NEW YORK – In Hollywood circles, it's known as the three-part photo strategy.
First, you release a free shot online, to serve as an amuse-bouche, of sorts, which Kim Kardashian did on Tuesday, sharing two wedding snaps on Instagram and via E! Online. Then, you deliver the big knockout punch with a glitzy photo spread showing the libations, gifts and prep, plus every other intricate wedding detail. And finally, you air a few tidbits on your reality show.
At least, that's what longtime publicist Howard Bragman, founder of Fifteen Minutes PR, predicts when it comes to the much-hyped and salivated-over photos from Kardashian andKanye West's lavish Italian wedding.
Nothing was left to chance, either in the Parisian party week of escargot and Valentino lunches leading up to the nuptials, or the payoff of the wedding itself. And while theKardashians and their guests chronicled their nights out in the City of Light, nothing about the wedding itself was posted until they had clearance, meaning, says Bragman, the newlyweds "did a very good job keeping it private and not having photos leak. I'm sure the photos were shopped ahead of time and there's a magazine exclusive."
And we're talking big money, he says: "Certainly it's a 7-figure deal. They sell magazines. People care. The bottom line is, people do care. They're incredibly aspirational and people want it."
That interest in her is something Kardashian has stoked for years. Jennifer Buhl, a former LA paparazzo who wrote Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood's Most Famous, says she has an arrangement with one specific photo agency to capitalize on all those shots of her out shopping or dining or going to the gym.
"She makes millions of dollars a year on her tabloid photos, which is pretty outrageous. It's not uncommon to have these relationships. She's got a really sweet deal. But she's really hot. Good for her, I guess. She was already a millionaire but now she's even richer because of her media tactics. She knows how to work the media and get famous," says Buhl.
So why release those two photos for free? Doesn't that, in essence, deflate the value of the exclusive spread? Not in the slightest, says Buhl. Just think: rather than have one multi-page photo extravaganza in one outlet, this way, their photos will run everywhere, online and in print, worldwide. And Givenchy, which created the groom and bride's attire, will benefit immensely from the free publicity.
"The two photos are a teaser. In theory, most news sources or magazine can use those photos. Most publications feel that those are free pictures. They'll use them and credit Kim's Instagram account," she says. "These photos will run everywhere and then they'll have one big spread somewhere. That was a smart strategy. A lot more people will see the wedding dress and it will elevate their fame."
Speaking of fame, it makes no difference that no major A-lister attended the gala event in Florence – Beyonce and Jay Z were no-shows. After all, going would be expensive, time-consuming and likely mandate signing over rights to appear on a reality show. We can't imagine the Carters were OK with that.
But given their combined massive net worth -- Forbes estimates that West earned $20 million between June 2012 and June 2013, while Kardashian banked $10 million -- why sell the pictures in the first place? Surely, privacy was a more appealing and fresher approach.
Oh, please. As if.
"That's not the way they lives their lives. It's just not. If they didn't do it in public, it didn't happen. That's not Kim's style," says Bragman. "It would be more surprising if they didn't release this in a big way.