It isn’t as if my name is John Smith or James Johnson. As of the last census, there were 47,323 and 37, 493 of each namesake in the United States. My first name is the 18th most popular in the States, but the last name? Only 28,845 of us standing at 1,368th in popularity. There were only 135 other people named Mark Gunter. Still, I find that I am often confused with other people of the same name.
I have a poor memory for names; but I seldom remember a face.
– W.C. Fields (Fields for President)
With a relatively small chance (roughly 0.00003%) of finding someone with the same first and last name, it makes me wonder how often two of us would cross paths. I’ve run into one in person myself (a second or third cousin). The wonders of the internet, however, have opened the chances to a much wider audience.
Over a decade ago, I found a website using my name. The gentleman who owned it finally allowed the domain to expire. If enough people are willing to contribute towards the $1695 price. I would gladly stake my claim.
For several years, I was regularly mistaken for an amazing Australian photographer. I do not recall how many times I received inquiries regarding a marvelous photo of a cyclist someone wanted to use. I always did my best to redirect them. He passed away in 2015, leaving a wonderful legacy. I still find myself tagged on social media when he deserves all the credit.
More recently, another photographer and I have crossed paths. He shoots far more runway fashion than I have. Once again, I find myself redirecting inquiries and tags to this fine gentleman. I really appreciated the offer to photograph for New York Fashion Week. It sounded like that designer would have appreciated either one of us making the show that year, but I’m pretty certain they were looking for the other Mark.
The takeaway from all these namesake encounters is simple: I am not simply representing myself whether it be as a photographer or simply as a human being. I represent the other Mark Gunter’s of the world, my employer, my colleagues, my family, and my friends.
Whatever your namesake is, protect it. As the proverb says, it is worth more than silver and gold.