• Report: #732052

Complaint Review: Image 1 Studios, LLC

  • Submitted: Sun, May 22, 2011
  • Updated: Sat, June 18, 2011

  • Reported By: Jason — Kansas City Missouri United States of America
Image 1 Studios, LLC
3130 Hwy 25E South Tazewell, Tennessee United States of America

Image 1 Studios, LLC Image 1 Studios Private Contractor Travelling Photographer Executive Portrait Legal Paperwork Dispute Tazewell, Tennessee

*Author of original report: Forgive me, Ma'am

*UPDATE Employee: Get Facts Straight

*Author of original report: To the Employee that posted

*UPDATE Employee: Image 1 Studios

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Ok, so here's the story.  I saw an ad posted on Craig's List for a traveling photographer in my area.  I decided that I'd apply for the position.  At first things were going great.  The woman I was interacting with, her name was Heidi, and she was very friendly and helpful at this point.  The Craig's List bounce/encrypted e-mail mask would not take my portfolio size, so I decided to send a message.  Below is the ad (After it was edited to reflect "Portrait" emphasis), the initial e-mail I sent, her reply, and my reply to her.  This all took place between May 15 - May 17.

Traveling Photographer (Kansas City and surrounding areas)

Date: 2011-05-14, 10:35AM CDT

Reply to: job-yysc3-2380645480@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]

Our nation-wide executive portrait photography company is looking for
superior photographers/retouch artist to add to our team for better than
average pay. You must have world class customer care and be willing to
travel extensively. You must have a strong understanding of Photoshop.
We have clients in all states and we are growing as fast as possible
to meet their needs. Must be willing for immediate training.

Please include a brief cover letter and resume along with several samples of your work - particularly portraits.

Location: Kansas City and surrounding areas
Compensation: $800-$1,200/week + plus semi-annual bonuses.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

My first e-mail:


    I have been trying to send my cover letter, resume, and
mini-portfolio to you through the provided craig's list e-mail link on
your advertisement.  However, I believe the 13MB .PDF Mini-portfolio
file is being rejected by the craig's list forwarding service due to
size, it's not giving me very much information, however this is the only
determination I could think of.  Do you have an E-Mail address which I
might be able to send this to directly?  Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank You,
***** ******


Her Response:

On 5/17/2011 7:19 AM, image1studioscl5@gmail.com wrote:

Hello Jason!

Thank you for your persistence!  Please send your requested materials
to this address instead. (image1studioscl5@gmail.com)


Sent from my iPhone


My Response (which as you read will tell you held my Resume, Cover Letter and Partial Portfolio):

Hello Heidi,

    Thank you very much for the information.  I have included with this
e-mail an attached copy of my cover letter, resume, and mini-portfolio. 
However, I went and re-read the advertisement again and it seems to have
changed from general photography/portfolio requirements to portrait
centric requirements.  I will compile a few more portrait shots over the
next couple of days and get them to you as well.  However, I wanted to
get my resume and portfolio in for immediate consideration so you may
see the type of work I do in both photography and retouching.  I thank
you very much for this opportunity.

***** ******
p. ***.***.****

So, that all sounds good right?  Yes, I would agree, she's very helpful and very communicative.  However, I now had a name of a company I could look for (the Craig's List advert didn't mention the company name).  So, I searched for Image 1 Studios in google, found another Ripoff report, and the same report posted on a scam informative site.  That was the first minor redflag.  The report detailed the guys issue with them not being able to reschedule an interview.  His dealings were with a woman named Stephanie Hurley (You'll see her name later).  I figured 1 report, 1 angry guy, that's ok, these things happen.  However, the website also looked hokey.  He wasn't able to find their website, however, I found it at www.image1studios.info.  First red flag here is the domain.  .info is free to register everywhere I believe, and even if not, it's what? 8 dollars to register a .com for a year?  and, image1studios.com was not taken when I checked the other day.  The second red flag in this is the fact that their website looks like it was designed just to have a site, there's no content, the 1 "Album" is locked, there seems to be "Other Albums" that have no existing buttons, and there's 3 posts on the side (presumably the guestbook) asking for passwords to view things.  The only information on the page is that they are executive photographers, and do onsite photo retouching.  However, the locked album that is there is for a family reunion?  How does this even make sense?

The next day (Thursday), I get a telephone call at 8:30pm, which turned out to be a mini-interview.  It was Heidi and she asked me several questions about my prior experience, my camera experience with different brands/bodies/lenses, questions about my studio lighting experience and if I minded traveling a lot.  She mentioned that I would sometimes be away from home anywhere from 1 week to 1 month.  I have no pets, and my fiancee is in school pretty much full time, so I didn't really take issue with this.  The interview went smoothly, and she had said that she had several other people to contact and if she was still interested that she would call within 48 hours to schedule an interview. 

