Popular Instagrammer caught using photos from image libraries

Successful Instagrammers don’t win followers by accident. Unless they’re already famous in some other arena, their success on the platform usually comes from snapping consistently striking shots.

Take Singapore-based Daryl Aiden Yow. His images have been wowing fans and brands — Sony and Uniqlo are among a number that have worked with him — earning him more than 104,000 followers. But just recently, news site Mothership spotted something a little odd about a number of his posted pictures.

After some careful research, the site realized that some of Yow’s photos were, in fact, from image libraries like Shutterstock. But Yow had put nothing in the photos’ captions to suggest they weren’t actually his images.

Mothership confronted Yow with more than 10 examples of shots on his Instagram account that appeared to have been bought from image libraries, and he admitted it was true. While some had been slightly altered in terms of color and contrast, others had been photoshopped to include Yow in the shot.

Well and truly humbled, he removed all of his photos from his account over the weekend and replaced them with a single black image and a long apology.

“The outrage regarding how I have conducted myself is justified and I accept full responsibility for my actions and all consequences that arise from those actions,” Yow wrote.

He said he was “wrong to have claimed that stock images and other people’s work were my own. I was also wrong to have used false captions that misled my followers and those who viewed my images.”

Yow added that having promoted himself as a photographer, he had “fallen far short” of what was expected of him and “disappointed those who believed — or wanted to believe — in me. For all of that, I apologise.”

He even appeared to suggest that a number of friends had earlier pulled him up on his actions “whenever they felt that something was not right about my images,” but he said he ignored their advice to change his behavior.

As noted by the BBC, Sony had promoted Yow’s work on its Singapore website as part of a marketing campaign for one of its mirrorless cameras, and described him as a #SonyCreativeAlly.

Yow’s follower count has dropped by about 3,000 in the last few days, and it’s not clear if he plans to start posting images again.

Of course, it’s not the first time a photographer has been exposed for using fake images that claim to be otherwise. Take this effort that won a Nikon contest before the Japanese company had a chance to realize it was a composite. Another competition-winning image — one of an anteater next to a termite mound — also ended up being disqualified, though the photographer has always insisted it’s genuine. See what you think.