David Beckham biographer seeks unpaid picture researcherAUTHOR TOUTS “PRICELESS” OPPORTUNITY… TO WORK FOR FREE


An author writing a new book about David Beckham’s career has been caught trying to recruit for an unpaid picture researcher. The advert states “There is NO Pay, but, the contributor will have the opportunity to have their name forever linked with a book about David Beckham… PRICELESS!”

Tracey Savell Reavis – who is signed to Scarecrow Press, which also publishes books about Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi and Tori Amos – is the latest employer to be exposed by Graduate Fog’s Every “Shame intern Scrooges” Christmas campaign. We have already exposed the gift and clothing store JOY, and four big fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, Jonathan Saunders, Julien Macdonald and Heidi Klein.

Every day this week, we’re targeting a well-known employer, reminding skinflint bosses of their duty to pay their junior staff a fair wage for their work. Graduate Fog’s friends at Intern Aware will then pass the details on to HM Revenue and Customs, who last month pledged to investigate all cases forwarded on to them.


This is the advert in full, posted on Gumtree:

Photo Researcher (UNPAID Intern/Volunteer) for Author of sports book
Manchester City Centre
Contract type: Temporary

Veteran journalist who has covered sports at Sports Illustrated magazine, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the United States Olympic Committee, Callaway Golf Media Ventures and CBS Sports is writing a book on the career of English football player, David Beckham that will be published in 2014.

An UNPAID Intern/Volunteer is needed to contribute photo research.

The photo researcher will:

Research photos to select for the book (approximately 50 total), then contact agencies to acquire the correct information for obtaining reprint rights. The contributor needs to be someone who knows a good photo when they see it, is great with details, is organized in collecting information, and is professional, as they will need to speak with many different photo agencies and photographers.

There is NO Pay, but, the contributor will have …

The opportunity to have their name forever linked with a book about David Beckham … PRICELESS!

Must be intelligent, resourceful and hardworking. Prefer someone photo knowledgeable or an
experienced researcher with references.

Hours/Length: May be 1 or 2 per day, as many as 10 per week. Will run from Nov. –Jan. or until all of the photos are selected.

As an Intern/Volunteer: You will receive credit for your work with your name being listed in the
published book as a photo researcher.

*School course credits may be available based on your college policy.

To Apply: Please send brief note why you are interested in the opportunity along with your resume.

Interviews by phone or Skype will be scheduled.

This is what happened when we dropped Tracey a line:

From: Graduate Fog
To: Tracey Reavis
Subject: Photo Researcher (unpaid)

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to you from the graduate careers blog Graduate Fog, about the position of Photo Researcher which we have seen advertised on Gumtree. This is the link:http://www.gumtree.com/p/jobs/photo-researcher-unpaid-internvolunteer-for-author-of-sports-book/1035533263

The advert states that the position – can you please explain why? From the advert it sounds very much like this person will be contributing lots of useful, valuable work to your organisation. As such, surely they should receive a wage for this?

We will be blogging about this next week so if you would like the story to include a response from yourself, please respond by the end of the day on Tuesday the 3rd.

In the meantime, please could you drop me a line back now, just to confirm that this request has been received and give an idea of when we might receive a response?

With many thanks

Two days later, she wrote back:

Thank you for contacting me and I absolutely am not trying to abuse anyone.

This is not a scam. I am a first time author, with a contract with a small publishing company. I did not receive an advance, and will only receive a small percentage of book sales. If I had the money to pay for help, I would gladly pay.The photo research will not take a long time, and I offered to get the student credit in school. I was merely hoping to give an aspiring journalist an opportunity to gain some experience. I did the same for no pay when I was getting started in my career.

Thank you for contacting me, and thank you for doing the work you do. I am certain many are benefiting from it.


We replied:

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

However, I’m afraid the explanation you offer is unlikely to be acceptable to Graduate Fog’s users, who feel strongly that unpaid internships exploit those who do them and exclude those who can’t afford to do them. An employer’s ability to pay their interns is simply not relevant here.

UK national minimum wage law says that anybody doing the job of a ‘worker’ must be paid for their work – and they cannot waive their right to wages, even if they say they are happy to work for free as it is good experience.

Now that we have drawn your attention to this, can I confirm that you will re-think the arrangement for this job? It would seem that your options are to pay this role at least the minimum wage, or do the picture research yourself.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Thanks again

She then said:

Absolutely! I had no idea I was breaking a British employment law!
And as it turns out, you are the only person who responded to the advert. So in the end, thank goodness, no one was exploited. To meet my deadline I will be doing the work. And this is a great lesson to have learned!

Thank you again for bringing this to my attention and good luck with your work and the service you provide.


Why aren’t we doing a victory dance? Because Tracey’s last email was sent on 3 December – and the advert is still up.

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