The next night (Friday Night) at 8:30pm again, while I am in the concession line at the movie theater, Heidi calls, and gives me the good news that she wants to interview me on Monday.  This is where things start to get really fishy.  During this call, she mentioned a few things, that my interview would be on Monday some time, and that tonight she would send me an E-Mail with the address, and attached to that e-mail would be a Non-Disclosure Form.  That's pretty standard, but then she dropped the news, "I need you to sign and have this notarized BEFORE you come in for your interview.  I CANNOT interview you without it" she then proceeds to tell me "You'll see a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo on there, but all it really says is that we have marketing trade secrets and you cannot divulge those to anyone".  At this point, I am trying to pay for food at the concession stand and decided I'd read the NDA when I got home.  I kindly said "Ok, I look forward to meeting with you" or something to that effect and we hung up.

Later that night, I get home, and there's nothing in my inbox.  I go to sleep wake up in the morning.  Still not there.  I decide to call her.  I get her voicemail and leave her a message expressing that I had not received the e-mail yet, and to please call me if something had gone wrong, maybe it was lost in cyberspace, you never know.  No return call all day.  So, at 8:30pm (on a saturday night mind you) I try calling again, she answers the phone, so I explain I had left her a message and that I still had not received the e-mail.  She explains that the "Admin's" mother in law passed away and that I would definitely receive this NDA and e-mail tomorrow (Sunday).   Now I must ask at this point, does any of this sound legit to you?  They wish for me to read over and sign a legal, binding document within 24 hours? AND have it notarized?  Anyways, I leave my concerns inside my head for now, hoping that the e-mail would get to me early and I could call my Lawyer (A good friend of mine) and have him look it over for me.  No such luck.  I receive the next e-mail at 4:19pm on Sunday and here it is below (complete with the NDA (Parts bolded for pertinent info).

Hi Jason,
This email is to confirm your interview appointment on Monday, May 23rd @
3:15pm with Heidi Hostetler. Attached you will find a Non Disclosure
Agreement. Please bring a signed, dated, and notarized copy of the
agreement with you. Ms. Hostetler will be unable to interview without
this completed document.

The interview location is: Leawood Executive Suites4745 W. 136th St. Leawood, KS 66224
Yours in Service,

Stephanie Hurley
Image 1 Studios
Vice President of Operations

---------------------------------<Attached NDA with bolded parts>----------------------------


Agreement (this "Agreement") is made effective as of
(date) _____________,
by and between Image 1 Studios,
LLC, of 3130 Hwy
25E South,
Tazewell, Tennessee
37879, and _______________________,
of _________________________________,
_______________, Kansas.

this Agreement, the party who is requesting the non-disclosure
from the other party shall be referred to as "Image 1", and
the party who is agreeing not to disclose
shall be referred to as "photographer/applicant".

is interviewing to be
an independent contractor for Image 1.

For a period of 5
or as long as is enforceable by the laws of the State of Kansas,
whichever is longer.
After the effective
date of this Agreement, photographer/applicant
will not directly or indirectly engage in any business that competes
with Image 1.
This covenant shall apply to the geographical area that
includes within a 50 mile radius of any offices or associated offices
wherein Image 1 operates
in all states depending on enforceability
utilizing states' laws

For a period of 5 years, or as long as is enforceable under state laws wherein Image 1
operates, after the effective date of this Agreement, photographer/applicant will not directly or indirectly solicit business from, or attempt to sell, license or provide the same or similar products or services as are now provided to, any customer or client of Image 1. Further, for a period of 5 years, or as long as is enforceable under state law, after the effective date of this Agreement, photographer/applicant will not directly or indirectly solicit, induce or attempt to induce any employee of Image 1 to terminate his or her employment with Image 1.

Image 1 will pay compensation to photographer/applicant for the covenants of photographer/applicant in the amount of $.50 per year.  This compensation shall be payable in a lump sum on date of interview.

Photographer/applicant will not at any time or in any manner, either directly or indirectly, use for the personal benefit of photographer/applicant, or divulge, disclose, or communicate in any manner any information that is proprietary to Image 1. Photographer/applicant will protect such information and treat it as strictly confidential. The obligation of  photographer/applicant  not to disclose confidential information shall continue for a period of 5 years or for as long as is enforceable under state law, whichever is longer, after the effective date of this Agreement. Within the period of one week after receiving a written request, photographer/applicant will return to Image 1 all records, notes, documentation and other items that were used, created, or controlled by photographer/applicant.

