of the paps, by Rob Bates - 11th February 2009
was October 1983, just hours before the US-led
invasion of Grenada, and while all the other war
correspondents were waiting patiently at the Barbados
press centre, Bondi photographer Peter Carrette
was sneaking into the incursion zone under the
cover of darkness.
chartered a boat from a drug smuggler called Wadee
for five grand, and went in overnight," Carrette
said. "They were about to bomb the shit out
of it but I was too stupid to be scared, plus
I was stoned out of my tree."
the bombardment subsided and marines poured out
of the landing craft, the first thing they saw
on the beach was Carrette and his camera. "It
still makes me laugh, remembering the looks on
their faces," he said.
say that Peter Carrette has led a life less ordinary
is something of an understatement.
everything from runway shows in Paris to the war
in Nicaragua, and working with everyone from The
Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton to Bette Davis
and the Dalai Lama, Carrette said his early life
in London had yielded no hints of the adventures
was a working-class slum kid; I wasn't from the
right family and I wasn't really going anywhere,"
he said. "I'd been taking pictures since
I was 12 but I couldn't believe that people actually
got paid for that, and certainly not people like
out as a copy boy for Sir Frank Packer, Carrette
soon earned the old man's affection and was offered
a job taking pictures for a rock'n'roll magazine
in Australia. From there he realised there was
more money in shooting rock stars such as Normie
Rowe and Johnny O'Keefe, and there was no looking
had long hair, so I fitted in nicely with all
the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, I did indeed,"
a two-year stint in Paris shooting Vogue covers,
Carrette moved to Manhattan where he spent six
years chasing stories around the world.
week they'd say, 'Right, Prince Andrew's off with
a porno star in the Caribbean. Can you go there
for a week?' and I'd say, 'Yeah, I reckon I can,"
Carrette said, laughing. "Then the next week
I'd be getting shot at in Nicaragua or El Salvador."
one such assignment, Carrette was to accompany
his good friend and UN goodwill ambassador, Jack
Thompson, to repatriate 40 Cambodian orphans from
a refugee camp in Thailand to a new orphanage
in Cambodia. Little did he know the weeklong trip
by bus and train would change his life forever.
kids just adopted us; you'd wake up on the train
and this innocent little thing would be cuddled
up to you," he said.
didn't understand possessions and had nothing
of their own. You'd give them a balloon, they'd
play with it for a bit and at the next railway
station they'd give it away."
that point on, Carrette decided he would help
the kids as much as he could, and has returned
three or four times every year since.
this day, whenever Carrette is booked for an exclusive
shoot, he asks for payment to go directly to the
of Noelene Hogan's wedding earned the orphanage
$25,000 from New Idea, while Michael Caton's wedding
17 years and hundreds of thousands in donations
from Carrette and his celebrity friends, what
began as one orphanage housing 40 children has
grown into 75 separate facilities helping 3000
kids, with four of the original children helping
to run the organisation.
he's not visiting his adopted family or shooting
for other humanitarian organisations, Carrette,
now 71, manages his celebrity photographic agency,
Icon Images, from an apartment overlooking Bondi
said he resented other paparazzi who "deliberately
upset people" for better pictures, calling
them "bandits with cameras".
he admitted to one "unfortunate incident"
in 2006. Responding to what he said was repeated
"bad manners" and "abuse"
directed at a number of his staff, Carrette and
another photographer sprayed Heath Ledger with
water pistols at the Sydney premiere of Brokeback
had spat at two of my photographers, kicked a
car door and chased another down the road, so
we decided to teach him a lesson," he said.
didn't think it would cause as much fuss as it
did but it was just unacceptable behaviour and
I wanted to make a statement."
said he treated celebrities with respect. "We
don't want nasty pictures, we don't want to upset
anyone, and the ones that know me know that. I've
grown up with a lot of these people and some have
even made donations to the orphanage."