The magazines often don't waste a minute, and the deal-making can start long before the baby is born. A publicist for a major actress who gave birth this year says one magazine made a $1 million offer for the baby photos mere hours after the star announced she was pregnant. Says Motamedi, "You contact their publicist by phone, and you always ask if there will be a [free] handout photo of the baby picture or would they be interested in doing a photo shoot with Getty. In that case, you end up talking about a photographer who you think is good. You talk about the stylist, the hair, the makeup."
The deals can be done a number of different ways. Sometimes stars will work with a photo agency like Getty or WireImage, which will stage the shoot and then auction off sales of the pictures to magazines. Other stars will deal directly with the magazines, agreeing to one publication's exclusive photo scoop. Another strategy is a revenue-sharing agreement in which a magazine or a photo agency pays up front for the shoot and then splits the proceeds of the sales to other publications with the parents.
For decades People was the main buyer of celebrity pictures. But in 2002, when editor in chief Bonnie Fuller retooled Us Weekly as its direct competitor, photographers say they saw prices for all photos rise. And then in 2005, with the entry of OK! into the U.S. market, that tabloid's open policy of paying for stories and photos (long accepted in Europe) lifted the floodgates.
Aside from Shiloh, other recent offspring People has deemed cover-worthy include that of Desperate Housewives' Marcia Cross (photos that a competitor says went for $600,000) as well as Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey. Us Weekly, meanwhile, has featured the newborns of Tori Spelling and Melissa Etheridge, and OK! has done the same with Sheryl Crow and Spice Girl Melanie Brown.
Whether the parents pocket the money or pledge the proceeds to charity (as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie famously did), the stars and their publicists generally defend their decision to sell official baby portraits in the name of privacy, ironically, since releasing an official baby picture drives down the value of any subsequent paparazzi shots. Kevin Mazur, a cofounder of WireImage, says that Courteney Cox and David Arquette's decision to participate in an official first photo shoot with his agency (the pictures ran first in People) makes a good case in point. "I pulled up and I saw three guys in cars sitting in front of the house. They saw me coming, and they all recognized me," he recalls with a chuckle. "All of sudden the three cars took off!
"It makes sense for these people," Mazur continues. "Imagine being a celebrity. You have all these animals trying to get a photo of your kid. You have to be worried about some guy jumping in front of you or chasing you in a car. Why let some guy on the street get the money?"