This Agreement contains the entire agreement of the parties regarding the  subject matter of this Agreement, and there are no other promises or conditions in any other agreement whether oral or written.

The parties have attempted to limit the non-disclosure provision so that it applies only to the extent necessary to protect legitimate business and property interests. If any provision of this Agreement shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be valid and enforceable. If a court finds that any provision of this Agreement is invalid or unenforceable, but that by limiting such provision it would become valid and enforceable, then such provision shall be deemed to be written, construed, and enforced as so limited.

It is agreed that if photographer/applicant violates the terms of this Agreement irreparable harm will occur, and money damages will be insufficient to compensate Image 1.  Therefore, Image 1 will be entitled to seek injunctive relief (i.e., a court order that requires photographer/applicant to comply with this Agreement) to enforce the terms of this Agreement.

This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Kansas.


Image 1 Studios, LLC

Image 1 Studios, LLC




I bolded the necessary "Spooky" bits to make it easier to read.  Basically, in my understanding of this "NDA"  it's a whole lot worse than just "Marketing trade secrets"  If I was to sign this PRIOR to the interview, I'd be basically saying, I will NOT work for any other photography company that competes with them on any level (So far all I know is executive portraits, pictures, and event photography, as well as any retouching I do could be taken from me for 5 years or more), it also states that I will give them anything they ask for that I used on one of their shoots, so if I happen to use my own camera, or lighting, or anything else, I have to give that to them. That last one may be a stretch, however, at this point I am not willing to take any chances, I want to have my attorney read it for verification. So, I send an e-mail to Heidi, she replies, and I reply back, I will post them in order below.


Hello Heidi,

   According to the time stamp on the e-mail I received from Stephanie, the message hit my inbox at 4:19pm this afternoon.  I don't mean to be picky or anything however, you guys are asking me to read, process, comprehend, and sign a legal agreement with notarization in less than 24 hours.  My Interview is at 3:15pm tomorrow afternoon.  I understand that it may affect my standing with your company, however, after reading this agreement, it is telling me
that I may not work for any of your competitors for the next 5 years without knowing the first thing about who and what image 1 studios does and who your competitors even are.

   There are a few other things inside this agreement I am unclear on and I would like to have the opportunity for my lawyer give it a read before I sign it.  It is for this reason that I must ask to reschedule the interview for a later date and time.  I will need at least Monday and Tuesday for this process, which means that I could be ready to interview anytime Wednesday or later.  If you absolutely need me to interview tomorrow or Tuesday, I must regrettably decline your invitation.

   I sincerely hope this does not hinder what could be a good relationship between myself and image 1 studios, and that you have time for interviews later this week and I look forward to an answer either way.  I thank you for your time and consideration.

***** ******

Her reply:

On 5/22/2011 6:26 PM, image1studioscl5@gmail.com wrote:


I'm sincerely sorry to hear that, and I wish you all the best.


Sent from my iPhone


My reply:


    Please try to understand.  I really do want this interview.  However, I know 0 about your company, and you're asking me to sign away 5 years of my passion based on that.  The whole point to an interview is for you to find out about me, and me to find out about your company.  By signing this agreement, I am under the impression that I would not be able to work for even Olan Mills or some other portrait studio, nor would I be able to work for any event photography, or any photo retouching places.  It also seems, by this document that I wouldn't be able to even work for myself in these fields.  All of these things for the next 5 years... That just doesn't seem fair without giving me some information about who you are and what you do first.

     I have tried to research Image 1 Studios and seem to come up with  different businesses when doing a google search.  I am pretty sure that the scam report posted is about this particular Image 1 Studios, as well as some other things that point to you being a reputable company.  However the website for the company is less than what someone would usually expect from a nationwide photography firm that deals with executives on a regular basis.  There is nothing listed about you on the better business bureau either.  Somewhere it was stated that this was a fortune 500 company, yet I find no record of you guys on the fortune 500 list either.  All these things have sort of left me confused and I am in
need of a 3rd party opinion on whether or not the document is safe to sign.

    It's almost as if you're asking me to buy a one of a kind brand new concept car that's never been reviewed by anyone, seen by anyone, or heard of by anyone, and then telling me it's the only car I can ever drive for the next 5 years, and not telling me about it's safety ratings, gas mileage, other cars in its class, etc.  I would really like you to reconsider, or perhaps explain about image 1 and it's competitors so that I may make a more informed decision on what to do with this
NDA.  I hope to hear from you.

