Influencer Daryl Aiden Yow Admits Paying For Stock Images To Create Composite Photos

Daryl Aiden Yow Tells His Side Of The Story, Denies Plagiarism & Theft Accusations

UPDATE: Daryl has apologised for his actions. Read more here.

A storm is brewing on Instagram, and the fate of a local photographer’s reputation is at stake.

Daryl Aiden Yow woke up this morning to a flood of DMs from concerned fans on Instagram after an exposé was written regarding his work.

The photographer’s 100,000-strong following loves his composite shots featuring wildlife, landscapes and food.

However, many have turned against him following accusations that he’s stolen photos from stock photography websites to create his pieces.

Hilarious parodies in the form of a social media challenge have even emerged on the net.

There’s Now A #DarylAidenChallenge Hashtag Full Of Hilarious Photoshops

We spoke to Daryl over the phone, to try to understand his side of the story.

Stock photos are paid for, not stolen

He tells us that any photos used in his work are paid for on websites like Shutterstock and that he has “the receipts” to prove it.

We’ll be updating this post if he sends them over to us as promised.

In addition, if photos are taken from other photographers or Pinterest, he would “duly tag them” in his posts.

However, netizens have observed that he only began tagging related parties after the scandal blew up on social media.

His work is not “sold for personal profit”

Daryl also claims that he does not sell such photos for personal profit.

We asked him instead about work that he does with brands — in particular, creating sponsored content and posts.

Clients are aware stock photos are used

For client work, he explains that his clients are aware of the costs of these purchases.

Daryl says that he would even submit the receipts to them upon completion of the job.

As for the captions on his Insta-posts, he says that he never claimed they were taken live at the scene depicted.

We discuss whether this argument holds water later on in the article.

He says some paid photo credits are not required

Daryl elaborated that for instances where there were no photo credits, it may have been because the Shutterstock images featured required none after purchase.

Describing his work as a “composite of different layers”, he used the example of a galaxy picture.

Which may have required 4-5 different layers, and thus a combination of multiple stock image purchases to achieve.

And further questioned what kind of “crediting standards” would be sufficient, for such work.

Attends Photoshop workshops & hosts photography workshops

In order to fine tune his Photoshop skills for his work, Daryl apparently attends paid workshops to pick up techniques.

Of course, he does host his own photography workshops as well, teaching photography skills to others for free.

Workshops like the one he hosted in Dec 2017 — a 1-hour affair at Orchard Central’s UNIQLO, in collaboration with his client, Sony.


A previous attendee of this particular workshop says he used his work on Instagram as references to give advice.

Not on Photoshop skills, but on photography techniques in particular.

He also did not share how he used Photoshop to achieve the composite pictures featured, if any.

“A fine line”

With multiple opposing narratives to this issue, Daryl said he wasn’t too upset about the allegations.

He spoke of how he thought there was “a fine line” as to whether creating original work based on stock photographs, was still considered plagiarism.

Daryl also understands that people who are casual viewers “may not understand” the work that goes behind creating such shots.

In response to the saga, he told us that he would be releasing his official statement on Instagram soon, so do look out for it.


Admittedly, the interview over the phone left us with many questions unanswered.

So after Daryl ended the call with us, we sought to confirm if what he said was true.

Image courtesy of Daryl Aiden Yow

This photo with “paddlepop” skies at Santorini was captioned with the phrase “Hours well spent waiting for this!”, before it was deleted.

Image courtesy of Daryl Aiden Yow

While this post had the caption,

Standing out in an open field with an astronomer…I would really really like to feel that feeling I felt that night again.

Which contradicts what he said about not claiming to have been where the picture was taken.

Image courtesy of Daryl Aiden Yow

Lastly, a shot location tagged Santorini, with vivid purple flowers in the foreground, had him saying it was taken with a Sony A7RII camera.

He added,

Look at the kind of colours this camera produces! #A7RII

If the full picture wasn’t shot on a Sony camera as stated, that would indeed constitute false advertising.

It’s key to note that he also did not specify which clients in particular were aware of his methods.

Daryl did promise to send over evidence to prove his case, and we’ll be sure to keep you guys posted if he does.

A composition of dire implications

We do think his reputation as a photographer, will inevitably be sullied after this incident.

After all, it’s hard to take on the mantle of “photographer” and yet have a substantial proportion of your work turn out to be composite photographs from stock images.

Though he says he did not intentionally deceive his fans, it’s a pity that current evidence available seems to suggest otherwise.

Mad props for his sick Photoshop skills though.

Let us know what you think in the comments below about Daryl’s side of the story.

Also read:

There’s Now A #DarylAidenChallenge Hashtag Full Of Hilarious Photoshops

Featured image from Daryl Aiden Yow and Norikazu on Shutterstock.

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