Ethics Don't Pay
I started shooting photos for Smartshoot in July of 2013. They pay either $300 or $350 per job. This works out to almost $70 per hour. I was on my way to making $75,000 per year, part time!
These jobs were for Apartmentguide.com and Rent.com - online apartment rental websites. Apartment complexes pay a LOT of money to be listed. One of the benefits - virtual tours and professional photos are shot of the complex a couple of times each year. At least 8 virtual tour images and 50 unique photos. Here is where the problem eventually started. I soon found out that smartshoot.com was screwing over the apartment complexes, rent.com and apartmentguide.com - how?
I shot an apartment complex that was not ready for a shoot. Waist high weeds on the "splash pad" that had not been maintained all year, two of the models were gutted, there was broken glass on the deck, rotting mulch piles and more. The one unit I was able to shoot had stains on the walls, burned out bulbs and was a mess. Even the apartment complex sign was gone - vandalized and destroyed almost two months earlier. After the shoot was complete, I (and the apartment manager) explained to Smartshoot the various problems. I was able to shoot only 30 photos and 6 tour images - and I spent amost 45 minutes weeding and cleaning up broken glass to get those! When I spoke to the people at smartshoot (they never give their names), I was told that "It would be taken care off."
10 minutes I received notice that I needed to re-shoot the location. I again called and explained that they were not ready, would not be ready, and that the apartment manager stated they did not want anyone shooting for at least three weeks.
They told me to go back anyway - sneak onto the grounds. I was then told to "Stand in one place and shoot the same tree 30 times from a slightly different angle." "...whatever it takes to total 50 photos." I was speechless. In one email, they told me to trespass and commit fraud. After more emails and conversations, smartshoot.com had a simple message: The customer can't tell the difference. Shoot anything 50 times and tell them "you took 50 unique photos." They also insisted that I shoot the sign. I reminded them that there was no sign. "We require the sign be shot." At this point, the only thing/person I wanted to shoot was the idiot I was talking to.
I explained that 30 shots of the same tree are not unique, and sneaking on the grounds could get me arrested. "Yes they are unique- they have different file names. You're not sneaking - you're shooting photos." Seriously. When I complained about this "order", I expected "Thanks for bringing this to our attention - this is not how we operate." Instead it was "This is how we do things."
I then left a message on a Facebook page used by smartshoot.com photogs. I told the story. The responses included "I routinely shoot 20-30 photos of the same corner in a room to pad the photos. Smartshoot encourages it." "It's factory work. Just don't ask questions." and "It's not about quality or unique photos - it's about quantity - volume."
Yes, defrauding the customer is the way smartshoot.com officially operates. I have all the emails, Facebook discussions and more. Smartshoot.com is ripping their customers off and sees nothing wrong with this. I did. And it cost me over $100,000.
I contacted the founders of the company. Upper management. The message was clear: Rock the boat, and you're fired. Breaking the law is required if you want to work for us.
Justin McCarthy and John McWeeny should be ashamed of themselves. They founded a company based in deception and fraud. The GM, Steve Young, personally told me that there's nothing wrong with this. Really? You hire a photographer to shoot say your wedding. He provides you with 200 photos of the cake, all shot from the same spot, but the camera was at a slightly different angle each time. "Here's your 200 unique photos!" Would you accept that BS? Smartshoot.com sees nothing wrong with doing exactly that.
Ethics. They don't pay in today's business world. OH YEA, AND SMARTSHOOT STILL OWES ME OVER $1200...