***** ******

I still have yet to receive a reply from her.  If one happens to come up, I will update this post.  However, I strongly urge anyone that has applied or is attempting to apply for this company to seriously re-think their strategy.  It seems very fishy that they will not give me time to have this analyzed by a lawyer, and it seems even worse that they're wanting me to sign something this rigid in such a short amount of time.  They would have effectively owned my career in photography for the next 5 years had I signed this document.  I am sure of this, and my lawyer hasn't even called me back yet. 

As stated, and just to reaffirm, I will be keeping this post updated if I get any more information.

Thanks Ripoff Report!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/22/2011 09:59 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Image-1-Studios-LLC/Tazewell-Tennessee-37879/Image-1-Studios-LLC-Image-1-Studios-Private-Contractor-Travelling-Photographer-Executive-732052. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Forgive me, Ma'am

AUTHOR: Jason Nalley - (United States of America)

Now that the subject takes care of the apology for my confusion of your sex, you must have sucked as a paralegal, just saying.  When 3 ACTUAL Lawyers, who have passed the bar exam in the states of Kansas and Missouri, have looked at it and told me it was good I didn't sign it, there's a problem. 

Next, I've seen PLENTY of corporate photography done by Olan Mills, while they do specialize in Family Portraits, corporations do go to other corporations to get their pictures done, and Olan Mills has a large number of corporate clients.  I know this for 2 reasons, 1) I've worked in corporate America most of my Adult life and have had pictures taken by Olan Mills for this purpose, and 2) There's several job postings on career builder and monster from Olan Mills (or at least were when I was looking for a job), for portrait photography that clearly stated in the description "working with corporate clients" and "Corporate Portraits" and "Pictures for Business Cards".  The other thing you should take away from this, is that Olan Mills also does travel to their clients, just as Image1 does, in fact, the corporate end of things for Olan Mills, sounds very close to what the lady from Image1 was describing to me over the phone.  My real point to all of this is, no matter where you work in photography, businesses will go to what they can afford, if they can only afford Olan Mills, they'll go there, if they can afford to spend more, they'll go somewhere better.  Don't turn your nose down at something because you are some hoity-toity wannabe photographer who thinks she's awesome because she has a degree from Nossi college of art, and takes pictures of mangled faced rednecks in Tennessee.

Also, on the subject of education, Image1 was willing to hire another friend of mine with a GED, not that education has anything at all to do with Photography to begin with, he turned them down because the pay wasn't where he needed it to be, so I don't even know why you brought that up. 

Now question, Being an ex-paralegal, would you advise someone to sign an NDA with less than 24 hours before an interview, that doesn't specify if the terms are after you get the job or not, and states that you may not work at any company that competes with the company the NDA is for?  Lets not even use Image1 as an example here, since you so vehemently believe what you believe.  Lets take this same NDA, and apply it to AT&T business class phone service, would you advise one of your lawyers clients to sign this very same NDA when it applies there?  If you would advise them as such, you were just a bad paralegal and probably left because it wasn't your thing and you didn't comprehend, or got fired for good reason.  The person signing this NDA, even if they didn't get the job, couldn't go work for Verizon, nor could they work at any other company offering business class phone service.  If you think I am wrong, I think you need to go back to law school.

Lastly, if you read what I posted initially, and the reply to your rebuttal, you will clearly see that the legal portion of it was only PART of the problem.  When I asked to give me an extra day or 2 so I could have a lawyer look it over, since they failed to get it to me in a decent amount of time (Sunday late Afternoon, and my interview was on Monday mid-day), I was responded to with what is quite possibly the shortest and worst e-mail from a hiring manager I could ever think of.  Any company, no matter who you are, that's unwilling to give someone 48-72 hours to look over, double check, and sign a legally binding document, that could potentially block any further career moves in their chosen field, is a company that I would view as shady, underhanded, and very unforgiving.  It's also a company that I wouldn't want to work for, so no harm no foul.  However, I believe people have a right to know, and the fact that another guy went through something similar and felt the need to post here, only proves that my case is not unheard of, which further compounds the need for my original post.

Once again, HONOUR, I am very glad that you like the company and things are going so well for you, I just hope that one day they don't try and enforce the terms of this NDA on you.  I feel you should know Image1 also did event photography in the past and might still, for AT LEAST family reunions, this is according to their website, which also means, if you have a friend hire you to do some freelance work at her family reunion, you might be in breach there too.  Maybe you should learn to look before you leap, all I know, is that you need to get off your moral high horse and quit speaking about things you obviously fail at.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

Get Facts Straight

AUTHOR: Honour McLeod - (United States of America)

