In the wake of Corbis’ recent acquisition of LA celebrity photo agency Splash News, Der Spiegel reporter Philip Bethge has paid a visit to the former’s Seattle office and the latter’s Venice HQ. The result is a highly entertaining look at the business dynamics of β€œthe thugs of the telephoto lens.”

In LA, the man who makes Splash tick is British native Kevin Smith. While today’s shifting media landscape has become a revenue challenge for many outlets, it has proven to be a gold mine for savvy picture peddlers like this former London journalist. Splash revenues in the past year have grown by more than 20%. Per Bethge’s report:

The company has supplied the photography for 500 magazine covers over the last five years, Smith says, adding that Splash News sells photos in close to 70 countries. “I was amazed when we hit the million dollar [mark] in revenues,” says Smith, who drives a Bentley. “Now I am laughing about it.”

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