"Jeremy!” Yet another go-go dancer mounts photographer Jeremy Womack for a one-armed cuddle, while his other hand cradles his beloved camera. He certainly is the popular one, drawing dancers to him for warm greetings ever since we paddled our way through the streams of bodies pouring into Jet to hear three-time No. 1 DJ in the world Tiësto spin live. I, on the other hand, have turned up to Womack-watch.
Tall, handsome and—hey ladies, listen up—scrumptiously Aidan (of Sex and the City fame)-like, the gent with the long brown ponytail moves with purpose through the clubs. Well, actually, club. Unlike many of his club photog colleagues, Womack, 31 and a SoCal native, only visits one venue per night, though he does venture out six nights a week to make up for it. Tuesdays aside, from about 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., you can find Womack, also the Weekly’s own Vegas Scene photographer, at Body English, Tao, Jet, CatHouse, and daytime at the odd pool party. Sometimes in a humorous tee, sometimes in a ’do-rag, but always with a smile, Womack is patient where others have ego, calm where others sprint from club to club in a frenzy to be everywhere at once. Womack, I will find out, waits. The people just come to him.
Inside Jet, we slip right into VIP, the camera being the ultimate VIP ticket and a welcome guest at any Vegas party. After traveling all this way, most tourists want to commemorate their big night out, and except for those unsavvy few who still link to club photogs their recollections of cheesy restaurant photographers who snap you at your table and then try to sell you an overexposed 5x7, most everyone is happy to see him. First, a few crowd shots over the heads of the dancing masses. “In here there’s good lighting,” he says, “so I’ll [take crowd shots], but normally I don’t because people just want to see themselves.” Next he pays a visit to the go-go dancers, who put their pole dancing on pause to hug, mug for a few pics and chat a bit with Womack like old friends who haven’t seen each other since, oh, this time last week. Then the guests catch on. That’s pretty much his modus operandi: Start with the go-gos, and then the people come a-running. Soon, they are tugging at his sleeve to come over to their booths. Drinks in the air, arms intertwined, they let him capture a few images, and he leaves them with a business card for JeremyWomack.com
Vegas became very familiar with Womack (a photographer 10-plus years) when he helped launch photo/networking hub MingleNow.com (purchased by Yahoo in 2007). Life in the blogosphere must have suited him, as his eponymous site and the newer LasVegasNightlifeNetwork.com both enjoy healthy traffic. “As cheesy as it may sound, I take pride in knowing that 10 years, 20 years or forever, I have documented the memories of people’s lives that they will always have to look back on and share with others.” And the name recognition, as people add his logoed photos to their MySpace profiles, can’t be hurting business, either!
Thrusting his camera high in the air, he plunges into the crowd and down to the front of the DJ booth where Faarsheed is finishing up a damn good set. Meanwhile, press though I am, I get Heisman’d by a security guard, who points out, “He’s got the camera.” But my beefy new friend finds me a place to stand, so I decide not to poke him with my Treo stylus. I have the best spot in the house next to Womack, who has a ringside seat to the changing of the DJ guard. “Tiës-to! Tiës-to!” we chant, but inside I’m prouder of our hometown boy Faarsheed.
But then at 12:57 a.m. all the plasma screens blare Tiësto’s In Search of Sunrise album cover. The music stops. Screams greet Tiësto as he enters the booth, gives one Miss America wave, gingerly slides on the headphones and gets down to business, beginning with some moving female vocal house. Instantly hundreds of digital cameras emerge from clothing; even busers and security whip out camera phones from their uniforms. But it doesn’t matter; Womack’s already got the money shot.