DFree/Shutterstock.com

“Paparazzi.” The very term evokes fear in some and loathing in others. So reviled is the profession of open stalking, it’s hard to imagine there’s an actual person behind that nuisance camera. After all, the paparazzi participated in the death of Princess Diana; they contributed to driving Britney Spears to shave her head and spiral out of control in a psychiatric meltdown; the relentless hunters were involved in a Caitlyn Jenner car crash in which multiple fatalities resulted; and Kanye West sustained head trauma trying to avoid the wicked lense of street jackals.

Many more shameful incidents appear on the pages in the modern freelance press, far too many to enumerate, but one thing is certain: people dislike the paparazzi with a passion. Indeed, the line between legitimate journalism and unlawful trespass is razor thin, and the shutterbugs ride that line like a pony on parade. 

However, that doesn’t stop the general public from purchasing magazine editions with scandalous and embarrassing photographs of unsuspecting superstars. Or watching YouTube videos with similar faire over and over and over again. And a spread featuring Angelina Jolie’s brief outing at Whole Foods, highlighting the applesauce and oatmeal she purchased can garner millions of clicks.

Accordingly, there’s a very real issue of supply and demand at work here. If there was no market for these pictures and videos, there would be no paparazzi hiding in the bushes and snapping photos like creepy voyeurs.

To make matters more complicated, it appears some of these celebrity photographers actually do have a pinch of integrity and a dash of humanity. Yes, according to Jennifer Garner, the paparazzi may just be human after all.

“I just loathe them so much and what they do, but there are a couple of them that have been with me for so long, they’ve been assigned to me for fifteen years,” The Peppermint star revealed in an interview with Daily Pop. “One of them said to me, ‘You don’t know how much we love watching you with your children. You don’t know how much we respect you.’”

Garner realized these particular paparazzi who’ve been diligently and obnoxiously documenting her life for so many years had come to know her quite well. They were there when she was pregnant, raising her children, struggling with marital problems, starring in successful films. The paparazzi were present every time her personal life made headline news in the tabloids (after all, they supplied the photos to the publications). Though their actions seemed so reprehensible, they weren’t hating on her; not at all.

Is it possible that in a very competitive job market, photographers simply take work where they can get it? And with the voracious curiosity for everything celebrity in this country, sometimes shadowing the gods and goddesses of Mount Hollywood may just be an intelligent and reasonable career path.

Speaking of the anonymous paparazzi’s honest words of deference, a clearly emotional Jennifer Garner remarked, “I was so taken back by how much that struck me.”

It is true everyone deserves his or her privacy. Particularly on an innocent walk to the corner deli and especially when spending time with the kids. However, freelance photography is an accepted form of journalism and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

So, in a perfect world, celebrities might look upon snappers with a bit more empathy and with less hostility. And the photo-hounds could practice more common courtesy and good judgment. Thereupon, we may see a cautious and conditional rapprochement.