
UP: Yes, we can charge a premium. Britney sold for around $500 a photo, and that is cheap because other photographers got it as well. If only one agency had it, it could go for triple that amount.
With the frenzy around the Britney photos, do you expect to see photogs making more of an effort to get these types of shots?
H: I don't think beaver shots are at the core of what photo agencies do. TMZ isn't going to post a celeb just because a prying paparazzi sneaks a shot. Britney was a different story because this was part of the image she tried creating. But generally, I don't think there's a lucrative market for these photos.
Are there any photogs making this a specialty that you know of? Is there any debate/friction among the photogs or agencies about these types of photos?
H: I think some photographers are seeing dollar signs after the Britney photos. I think they'll be disappointed the next time when there are no takers who will offer them money. There will always be bloggers who will happily steal these photos, but that won't line a paparazzi's pockets.
UP: No, none that I know of.
Do you think celebs do this kind of thing deliberately, or do you think it's genuinely an accident?
H: I think Britney's beaver shot was premeditated. Frankly, it baffles me that any big celebrity leaves the house without underwear.
UP: The celebs know exactly what they are doing when these photos come about.
H: I think, unlike Britney, we covered it.
Earlier: Gawker's Coverage of Britney Spears