Yesterday I was approached by email and complimented by a international company called Plum Guide who appear to be expanding their business outside of London and across the UK.  In the email was a link to apply to work with them. Naturally, I googled the company and was impressed to see their passion for design and aesthetics throughout their website. I admit I was quite excited.

Hi James
I work on the talent team here at The Plum Guide – we like to think of ourselves as the Michelin Guide of homes for short-term rentals (New York Times article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/travel/london-vacation-rentals.html). We only select the top 1-5% of homes in a given region for our site – the most striking and beautiful homes.

Your profile seems like you could be a great match for our freelance photographer position in Cornwall. If you are interested, please click here to apply: https://discover.plumguide.com/best-job-in-the-world/

I followed the enticing link ‘best-job-in-the-world’ and filled in all the requested information for the registration, including a link to a portfolio and CV. The process took about 30 minutes in total. The following morning I received an email from Plumb Guide stating that my application had been unsuccessful. Anytime an ‘application’ for a freelance job is mentioned I generally become suspicious and so should anyone. I read further and discovered that while my portfolio was up to scratch, it was my fee that was deemed unacceptable.

Dear James,

Thank you again for your interest in joining Plum Guide. We appreciated the chance to learn more about you and are grateful for the time you spent on the application.

We have reviewed your candidacy and unfortunately, after careful consideration and although your portfolio is great, we do not feel that your salary expectations fit the role at this time. As we continue to grow and expand, new opportunities will emerge, and we encourage you to check back and see if any might be a good match for you. We wish you luck in finding your next venture, and thank you again for considering us.

Best wishes and safe travels,

The Plum Guide Team

Unfortunately, it would appear that Plumb Guide’s aspirational art and design values are shallower than they look. I decided to do a little more digging and was able to obtain a link to a job posting by Plumb Guide which outlined what they were prepared to offer as reimbursement to photographers.

Hours & compensation

You will be paid between £60 to £120 per photoshoot, depending on the size of the home. We estimate a photoshoot will take between 2 and 5 hours. This includes travel time to and from the visited homes if you’re based in London.

Let’s just quickly break these numbers down. Assume the realistic situation where you would get one job per day at the middle offered rate. Post production time of 1-2 hours needs to be taken into account here as well. Let’s say 4 days a week in order to allow time for other integral business acitivities.

£90 * 4 jobs  * 48 weeks (4 weeks holiday) give an annual income of £17,280.

But wait, as a business we need to take into consideration the costs required to do business as a photographer.

Camera and lens equipment: £1,000 per year (not fully professional equipment)
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop £120 per year
Public liability and indemnity Insurance: £300 per year
Transport: 45p per mile 10 miles per property 10 * 4 * 52 * £0.45 = £936
Accounting: £350 per year
Website: £500 per year
Marketing budget £500 per year
Total = £3706

£17,280 – £3,706 = £13,574

This is £3,430 less than the minimum wage let alone taking into account London living prices.

Elsewhere in the UK the offered rates are likely are even lower.

What we see here is the continued exploitation of the gig economy workers the UK.

If you believe this is unethical and morally wrong then please don’t support companies who exploiting their supply chain. There’s a number of high-end and exclusive holiday property agencies in the UK who offer great opportunities for returns whilst paying their supply chain above minimum wage. Please consider them if you are a property investor.

If there are any photographers, curators, designers who have worked with Plumn Guide or similar companies please do get involved in the comments.