Googling yourself

You must think I have an ego the size of …(fill in the blank with your largest city wherever you may be)

Actually, if you have a website you must do this. Not only will it help you monitor inbound links to your website, but it will help you police your content.

Too many scumbags are out there cutting and pasting words and pictures and passing them as their own thinking they’ll  never be caught.

If you write articles and post them anywhere online, you’re a potential target.

Even watermarking images doesn’t stop them. There are people who are so lazy they can’t even take a screen shot on their own computer screen.

An ebay seller once hotlinked to a screenshot of mine just to avoid paying a fee to ebay. When I confronted him, he innocently asked how could that hurt me.

Everything you see online is not free to use as you please. Respect intellectual property. Bad karma befalls those who don’t.

So you may as well put the system to work for you. The  Google Alert is useful to keep tabs on what’s said about you. you have a common name, you’ll have to sift through a lot of false positives.

I was minding my own business when I got notification that someone used my name online.

lvh1Turns out John Waters, film director, author, photographer has written a book entitled Role Models.

Role Models is described as self- portrait told through intimate literary profiles of Water’s favorite personalities; some famous, some unknown, some criminal, some alarmingly middle of the road.

Anyhow it’s a lengthy 5-part post. Mr. Waters says in the 16th paragraph of his post that I took an amazing news photo by Peter Phun which shows a beautiful but haunted Leslie Van Houten being walked before the press.

What can I contribute to this? Not a whole lot really.

I was there. If I didn’t know better, I would say it did feel a little strange that the bailiffs cleared the hallway of everyone except me and a few members of the press as they brought her to and from the courtroom.

It’s standard operating procedure when they bring inmates through. In this high-profile case, they were probably more careful, but that’s my opinion.


All in a day’s work–Convicted along with Charles Manson in 1971, Leslie Van Houten is led by bailiffs from court following her parole hearing in San Bernardino. I took this picture with a Nikon D1H 16-35 mm lens. The exposure must have been ISO 1600 f2.8 and dark! Those hallways were always a challenge because of the mixed light sources: daylight filters in the large windows on both ends of the hallways and overhead florescent lights. Kind of hard to believe I used to stake out the courthouse to get pictures of folks in orange overalls and matching bracelets.

2 thoughts on “Googling yourself”

  1. Hi Steve,
    I love that gravatar by the way! You’re being too kind about the pictures I took.

    Something lost to a lot of amateurs is this: a lot of times, documentary/photojournalism has to do with being granted access to these types of situations.

    The tight shot of Leslie Van Houten was inside the courtroom could have been taken by anyone these days if they knew the basics. 300 f2.8 telephoto on a monopod ISO 1600. Shooting fish in a barrel.

    The pictures in the courtroom that are hardest to make are those where the subject is being given “kid gloves” treatment by law enforcement. Don’t believe it?

    I’ve been in situations like when it’s a officer of the law who’s in trouble and it’s his/her day in court. He is brought in through a separate entrance or a different one in an attempt to foil any picture-taking attempts.

    You have no idea the kind of shenanigans that go on in courts.

    Typically media submits a request for “camera in court.” If approved, I can take the pictures anytime. Every now and then a judge specifies that there can be no pictures taken “during” the proceedings.

    When the defense attorney knows this to be the case, he’ll get the bailiffs to wait till the judge calls the case to bring his client, the defendant, into the courtroom, then I’m skunked and I’m not allowed to make any pictures.

    My track record in over 22 years has been at least 95% because I’ve been persistent to the point of waiting it out and sometimes catching them in the hallway.

    Of course, there was the time when I took pictures of a snitch/police informant who was on the witness stand. After I took my pictures, the district attorney asked the judge to subpoena my film and not allow me to leave.

    I brewed for a few hours while the newspaper’s attorney, DA, defense and judge were in a huddle. I finally handed the film to the newspaper’s attorney and told him to take care of it, so I could leave.

    It’s probably the most expensive picture I ever took I’m sure–one that never saw the light of day! Sorry I got carried away. I only meant to respond to your very kind remarks.

    Hope you weren’t serious about blaming your parents Steve. That last remark and subsequent one about considering therapy had me in stitches. Thank you so much. 🙂

  2. Excellent advice – unless your name is Steve Johnson which mine is. This does seriously dent any attempts to leverage Google for promotional advantage.

    I blame my parents and I can’t even afford the therapy.

    I agree 100% with Waters assessment of the pic, many many layers.

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