Judith laughed bitterly. There are lots of pictures of her floating around, including a bunch of very unflattering ones that had appeared in Locus. Locus, a trade magazine for science fiction (once very influential, now rather eclipsed by the fact that people in the field can get their news online), is famous for running bad-looking photographs. The editor-publisher used to take the photos himself, but now uses professionals. Somehow the quality of the photos isn't really much better, even though the publisher is a terrible photographer and his professionals tend to be pretty good.
I was commiserating with Judith -- Locus will never run a photo of me, and we both know it -- when she suddenly said "No, that's not true -- I'm sure there are photos of you online." And I realized she was right. For the past several years, people who go to science fiction functions and take pictures of people have gone home and uploaded their photos. Anyone who has attended a Nebula banquet or a SFWA authors-editors party in the past half dozen years is probably featured in some group photo that somebody uploaded to a site, if perhaps only briefly.
Judith said we could go to Google and search on Images. I didn't know that Google had this feature (I am always one step behind the cutting edge), but while I was absorbing this, she executed the command herself and her quick DSL line brought up, yes, photos of Gregory Feeley. The nice one from the CD is available, to my surprise. Search on "Greg" rather than "Gregory" and you will indeed find me in a group shot.
So while we're talking, I search on Judith. And oh my gosh! There is a very nice image of her, from a recent just jacket, but there are also . . . awful Locus photos! (Which is why I won't use my friend's real name.) And not just Locus. A deeply unflattering photo put up by the university where she delivered a talk, writers' conference photos taken by supposed friends . . . this is awful. There is even a photo of a very overweight woman who isn't Judith; it was taken at some Women's Studies function described on a site where Judith's name is presumably mentioned.
Everybody knows that even nice-looking folks can be profoundly ill-served by an inept photograph, but this is really rubbing one's nose in the fact.
I have decided that Google Images is a tool of the devil. I will resolutely resist the temptation to look for embarrassing photos of people I don't like. (And I certainly won't look for photos of friends!)