When he looked at them later in his home office, however, he was pleased. The talk show diva was wearing a pretty white outfit with comfortable flip-flops — toting her dress heels in a bag.
“I was just happy to take a nice picture, because she was smiling,” Drummond says.
Then, a fortuitous event occurred.
A friend noticed something weird about the photo. If you looked closely — really closely — at Winfrey’s bare feet, it appeared that she had six toes. Drummond quickly enlarged the photo of the digit in question and had to agree.
Drummond re-sent the picture with the enlarged toe to his photo agency in New York, after which it hit the Web like wildfire. Six-Toed Oprah ended up selling to Star magazine, gossip sites and newspapers all over the world. It was a sensation: “Either Oprah Winfrey is rockin’ a sixth toe or that’s one mighty corn!” observed celebrity gossip site TMZ.com. In the end, Drummond says, he raked in more than $50,000 from that one image, and he’s still collecting residuals from it.
At that time, Drummond had more than a decade of experience working as a freelance photographer for the New York Post, Bloomberg and other media outlets. But after Six-Toed Oprah, everything changed.
That moment in 2007 “was the turning point,” he says. “That’s when I knew I had to concentrate strictly on celebrities and strictly on working in D.C.”
Paparazzi? In Washington, D.C.?
Yes, Washington now has its own homegrown pack of street photographers, a half-dozen or so who make their living selling photos and videos of visiting celebrities to gossip blogs, Web sites and magazines such as People and Us Weekly .
On any given day, you might see the paparazzi loitering outside luxury hotels such as the W or the Four Seasons, in front of restaurants such as Cafe Milano, or at the baggage claim at Dulles International Airport, hoping for famous faces. The paparazzi have wide networks of hotel doormen and limo drivers whom they rely on for tips.
And, just like their counterparts in New York and Los Angeles, they excel at annoying their subjects. Actor Shia LaBeouf threw a cup of coffee at one local paparazzo at an outdoor cafe last year (you can watch it on YouTube; it was all
caught on tape
— by Colin Drummond).
For Drummond, 46, who launched his own local celebrity news site, Celebrity-Newz, earlier this year, the career switch has been lucrative. He makes six figures — double what a news photographer might make — and lives in a charming $792,000 historic home in Old Town Alexandria with his wife, Monique, a consignment boutique owner, and their two children, ages 7 and 15.