Is that guy famous?

Brad Luttrell decided early in his career in photojournalism that shooting pictures of real people doing real things wasn’t enough. He wanted to spend his lifetime living off the livelihood of others. A parasitic job, but the fame and fortune (that he saw through his lens) was too much to turn down.    

Photo by Keith Smiley
Post by Brad Luttrell

           This has never happened before in Lexington, Louisville, St. Louis or of course, Middlesboro. I’ve never had my long lens out while walking anywhere and been asked, “Who’s here?”

           The first time was actually a surprise. We were walking on Main Street in Ventura and some people on the street called us some lady’s entourage and said that we were following her. She then openly called us the p-word, and it wasn’t photographer, photojournalist or Pulitzer Prize winners. She called us paparazzi. We laughed at the thought of it.

            A few days ago on our way back from Simi Valley we stopped to shoot kitesurfing on a beach with a photo shoot going on. It was probably for a rich and famous that all of you pop culture kids would know and love. None of us could care any less about Paris Hilton or anyone else in Hollywood. There are actors and artists that I prefer to others, but they’re people just like the rest of us. They’re good at what they do just like my dad is good at dealing with people in insurance and Dave is at taking pictures. But anyways, on our way out we were walking together and this family was coming toward us. A bold one emerges from the group.

           “Get any good photos?” she asked. 
           “Yeah, we hope so,” I said, accidentally seeming interested in a conversation. I was tired and wanted to go home.
           “Who is here?” she asked.
           “Um, what? Surfers?” I stumbled over my words not sure of what the answer was. “We just shot the sunset with the surfers.”i

            I wish I had known what she was asking. We all wished. Had we understood that she thought we were stalking someone, hanging out in the bushes just for that one moment to shoot a picture of a celebrity nipple, secret kiss between two stars  or to show that some new pop star had baggy eyes and a pregnant belly, we would have played along.

           After a few steps we all came to the realization of what had happened and just started laughing immediately. We devised a plan for the next time it happened. We would give the ignorant owner of the question what they wanted, a story to chase.

            “The next time someone asks, let’s just tell them we’re shooting pictures of Wayne Brady,” Ed suggested. Genius.

            So we’ve all been waiting on that chance to happen. It doesn’t happen in Ventura as much as it does in other places. It’s far more likely in Ojai, Santa Barbara, Simi Valley and other areas a bit more known to hold movie stars.

           It happened again today (June 29, 07 written date). We were leaving the wharf in Santa Barbara and had stopped at the end to shoot photos of a fellow in a small boat. We had started the Yellowstone effect again. There was a cluster of people who had been walking away from an amazing moon rise and stopped right on top of us to take pictures with their point and shoots. As we were all four spread over about 40 or 50 feet shooting this guy in a boat, some young guy with his girlfriend looks at me and asks me if the old man wearing the faded shirt, cotton shorts and baseball hat who was standing in a john boat is famous.

           “Yeah man, it’s Wayne Brady,” I wished I had said.  Instead I laughed at the guy and said, “Uh no.” I wanted to say “Yeah it’s Wayne Brady. He’s been using bleach cream and a detanning bed. Works wonders on lightening the skin but adds years to your age.”

           I was pretty upset when I missed the opportunity. Even saying Bob Barker would have been funny. I’m ready for the next time now though. Sure it will be lying and it is against what journalism is about. But I’m about having fun while out here and making good pictures while doing it. If I can teach a few schmucks that not all photographers are out to shoot pictures of celebrities and that there is a noble profession that can be used with those big lenses, I think I would be doing the community a service. And isn’t that what journalism is kind of about anyways?



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