I originally wanted to write a book with all my stories, but there’s way too many stories to be told and they are all disorganized in my head. I figured that creating a blog starting with the past and moving my way forward to the present would help me to write the book. It could also help me get the word out on my project. I apologize for any grammatical mistakes I make, any help editing is greatly appreciated as well as comments. Thanks for reading my blog!
I wrote the following on January 9th of 2011 while I was still working as a paparazzo.
How it all started
I was born and raised in Mexico until I moved to the Midwest by myself to go to college. I’m American-Mexican, meaning my mom is American and I retain citizenship though I was raised outside of the United States. I moved to the United States with my aunt at the age of 17 hoping to get a better education. I’m 6’4, white, thin, black messy hair, green eyes, scruffy facial hair and no American could ever guess I was from Mexico.
I was a Junior in college in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota, studying what I always wanted to study, Music. My brother, “Kido“, who is seven years older than me was living in Los Angeles, California working on something I’ve never even thought it existed. He worked as a paparazzo for an agency named BG and he was getting paid what he thought was decent money. I remember his first shot he ever published, Renee Zelwegger arriving at LAX, almost in the last page of People magazine. I bought the magazine and showed it to my friends. It seemed really odd that my brother was taking pictures of celebrities and making a living out of it, who knew I was going to be next. By the end of Junior year, I needed a summer job, I was about to turn 21 and I wanted to spend senior year with some cash in my pocket. My brother invited me to come live for the summer in LA. I took his offer and flew as soon as my classes were done. Every summer before my Junior year I kept going home to Mexico, that summer it all changed.
Here I was on a one way flight to California, a place I’ve never been but have always wanted to live in, especially after 4 years in the midwest. I flew Sunrise airlines, the ticket was exactly $120, it was pretty uneventful. I arrived to LAX terminal 3, without knowing that later I would be visiting the airport so often, to the extent that I still know every single corner. My ideal plan for the summer was to spend it in LA getting gigs as a classical guitar player somewhere, and if that wasn’t possible, I could always work as a waiter or do some other low paying jobs. After all, I’ve never had a real job besides my work-study in college and I just wanted some extra cash for my Senior year.
Kido was waiting outside the rotating doors on the lower level on Terminal 3. He had an airport Smarte-Cart with him with a bag on it and he is holding a small video camera with a bright light shining directly on my face. He is already recording, and I really hate being on film. I plea for him to stop recording, but he thinks its amusing and with older brother nature he keeps bugging me. He finally stops filming and I hug my oldest brother who now seems like a distant relative. Its been more than a couple of years since I saw him last and there’s a seven-year age-gap between us. We were never really that close like me and my other brother Li who is only 2 years older than me. After the hug and the excitement we walked to the parking lot where his grey Honda Element was parked. I don’t think I look like my brother, though people think otherwise. He sort of looks like a Jesus, I guess we both do when we have long hair and full grown beards.
Its past midnight, he drove to his studio apartment where I’m staying for the summer. It happens to be located in Beverly Hills and I didn’t know this, how exciting. Of course, not all of Beverly Hills is huge houses and luxury apartments, he lives “under the tracks”, referring to the train tracks that were once used by the old Redline stocker that divides Beverly Hills into two. You can say the south side is the shitty side, mostly offices and tiny apartments excluding The Beverly Hotel and the Beverly Hilton. His studio is tiny, not enough space for two people to live in. As soon as you walked in, there’s his bed to the left against the entrance wall, a couch next to the bed pointing to the wall opposite of it, which has a bookcases filled with things my brother likes to collect. You don’t have to take more than three steps to make it to the kitchen, which barely fits a refrigerator, the sink and stove. To the right of the kitchen there’s a tiny walk in closet that leads to a tiny bathroom. After living in the dorms in college this didn’t seem bad, but working and living together is completely different.
We were ready to go to bed and right before falling asleep, Kido gets a call from his boss telling him that Hilary Duff is at some club and that he should cover it. He loves his job, so he is ready to head out, but then decides to stay because he is too tired to work after working all day and then picking his little brother up from the airport. His boss tells him not to worry, that he will get someone else to cover it.
The following morning, it wa s my brother’s day off and the plan was he would show me around before town for places to find a job. When he suddenly gets a call on his nextel. Its his co-worker “Salvador“, he followed Ryan Philippe to an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills called “Pastaio“. Kido asks me if I want to go and I say “sure”. I’ve never seen a celebrity before, this sounded like it could be fun, though I had no idea who Ryan Philippe is. We get inside his Honda Element which is packed with random stuff that my brother likes to collect. There’s two In-N-Out red baskets he stole, filled with batteries, tapes, camera gear, monopods and a lot of random stuff. They slide around on the floor of the car as we rush through the city get Ryan Philippe. When we get there, Kido decides to put me to good use, he gives me the videocamera that he used to record me when I came into LAX. He tells me to point it at Ryan and hit record if I see him while tries to find a place to park nearby. I jump out of the car, Ryan is already walking into the restaurant and I point the camera at him and he walks towards me, I shy away and put the camera down without hitting the pause button and I record the floor for a good minute until Kido comes and asks me what happens.
While Ryan ate at the restaurant, a lot of other paparazzi found out he was there. Out of nowhere, there’s more than ten guys outside with cameras and videocameras waiting for him to finish his lunch. Kido tells me just to follow the other video guys and do exactly what they do, and I did, nothing too exciting. Time to run back to the car were Kido is turned around to be exactly behind Ryan’s car. We have a crazy follow until he decides its his day off and he doesn’t want to be working at the moment. We leave Ryan to Salvador, who was actually supposed to be covering him.
That was my first encounter with a celebrity, and I must say it was pretty fun, though I did nothing and the video was completely worthless. The rest of the day was spent of him showing me Los Angeles and him telling me about what a life it is to be a Paparazzo.
I saw Ryan Phillippe several more times, he was never an easy target though never really mean. Here’s my best pictures of him:
These were taken on August 8th, 2009 close to midnight. There was plenty competition around and from the moment he stepped out he started covering his face with a giant bag. The first picture was taken from a distance while he covered other photographers with his bag. The second was taken while he was going down the escalator and it was the only clean shot of his face. The third was taken while he crossed the street with then girlfriend Abbie Cornish.
Picture from November 21st, 2010 on an early departure flight, the pictures were exclusive. He was taking his kids (Reese Witherspoon’s) to his parents home for thanksgiving. I worked this set with a partner and our pictures were printed in several magazines and featured in blogs. We expected a really difficult shoot, but he was really nice, so we were nice to him as well and gave him all the space he needed to walk through LAX without causing a commotion.