As I stated earlier....get your facts straight before you speak.  You called me "sir."   My name is HONOUR McLeod...HONOUR pronounced HONOR.  I am NOT a "sir" thank you very much.   I worked as a paralegal in Florida and I know how to read...well.  The places you stated working for, I can assure you, will in NO way be competing against Image 1 Studios.  To work at Olan Mills, Sears, Walmart Picture Me Studios, just to name a few requires a high school diploma, only.  They are no threat to Image 1 Studios, as most individuals in the corporate world will not have their photos taken at these places.  I am sorry you feel Image 1 Studios is a sham.  There is an elite group of photographers employed by Image 1 that knows for a fact it is not a sham.  Have no fear of me filing further rebuttals; I was taught at a very young age not to enter into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.  
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#3 Author of original report

To the Employee that posted

AUTHOR: Jason Nalley - (United States of America)

To the Employee,

I have clearly posted the NDA that they asked me to sign.  It's in there, try reading it.  What they have told you may be true, maybe they don't care about it.  However, legally speaking, according to now 3 lawyers who have read this NDA, if they wanted to, they could come after you.  Take the NDA to your own lawyer (the one I posted) and have them read it. 

I will briefly put the concerning line here: For a period of 5 years, or as long as is enforceable by the laws of the State of Kansas, whichever is longer.  After the effective date of this Agreement, photographer/applicant will not directly or indirectly engage in any business that competes with Image 1. This covenant shall apply to the geographical area that includes within a 50 mile radius of any offices or associated offices wherein Image 1 operates in all states depending on enforceability utilizing states' laws

The above lines show you that you may not work for any business that competes with Image 1.  It doesn't say reveal marketing secrets, it doesn't say steal business from them, it flat out says you may not work for anyone or engage in any business with anyone that is a potential image 1 studios client.  Like I said, they may not adhere to this, but they can legally.  AND to top it all off, this is regardless of if you get the job with them or not.  So, sir, perhaps you should read the entire post before you respond again.  While you're at it, please read the circumstances behind why I ultimately didn't get the job or even the interview, they scheduled an interview with me, and gave me less than 24 hours to read the document, and then, when I requested that a lawyer be allowed to see it, I was basically told "sorry you feel that way, goodbye".  No understanding, no compassion, no care.  I wouldn't work for a company like this even if the NDA wasn't as legally confining as it is. 

My point is, odds are this job will pan out for you, and be great.  You'll get paid, have a steady income, and most likely be happy.  But if you happen to be that 1 out of 1000 people that they decide to go after legally for any reason.  Your boys are in a bind, seriously.  Maybe you need to read more carefully, and maybe you should have an objective lawyer read it without giving them any foreshadowing into your feelings about the company.  Just saying dude, that NDA is BAD.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

Image 1 Studios

AUTHOR: Honour McLeod - (United States of America)

My name is Honour McLeod.  I was recently hired by Image 1 Studios.  I too read the NDA agreement over and over again.  If you read it correctly it does NOT state anywhere that we cannot and will not work for studios such as Olan Mills, Sears, etc.  As a matter of fact I am free to do other freelance work that I choose as long as I do not try and take away business from Image 1 Studios, or tell others how to do what Image 1 Studios is doing.  As long as I let them know at least three weeks in advance that I am doing a free lance job, I am free to do so.   I watched Lawrence go through the motions of day to day operations, from setting up, to working with clients, etc.   I can honestly say that this is a legitimate company with very high standards.  I feel honored (no pun intended) that Lawrence hired me as one of his photographers.  Yes, his standards are very high, photography skills have to be met, editing skills have to be met, but it is for good reason.    There is nothing wrong with an owner hiring only those who qualify.  I am 8 weeks away from officially having my associates degree in Commercial Photography.  Not just anyone can do this job.  If you own a camera, that does not make you a photographer.  You have to know what you are doing otherwise you are not a photographer, just a camera owner.  Before you slander someone you really need to know all of the facts.   I commend Image 1 Studios for having such high standards; customers should have only the best.  And I also commend Image 1 Studios for wanting to protect their company and ensure no one "steals" their ideas and takes away from what they have worked so hard for.  After all, they are no different then Coca Cola!  They too have employee's sign contracts stating that they will not "sell" the recipe!!    Every one has the right to protect their investment.  It is called COPY RIGHTS!!  Image 1 Studio's has every right to Copy Right their ideas and work!   .  

Oh, and the person that states that Image 1 Studios has the right to take our equipment...that is just ludicrous!!  The images that we take with our camera belongs to Image 1 Studios, NOT the camera!  There is a huge difference!  

As for there being no images to view online...it's called right to privacy.  Not all clients want their photos out on the internet for all to see.  Especially when they pay to have the rights to those photos.  

I will get off my soap box now, but in the future try and refrain from bashing companies or people that work for those companies when you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.
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