Of Shutterbugs & Mosquitoes: A Brief History of the Paparazzi

Photo Courtesy: Ellen Von Unwerth via @GVSLondon/Twitter

There’s no denying it: Our society is celebrity obsessed. These days, those who are curious about the rich and famous — or the not-so-rich and famous — don’t have to rely on gossip mags and tabloids as the sole sources of shocking tidbits and sneaky photographs. Just check your fave’s latest Insta story or tweet for the juicy details.

When the public’s interest in celebrity culture and Hollywood swelled in the ‘50s and ‘60s, fans wanted access to those famous faces — to peek behind the curtain into celebrities’ private lives. There’s something intriguing about the way a public figure’s life is so curated, and when it intersects with the mundane, it's exciting to feel as though we are all one and the same.

Enter the paparazzi. Before social media, video sharing on the Internet and 24/7 entertainment news stations, these photographers were the key to accessing celebrity life — particularly the everyday minutia (getting a peppermint mocha, shopping at Target, walking literally anywhere) that made them seem so human. Nowadays, the paparazzi — independent photographers who snap photos of high-profile folks — are seen as a nuisance and, in the very worst cases, threatening. But how did this profession come to be?