GETTING hollered at on the street, trolled on social media and punched in the face while just trying to do your job sounds like something out of a bad dream.
But for 26-year-old Jaimie Harris, it’s all part and parcel of being London’s only female paparazzi photographer.
The snapper, from Essex, has been carving out a name for herself in the male-dominated industry since she was 19.
Having started out in a small studio, she went on to become a junior photographer for the now-defunct Big Pictures and currently works for Backgrid, one of the largest celebrity news agencies in the world.
And despite the long, unpredictable hours – which makes it hard to see friends and family and near impossible to find a fella – Jaimie wouldn’t swap it for the world.
She admitted that the abuse she receives from the general public – and the celebs she pictures – used to get to really get to her.
“I’ve had so many people say, ‘Get a real job, you killed Princess Diana’, all horrible things like that,” she said.
“It does rile you up a bit. At first it really upset me, I thought it was really horrible.
“Now I just take it on the chin, because people have no idea what this industry is actually like.
“They’re the ones buying the newspapers and the magazines – where do they think the pictures come from? I just think it’s funny.”
She confessed she’s been trolled on social media, with one irate celebrity accusing her of purposefully trying to make her “look fat”.
“The thing is, we’re not allowed to do anything to the pictures,” said Jaimie.
“It’s just a bad angle, but we don’t pick the bad angle.
“If someone has got that much low self-esteem, in their head they’re going to think, you’ve made me look fat. I would love to know how we do that, it would be news to me.”
Jaimie has even had the police called on her while shooting at the X Factor judges’ houses, with people thinking she was a burglar.
“You put a ladder up against the house and you shoot in when they’re leaving,” she explained.
“They’re very happy with us doing that, but to other people it looks like… I don’t know what it looks like!
“I had the police called on me, they searched my car. It was quite funny.”
While she acknowledges it’s a tough profession that requires a very thick skin, it certainly has its perks.
Her most expensive single snap to date sold for £6,500 – of a reality star looking “rough” – and last year she travelled to four different exotic destinations in a week, taking pap shots of the Towie cast.
“Most people don’t realise that celebrities tip off agencies when they want to be seen,” she explained.
“I went to Greece, Ibiza, Barcelona and Portugal, mainly shooting bikini stuff.
“They’re more comfortable with a girl, so that’s been my strength recently.
“I go for dinner with them, we’re in the same hotel as each other, I fly with them as well; it’s quite a close job when I do stuff with them like that.”
But Jaimie’s real passion is the more discreet work – or as she calls it, “proper papping”.
“I like it when the celebs don’t see me,” she said. “It gives me a real adrenaline rush. It’s quite skillful.
“I do everything from my car – my car’s my office. Either I get a tip or I’ve seen something on Twitter. Their social media is very helpful!”
She admitted she prefers to work alone, rather than loitering outside venues in a pack of other photographers.
“I hate doing that,” she admitted.
“Obviously I’m a girl and I’m quite small (5ft 2in). I’ve been hit in the face by a camera, I’ve had my nose knocked… It is hard, I take myself out of those situations now because I’ve been in a few and I just don’t like it.”
That’s not the only time Jaimie has felt vulnerable on the job.
Once, while taking pictures of a celebrity entering a venue, she was physically assaulted by their brother.
“He just came up to me, hit me and broke my nose,” she said.
“I reported it and got him arrested, but nothing came of it. A pap will never win against a celebrity, no matter what.
“It wasn’t worth pursuing anything because they’ll think I antagonised it, even though I’m always polite and hadn’t said a word.
“I kept myself to myself after that. I didn’t really want to be around a lot of paps where lots of people would be around.
“It didn’t scare me, but it made me think, am I doing something wrong?”
Jaimie admitted that the industry does have a bad reputation, but she prides herself on knowing where to draw the line.
“There will definitely be times where I’m like, no, I’m not doing that.
“Say a celeb’s had a miscarriage, or something awful like that, I would leave them alone.
“I did Amy Winehouse’s funeral, but they let the press be there, so it’s very different.
“If I wasn’t comfortable with something, I don’t care how much it was worth, I wouldn’t do it.
“Luckily nothing’s come up like that yet. I see myself as human and I know where the line is.
“Some people in the industry don’t – there’s only a few, and they give us all a bad name.”
Speaking about the scandal surrounding the topless photos of Kate Middleton, Jaimie said she thinks they were “acceptable” if the Duchess was “in view”.
“If they take a picture on public land, no one can do anything about that, I don’t think anything is too intrusive,” she said.
“If it was any other celebrity topless then it would have been fine, it’s only because they’re royal and normal rules don’t apply to them.
“At the end of the day, a pap could stumble across something and take a picture, but if a normal person saw that and took a picture on their mobile phone, I don’t think there would have been such an uproar, because they’re not a pap as such.”
Jaimie added that being a woman makes her more empathetic and appealing to female celebs.
“It is an advantage – especially when celebrities see you and they’re like, ‘Oh a girl!’ and they’ll look straight at me and I’ll get the shot.
“I take a lot more to heart as well, I am quite sensitive. I think men don’t really care as much.”
To keep up to date with Jaimie, visit her blog, Diary of a Girl Pap.