Driving around in L.A. I haven’t got anything good for the last couple of weeks wondering if I lost my touch. Then a call comes in and I know it’s a tip for a celebrity but this one was different. It was a tip for the Michael Jackson. I loose my shit and put the metal to the pedal, running through red lights definitely breaking a couple of traffic laws. I had to drive like a maniac because this wasn’t a regular celebrity I was about to shoot. This was King of Pop.
The media hasn’t seen him since his last court tribulations, so I wondered how this is going to turn out. I never thought I would shoot an icon like Michael but you get to do and meet interesting people when you do this profession. And yes, it is a profession. Even though a lot people would say it’s not a real job but it is. It’s like any other job, you have to get up everyday and perform or you won’t succeed.
The tip for Michael was at the world famous street of Melrose Ave. He was supposed to be in a high-end unisex store with friends. I got the confirmation from my partner as he gets to the location. I pull up to the spot as I see my partner already in position, taking frames of the King as people start to gather in front of the store. I immediately park my truck in front of store and excitingly get ready to shoot the legend.
I push through the small crowd to my partner as he tells me he already got frames inside but he wants me to go short and flash on the exit. I get my mind and gear ready to meet the icon. The small crowd begins to move out of the way of the store then I see him with a stylish hat with big dark sunglass along with a green veil covering his face. I couldn’t actually see his face but I knew this was the guy with all the hits I listened to on the radio growing up.
I was in awe.
But I had a job to do, so I put my emotions to the side and move into position. I start firing off shots along with my partner. We get Jackson from every angle imaginable as the King starts to cover his face with his hands. I thought it was kinda odd that he didn’t have any bodyguards with him maybe because he wanted to feel normal. For a second, I felt sad that we were ruining that moment for him, but we had a job to do and we were going to accomplish it.
We shot Michael all the way down the street but we still didn’t get a clear shot of his face so we had to continue on with job. But now there was a huge crowd of Michael Jackson fans surrounding him, even a group of black dudes that looked the black version of the Village People with their cowboy hats and leather chaps. I try to get closer to Mike but the Village People felt protective of the King, pushing my partner and I as one of the cowboys grabs my camera but that was expected because people love their celebrities. But what I didn’t expect is this huge megastar to help me out as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, tells the cowboys to let go of my camera, telling everyone,
“Peace. Peace everyone,” shaking my hand.
The King spoke and we listened.
For a second we all stop and look at each other in amazement. Then circus continued as we shot Michael with the Village People all the way to his SUV. He gets into his car but before he leaves he graciously signs and greets all his fans. I stopped shooting looking at the man who was cool enough to stop for his fans, but in the corner of my eye I see my partner sneaking to the back of Michael’s SUV.
I knew was about to go down. My British partner was going to pull the “How’s you’re father” move on Mike. I had no control for what was about to go down as my partner races to the other side of the car while Michael was signing autographs for his fans. My partner opens the quickly opens the door and gets off a couple of frames, then the car pulls off. I see my partner putting his hands in victory, showing me we actually got a frame of his face. A wave of emotions come crushing towards me as I felt great that I got to shoot Michael and we actually got a clear shot of his face but on other side I felt sad that I ruined his day.
Maybe we didn’t ruin his day but we definitely affected it. Sorta like the way his songs affected all of us. Michael made us feel like we can be something more and achieve something greater. I didn’t feel great that I affected his day but it was amazing to meet him. I got a job to do, which sometimes it sucks but I have to do it because it’s my job. It definitely didn’t suck to day hang out with Michael Jackson. It wouldn’t be the last time I would run into the King of Pop.
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