This Instagram Power User Built a Massive Following Using Stock Images…


There’s nothing better than making it big on Instagram if you’re a photographer, right?

Finally, the world is seeing your work and recognizing your talent.

After all, isn’t that the goal of building up these massive online portfolios filled with photos and videos you have taken?

Even if it is just your lunch or a mundane walk down the street, your community deserves to see what you create.

But what if you could build a massive following the easy way – and that is by using the talents and creative efforts of other people?

Image via Leah Kelley from

One power Instagram user did just that and his methodology for amassing such a huge following is both painfully simple but raises disturbing questions about the utility of Instagram as a platform for creative work.

After all, if you can build a huge fan base using stuff you neither created nor own, why even attempt to do it in the first place if you’re legitimate?

Instagram photographer Daryl Aiden Yow wasn’t just trolling his fans, either – he actually claimed these stock images were his own work. Now that’s just bad form in general.

Of course, Resource Magazine asks the overriding question: How did he think he was going to get away with such brazen theft?

It’s all a bit of a mystery, especially since some of his allegedly sponsored posts also featured stock photography. Singaporean magazine Mothership published an expose on the whole affair and even did side-by-side comparisons of Yow’s work with that of the stock images they emulate. Let’s just say the similarities are so striking that either Yow took the photos from stock photography websites or he has a case against a bunch of them. One image was purportedly taken while Yow was on a beach this month, June 2018, yet the photograph matches a cover for a book published in 2012 that is coincidentally called “Ten Traveller’s Tales,” prompting Mothership to speculate that one of those tales must be about a time traveler.

Since publishing their story Mothership has also noted that Yow is clearing out his Instagram of the offending photos. When asked about his Instagram photos in a previous interview Yow said that all were professional work because he is a “photographer and there are different expectations of [him].” Mothership has yet to hear from Yow or any of the big name collaborations he has partnered with over the past two years.

You can view Mothership’s collection of offending photographs here on their website.

About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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