Aug 23 2008

Is Schmap a Scam?

Published by at 9:39 am under Declan,Photography,San Diego

I take a lot of pictures. I’m an amateur with a decent camera, so some of them are ok. I’ve never seriously pursued getting any of them published, but I’ve thought about it.

So I was pretty thrilled to get this email a few months ago:

:: Schmap: San Diego Photo Short-list
Hi Declan,
I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has
been short-listed for inclusion in the fifth edition of our
Schmap San Diego Guide, to be published late July 2008.
Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos has been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photo from our final selection
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse online or download the fourth edition of our
Schmap San Diego Guide.
While we offer no payment for publication, many
photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap
Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and
are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a
maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and
link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.
Our submission deadline is Wednesday, 2 July. If you happen
to be reading this message after this date, please still
click on the link above (our Schmap Guides are updated
frequently – photos submitted after this deadline will be
considered for later releases).
Best regards,
Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

The link went to a permissions page to use the photo that didn’t seem bad. I Googled around to see if anyone else had dealt with them and looked at their site – and it all looked ok. So I said sure. Hey, I’ve got an ego… ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few weeks later I get this in the mail:

:: Schmap San Diego Fifth Edition: Photo Inclusion
Hi Declan,
I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fifth
edition of our Schmap San Diego Guide:
Downtown San Diego
If you like the guide and have a website, blog or personal
page, then please also check out the customizable
widgetized versions of our Schmap San Diego Guide, complete
with your published photo:
Thanks so much for letting us include your photo – please
enjoy the guide!
Best regards,
Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

Pretty cool! Indeed, if you go to you will see some text about San Diego with my picture up at the top left.

I still had the feeling that this was too good to be true. The picture is an ok San Diego skyline, but it’s not great. There’s too much water for the frame size and the proportions are kinda dinky. Yep, them are pro terms… ๐Ÿ˜‰ The main thing that was bugging me is that the URL they gave me had a specific URL in it.

So, I went to the root Schmap site and surfed to the San Diego map, explicitly NOT using their URL. As I suspected, I couldn’t find my picture at all.

I’m guessing that Schmap plays on the desire to have one’s picture noticed so that the photographer will link to their site, thus elevating their page rank. Rather than a promotion of my picture, they are using my desire to have my picture used to further their site with that widget.

Scam might be too harsh of a term… This is a form of mutual promotion, but it feels less than honest on Schmap’s part not to include the photo in a general search for San Diego.

21 responses so far

21 Responses to “Is Schmap a Scam?”

  1. Jennyon 23 Aug 2008 at 10:12 am

    I’ve got a couple pix in Schmap – one in Toronto, one in Seattle, and they’re both findable. I don’t habitually use Schmap when I’m traveling myself but it doesn’t feel scammy to me. And I can get your SD skyline pic – it’s just not the first one in the slideshow for downtown.

  2. declanon 23 Aug 2008 at 11:25 am

    Thanks Jenny – what URL did you start at to get the the slideshow?


  3. Davidon 23 Aug 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I found it too. I started at and clicked on downtown,gaslamp and there was the slideshow. You were about the 15 or 20th picture in on the slideshow. (past pictures by “Lil’E” and “Carmen SanDiego”)

  4. Sue at eLuckypacketon 23 Aug 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I’ve got one on their Northwest edition … of a hotel we stayed at in Portland …

  5. Sue at eLuckypacketon 23 Aug 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Sorry – bad link. Here’s the good one:

  6. Rob Abdulon 18 May 2009 at 11:20 am

    It is not fake, I got one of my pictures selected from my flickr account.

    I can locate it from the root of the site.

    Personally the picture that was selected in my opinion is average, even my nan could of done a better job.

    I have other images that I have taken which I am mighty proud of.

  7. Suedeon 20 Jun 2009 at 7:58 am

    No, it’s not a scam. What benefit would they get if they scammed you?

  8. Rob Abdulon 07 Jul 2009 at 1:07 am

    @Suede, you’re right, I do not see any immediate benefits that spring to mind.

  9. Suzanneon 28 Jul 2009 at 8:50 am

    Of course, you get free advertisement of your photo, too, so maybe it’s mutually beneficial.

  10. jayon 09 Aug 2009 at 5:04 am

    I just recently had the same thing happen to me. I curious and found your website. I think it is a way for the website to get some free advertisements from blogs….but I suppose that I am using them also!!

  11. orpyon 09 Dec 2009 at 11:57 am

    Hey, I just got one of those and said yes for a picture I took in Long Beach, CA! I hope it’s not a scam…

  12. sfson 10 Dec 2009 at 5:32 am

    I am on the same boat as you. I barely check my Flickr and yesterday when I checked it out, I noticed I received an email from then a week ago. It was just an average picture but my ego was up there. Now it’s back down, :(. It definitely motivated me to go out to shoot some more photos. But congrats to all of you that had got your picture chosen. Look on the bright side, there are probably thousands of pictures of San Diego or Portland, and ours just so happen to get picked. I hope it’s not a scam and I hope we do get a little more traffic to our Flickr’s.

  13. dougon 15 Dec 2009 at 9:50 pm

    i got one as well…lol…for a shot of the old cemetery in virginia city,nevada,to be included in the reno guide coming out in mid january…what the heck…it’s just sitting on flickr anyway…plus,i didn’t see where i’d have to pay anything like some of the book publishing scams that are floating about…

  14. livon 23 Dec 2009 at 11:06 am

    Are they taking your money? Are they tricking you some how? No – then it’s not a scam. They are saving money using photos found on flickr vs. paying for the rights for them from ‘professional photographers’.

  15. spiny normanon 31 Dec 2009 at 10:45 am

    @liv: I’d say flattering vain amateurs into giving away free photos to a for-profit site comes under tricking you somewhow. That’s kinda scammy.

    And why the quotes around professional photographers? Such people do exist, though they have a hard time these days, because scams like this have devalued commercial photography.

  16. onyx23on 13 Jan 2010 at 8:28 am

    I was wondering myself if this was a scam, but I went ahead and submitted the photo chosen. At first I was thinking I was special and was all excited, but when I searched for schmap, it’s almost like they send out thousands upon thousands of these type of requests.

    My girlfriend who is a graphic artist for an ad agency was kind of upset with me for allowing them to use my photo as it takes jobs away from pro photographers. I was scolded heavily by her and schooled on how the whole process from her side is done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Zhuon 08 Mar 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Same here, they contacted me a long time ago to have permission to use one of my picture. The picture they picked really isn’t great, it’s actually the first one I took with my old camera.

    I wonder what they get out of it… weird.

  18. Kurton 11 Mar 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I read a post by someone who had read their entire disclaimer, and in it, schmap says they have the right to use your photo for promotions without compensation to you, and, though their guides are currently free, they may create paid premium versions in the future in which your photo is used, again without compensation to you.

  19. Umeshon 16 Jun 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Same thing happened to me today and I let them use it coz I think it will help to advertise mine. Its 150px photo so not that much but they use your name or website or blog whatever you mentioned so that you can get visitors.

    I said OK and its not scam I think.

  20. Dave Hitchborneon 29 Jun 2010 at 1:32 am

    I called for my photographs to be removed after I saw the misinformation used in context. Everything was just incorrect. One photograph in particular had loads written about it that just wasnt true.

    Look for particular places on the map and you will eventually come across mistake after mistake.

  21. Mark Iliffon 14 Jul 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve just been flattered in the same way. The things that make me uneasy are (1) the photos they chose have – according to my Flickr stats – never been viewed and (2) there are way better shots in the same set of the both subjects.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply