He’s been way too busy bringing these moving images to the world to waste time looking back on his 32 years as an L.A. prosecutor who rose to the top of his profession only to be toppled by angry voters after the O.J. trial. The past is over, Garcetti says. Nothing he can do about it. It’s the future he’s been working on since leaving office. No, nothing O.J. does surprises him, he says. Certainly not that he’s sitting in another courtroom now facing felony charges for assault and robbery. That’s his problem, Garcetti says. He’s moved on to more important things. He put all those expensive suits he wore on his old job in the closet and grabbed a pair of jeans and a camera. Finally, he was going to put those four years he spent taking photography classes at Reseda High Night School as a young man to use. Back then there were no dreams of becoming a lawyer. He grew up in a little house at 63rd and Estrella streets in South Central Los Angeles – the son of a barber and Mexican-American mother who worked as a meatpacker. “All the guys in my neighborhood wanted to be garbagemen because it was such a macho job back then,” he said. “But we had a career day in high school and I met this man who was all dressed up nice wearing shiny jewelry. “He said he was a lawyer. I didn’t want to be a garbageman anymore.” A few months after leaving the D.A.’s Office, Garcetti said he was driving by the site where the new Disney Hall was being built and he pulled over to watch ironworkers walking high in the sky on steel beams. “It was fascinating to watch them,” he said. “I asked the supervisor of the construction company if I could come on the site to shoot pictures of them. He said no.” Garcetti called an official of the ironworkers union who had been one of his campaign contributors. “He took my call and the first thing he said was, `Hi, Gil, I’ll send you a thousand bucks.’ I laughed and told him I wasn’t calling about politics anymore.” The ironworkers invited Garcetti to shoot all he wanted, which led to the publication of his first well-received photography book “Iron: Erecting the Walt Disney Concert Hall.” Another well-received book followed in 2006 called “Dance in Cuba,” capturing the spirit and energy of the Cuban people who don’t have much but still enjoy life. But it is his latest photo book, “Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa,” that has captured his real passion, he says. Every dime he makes from the sale of his book is going to the NGOs trying to bring clean water and sanitation to a region where 70 percent of the people don’t have safe water to drink, he says. “I figure I have 20 good years left, and I have no doubt that ultimately I will be remembered for my photography and taking on projects I feel passionate about,” Garcetti said. “I want to be an inspiration for people in their 60s and 70s that there is still a lot you can do, not for yourself but for other people in the world.” That, and not O.J. Simpson, is the legacy Gil Garcetti wants us to remember him by. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected], (818) 713-3749160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! While his old nemesis O.J. Simpson sat in a Las Vegas courtroom Wednesday, Gil Garcetti sat on a concrete bench outside UCLA’s Fowler Museum in Westwood waiting for a class of elementary schoolchildren to arrive. The former Los Angeles County district attorney, now a successful photographer, had a two-gallon bucket of water with him to help the kids understand what it’s like for children living on the other side of the world in poor West African villages. For young girls who never get the chance to go to school or visit a museum because their days are spent walking miles in scorching heat and dust storms carrying large jugs of contaminated water on their heads. Dying from thirst is a certainty in these villages without this contaminated groundwater. Dying from drinking it is only a risk. There are no other choices. Not yet, anyway. That’s why Garcetti is here. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre When the last line on his life is written, the 66-year-old former prosecutor wants it to be about his work with NGOs – nongovernmental organizations – to bring safe water and sanitation to these poor villages where young girls are treated as chattel. He doesn’t want the line to be about the D.A. on whose watch Simpson walked away from murder charges. “A full jug of water can weigh 40 pounds,” Garcetti said, waiting for the kids to arrive so he could give them a tour of his black-and-white photo exhibit, “Women, Water and Wells.” “Imagine little girls carrying that much weight on their heads. How painful it is to their necks and shoulders. I want these kids to feel how tough it is just carrying around a bucket with only two gallons in it.” Since being voted out of office in 2001, Garcetti has rekindled his passion for photography, spending months traveling throughout West Africa in the last five years, taking vivid pictures of poverty and disease in villages with no safe water to drink.