Celebrity Talk: Britney Spears, Hugh Jackman, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Travis Barker and more….
The rest of my summer days in 2007 were filled by seeing a different celebrity every day. Sometimes they sent us on special mission or to a certain celebrity’s address to do a stake out. My memory is pretty vague from all the people I saw. The pictures and videos have been lost because I didn’t own a computer back then and I wasn’t officially working as a paparazzo, I was more of a trainee. A few big things did happen though; I learned how to work a still photography camera thanks to my brother and other co-workers. I encountered a lot of celebrities, got to be part of “big” moments in celebrity history and got to know Los Angeles as a 21 year old. Most importantly, I was making money, having fun and have great stories to tell.
Amongst those stories are my encounters with celebrities in a different number of occasions. Britney Spears in Las Vegas and in a few different locations, Paris Hilton when she was going to jail, Nicole Richie while pregnant of her first kid, Hugh Jackman and his wife were my first print on still photography, I had a chat with Travis Barker, and many more. I’ll start by telling Britney’s story.
3.0 Britney Biatch.
Britney, Britney, Britney….. The crazy Britney Spears of 2007. She was dating a paparazzo, she talked in different accents, her life was a circus, and I was there in a number of occasions taking her picture and/or filming her. I even tried hitting on her, it didn’t work. From all the times I saw her, the most interesting story of them all is when I actually didn’t get to see her at all.
After working a couple of weeks in Los Angeles, mostly at LAX and hunting for celebrities out in the open, I got my first travel job offer. Britney Spears went to Las Vegas and was staying at the Hotel Wynn, information our agency told us was exclusive. Our agency booked a flight for my brother, me and a co-worker by the name of Ivan. Ivan was a white kid from the Midwest that was new to the job but really wanted to the best at it. It was his dream to make a lot of money as a Paparazzo, so he worked harder than anyone else I met in the business. Needless to say, he was excited to fly to Las Vegas to work. I was excited to go to Las Vegas not only for Britney, but because I just turned 21 and going to Las Vegas seemed just perfect.
We flew late in the afternoon, my brother barely made it to the flight. I remember I stayed at the gate telling the flight attendants that Kido was on his way and they actually kept the gate open for a couple more minutes than they were supposed to, delaying the flight. As soon as we got to Las Vegas I spent my first dollar gambling on a slot machine in the airport. I was amazed at how they push the gambling culture right off the bat with a lot of slot/poker machines in the very same airport with a lot of people gambling.
We rented a car and headed to the Wynn hotel where Britney was staying with her kids. We booked a room for the night and started looking for her shortly after booking. It was past 8 p.m. so we split up and search the hotel for any sign of Britney, one of us stayed at the lobby in case she left the hotel. We looked for her until past midnight when the bosses called to update us on her information. The details were sketchy, but we knew that she checked in the hotel that same day and that she was still there according to their sources. We kept looking for a couple more hours when they called again and told us she was gone. We had no idea what happened and how we missed her.
The next morning we found out what happened. Another paparazzo found her in the hotel earlier in the day before we even flew to Las Vegas. While we were on our way, the competition was already taking Britney’s picture, though it didn’t go well for him. Britney’s bodyguard ended up attacking the photographer and got Britney in trouble with the hotel and she got kicked out.
Basically all our work was for nothing, she was gone before we even got there. I didn’t care since I got a free ticket to Las Vegas, but Ivan was devastated. It was his first travel job and he really wanted to get the pictures (He bought a six pack of Red Bull just for the occasion). He didn’t handle the news of her not being there very well and started drinking heavily. I joined him and we drank while we waited for our agency to book a flight walking on the Vegas Strip in a 104 F* weather. We hit several casinos and kept drinking and gambling (Ivan mostly kept on drinking) until finally they booked a flight back for us that afternoon. Once in the airport, we found out that our flight back to Los Angeles was delayed for more than 5 hours, so we continued drinking and I became an expert video blackjack at the Las Vegas Airport. We made it home extremely drunk and tired.
Like I mentioned, I saw Britney on multiple occasions that summer (I saw her extensively throughout my career, like many other celebrities). Every time I saw her a lot of paparazzi were surrounding her and I was one more of the bunch. One of the times me and Kido saw her that same summer, we heard from some source (don’t remember which) that she was at the Beverly Glen Center in L.A. My brother wasn’t on the right spot when Britney came out, so instead of doing video I got to take pictures. I didn’t do that great against the competition, but my pictures sold to a couple of blogs. I saved the ones that sold to the blog justjared.com. You can see Jared’s post here http://www.justjared.com/2007/07/02/britney-spears-praying/
My pictures on justjared:
Besides the summer of 2007 I encountered Britney a number of times. Sometimes I got lucky and got great pictures between a lot of people, and sometimes I had her exclusive and got nice clean shots, and other times she managed to escape or to block all photographers.
These are my best pictures of her.
Above pics were taken on June 18th, 2008 at early dawn. She was flying around 6:30 a.m. and she barely made it on time. We were told that our information was exclusive and that no other photographers were going to be there, but X17online had 2 other photographers at the scene.
Two days later she flew back. Pics above are from June 20th, 2008 around noon. There were more than 50 paparazzi expecting her on the flight back.
Pic from September 28th, 2008 in the afternoon. It was taken between a swarm of paparazzi, security and other people. I had the best picture against everyone and my competition from Splash also got decent shots. Picture got printed in several places and went to various online blogs like JustJared’s
Pics were taken on December 12th, 2010 close to midnight. I worked with my brother that late night and the pictures were exclusive. Various magazines picked up the pictures though they prefer my brother’s pictures because he got a better picture of them together.
This was a week later on her return flight on December 21st, 2009 in the morning. I did the job myself and competition was there and no one really got that many pictures except this one that got picked up by several magazines.