Remember the last time someone took a photograph of you that you didn't like? Do you remember how it made you feel?
Maybe you didn't care, maybe you owned that awkward image because it captured a brilliant moment you want to cherish. Or maybe you demanded it was deleted, or scrambled to de-tag yourself. To erase that double chin from your memory and your Facebook timeline?
But what happens when you don't even know the photograph is being taken? When you don't realise that someone is lurking in a corner, carrying a camera, snapping frame after frame as you -- blissfully unaware -- buy your morning coffee, check your phone and do all the things we do when we think no-one is watching.
Bizarrely, I do know, because a few weeks ago I was on the way to a meeting and got 'papped'. The paparazzi mistook me for former 'Wheel Of Fortune' hostess and Australian TV personality Sophie Falkiner. He was so convinced that he sent a shouty email with pictures of me/Sophie Falkiner to every news desk in Australia.
'!!EXCLUSIVE!! A NEAR UNRECOGNISABLE SOPHIE FALKINER GOES FOR A MAKE-UP FREE MONDAY!!'
I have worked in celebrity magazines for most of my career and immediately suspected this loosely translated to 'Wow! Sophie Falkiner has really let herself go!'
Admittedly, in the pictures, my arms look like their 'Wheel Of Fortune' spinning days are some years behind them. My make up -- yep, I was wearing PLENTY -- is barely visible thanks to the camera's flash. My jawline -- which always looks so defined when I see my reflection -- has morphed into a melted chin-neck.
But the more I looked at the pictures of myself -- clutching a coffee, checking my phone, looking actually a teeny bit like a celebrity! -- the more I realised I'm fine with my less-than-'perfect' self.
And so was everyone else. The guy I was dating at the time texted me to tell me he thought I made the prettier 'Sophie', and my colleagues found the pictures hilarious. It was the ultimate weird ice-breaker a week into a new job.
What I looked like didn't matter too much. While it's reassuring to know some people can look past a little chin-neck on a woman, it was strange to realise I simply didn't notice someone taking photographs of me for nearly 10 minutes.
The celebrity news editor I once was screamed "hypocrite!". But it was a tiny, awkward glimpse into what it might actually be like to be famous, a karmic retribution that I probably deserved.
And that's what fame is now -- whether you accept it or not, famous person.
You're going to be followed, photographed, caught off guard, shouted at and goaded. You won't always know it's happening, but whether you're in the first flushes of love on a romantic holiday (hey, Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston), or lurching through a very public divorce (think Johnny Depp and Amber Heard) or just in a Sydney side street (me/Sophie) -- rest assured the paparazzi are everywhere.
Behind every single shot you see of a famous person is another person whose job it is to relentlessly follow them. While some are complicit in the game, calling the paps and striking deals, many more are not. Alec Baldwin once rather eloquently complained that the paparazzi 'have made an appointment for me that I wasn't aware of'.
He's not alone. Just ask Britney Spears or Katy Perry -- who lambasted paps in Sydney when she was here recently -- or Aerosmith's frontman, whose 'Steven Tyler Act' protecting celebrities against intrusion was passed in Hawaii several years back.
My almost-brush with fame illuminated two things. That, unsurprisingly, it isn't nice when someone has an appointment with you that you're not aware of, which maybe makes the former celebrity news editor in you feel guilty, and maybe that's no bad thing.
And also that anyone can look famous, and dreadful, glamorous, or tired and make-up free if you capture them in the right frame. It's a brilliant illusion that makes famous people appear more famous, more beautiful, ugly, angry, important and glamorous than the rest of us.
Julia Robert's character in 'Notting Hill' was spot on when she said: 'The fame thing isn't really real, you know'.Suggest a correction