Teen Paparazzi© Lauren Greenfield
While most kids were whining for allowances and shopping at the mall, Austin Visschedyk, 16, was busy photographing celebrities and marketing his images since the age of 13. Living in West Hollywood, Austin was savvy to the allure of a celebrity’s life early: at 10, he would chit-chat with Jennifer Aniston, at 11 he had a pre-teen crush on Paris Hilton and got sunglass advice from George Clooney.
Before getting his driver’s license, Austin would juggle his cell phone and camera on a bicycle and pedal between Hollywood nightclubs in the dark of the night to get a shot of a starlet that could fetch him a few thousand dollars. Working with a mix of charm, confidence, and teenage bravado, Austin has now graduated from a bike to a BMW and calls on sources such as valets, waiters, and celebrities themselves, for leads on the whereabouts of tabloid favorites. Many of the celebrities have become his friends (Lindsay Lohan is on his speed dial) and most like him because he’s just a kid who is usually respectful of their personal boundaries.
Austin’s mother, Jane Sieberts, 56, had reservations when Austin started photographing Hollywood celebrities two years ago; she worried about a young kid in a tough industry. After seeing his dedication, Jane reasoned that Austin could just as easily get injured playing sports at school. Despite the danger of late night car chases and intimidation tactics of bodyguards and other paparazzi, she never the less supported his career and accommodated his taxing work schedule with home schooling.
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