By day, George T. Brandon is an executive with the downtown L.A. law firm Morris Polich & Purdy LLP. But at night, you might catch him among the throngs of photographers on the red carpet shooting Oprah Winfrey or Tom Cruise.

It turns out that Brandon moonlights as a professional photographer for London-based World Entertainment News Network. But it was just an amateur hobby until a chance encounter on a plane.

In 2002, Brandon was flying back from a meeting with a law firm in London when the passenger next to him complimented a photo on his laptop, which Brandon had shot.

“He said, ‘That’s a nice photograph, have you got any others? I’m very interested in photography,’” Brandon said. “I showed him some more, and then he said, ‘These are really good. I think you’re just the chap I’m looking for.’”

The man was WENN Chief Executive Lloyd Beiny, who happened to be flying to Los Angeles to hire another photographer. He offered Brandon the job on the spot.

Two weeks later, he was shooting the Golden Globes with a $285 Kodak. Since then, he’s had enough success to buy top-of-the-line equipment and start a photography business on the side shooting calendars and portraits for private clients.

“I was just minding my own business,” he said. “My wife said, ‘This is just like you. Do you realize people would kill to get that job?’”

Park Place

Michelle Grubbs, vice president of trade group Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, keeps a close eye on the waterfront, so perhaps it’s no surprise that despite being born and raised in California, she only recently made her first pilgrimage to Yosemite National Park.

“It was breathtaking,” said Grubbs, who visited the iconic park in April with her husband, Jim. “You come through that tunnel (into the park) and the view just pops out at you. It was a great trip. Everything was just perfect.”

Of course, that was just a few months before a handful of Yosemite visitors were diagnosed with hantavirus, a disease that has killed three people who visited the park this summer.

But Grubbs is unconcerned. Hantavirus, a rodent-borne illness, so far seems to have affected only visitors who stayed in Yosemite’s tent cabin campgrounds. Grubbs and family stayed in the more plush confines of the Tenaya Lodge, a hotel just outside of the park. What’s more, she has plans to head back next year and stay at the famous hotel in the heart of Yosemite Valley.

“I’m not scared,” she said. “We already made reservations for the same time next year. We picked out a cottage at the Ahwahnee.”

Staff reporters Alfred Lee and James Rufus Koren contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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