Shooting Their Way Into Oblivion : Records: Editors of the Guinness book reject a pair's effort to be recognized for the longest photo session.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A commercial photographer and a model had focused their hopes on getting their names in the Guinness Book of World Records for the "world's longest photo shoot." But after 50 hours, 550 poses and 9,000 photographs, the pair instead may have set a new standard for pointless endeavors.

As it developed Tuesday, nobody was interested in what photographer David Esterson and model Barbara Nickell had accomplished over two cold, drizzly days outside a photo developing store at a Burbank mini-mall.

Editors at Guinness Publishing, who said they are phasing out most records of endurance from their famous book, issued a polite rejection from their offices in Middlesex, England.

"Since we do not have a category in our Guinness book of records for the longest photo shoot, we would not be interested," spokeswoman Lynette Betinelli said. "The category of longest photo shoot is not one we are really interested in creating."

Photo professionals also were not impressed, discounting it as a stunt orchestrated to get exposure for the photographer, the model and the shop where the 280 rolls of film were processed. "That's a hell of a long time, but it seems kind of pointless to me," said Phil Jache, deputy picture editor of Sports Illustrated. "That's an awful lot of film."

For the record, the sports magazine generally shoots about 450 rolls of film over three hours during its annual coverage of the Super Bowl.

Esterson and Nickell went without sleep from 8 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Monday, undertaking a strenuous regimen that required Nickell to change clothes 147 times and strained the creative powers of model and photographer.

"There's only so many things you can do with a human body," Esterson said.

Before all that effort, the organizers wrote to Guinness, explaining the stunt, and zoomed ahead without hearing from the publisher.

Although disappointed, Esterson and Nickell said the shoot was worth the effort. Nickell, an aspiring actress from Rockford, Ill., was happy because she got $3,000 worth of photographs for her portfolio.

"I've got some wonderful shots," said Nickell, whose most recent television appearances have been in advertisements for Jack-In-The-Box restaurants. "I didn't have to pay for them. I met some wonderful people. I got my silver lining."

Agi Bagramyan, owner of the shop that processed all of Esterson's film free of charge, said the stunt cost him nearly $6,000 but that it was money well-spent. "I wanted to do something for America, to encourage people to buy American products," said the Armenian-born Bagramyan, adding that he hoped that the event would encourage photographers to use film made in the United States.

Only publicist Chris Harris, who arranged the event, said he was angry that Guinness refused to recognize the feat.

"If ever there was a record for human endurance, this was it," he said.

"This was not some ridiculous kind of achievement."

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