We live in a shrinking world. Case in point: Brian Steenstry, photo retoucher at Hanson Dodge Creative. You wouldn’t look twice if you saw him sitting in his usual booth at the Michigan Street Diner, but his work is getting noticed internationally.
At the end of the day, when all the client work is done, Brian likes to visit worth1000.com to participate in Photoshop contests. It keeps his skills sharp and provides a fun creative outlet. He never meant for it to be more than that. Others had different ideas.
“My inbox started filling up with requests for images. I got offers from an agency in New Zealand, a German magazine, a Russian Web site... It was crazy.”
Not Going Anywhere
With so many options, we were concerned that Brian might get poached, but he was quick to lay those fears to rest. “When I walked into Hanson Dodge Creative for the first time, I felt like I had arrived. I didn’t know anybody here, but people treated me like I had been here forever. Besides, the coffee is just too good. I’ve had the coffee in Europe. It’s nasty.”
Begged, Borrowed and Stolen
Brian is hesitant to release his images for publishing, citing copyright issues with source images for which he couldn’t find owners. There are, however, exceptions. Most notably, one of Brian’s images appeared as a hero shot in a prominent German magazine called “Stern” (“Star”).
Some of his other images have been downloaded and distributed illegally all over the Internet. This is an obvious sore spot for Brian.
“I was contacted by an agency who wanted to buy my “sumo ski jumper” for use on billboards, but I couldn’t sell it. One of the source images is a shot of a sumo wrestler named Konishiki. I didn’t know it at the time, but he’s like the Brett Favre of sumo. I knew there would be copyright issues, and even if there weren’t, I didn’t want to publish an image that insulted Konishiki. Meanwhile, some unscrupulous hack is downloading it and chopping off the watermark so they can call it their own.”
“I had lots of people asking me how I did the ‘chrome cherry’ image, so I did a tutorial on how it was put together. I’ve seen that tutorial on the Web in languages I can’t even identify. To me, that’s much more satisfying than getting a few bucks for an image. Somewhere in Russia, there’s a kid learning Photoshop with help from me. I put a very high value on that.”