Yu Wei Responds to His Ladder Photo Winning on Nikon Contest And Going Viral

Jan 31, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Yu Wei Responds to His Ladder Photo Winning on Nikon Contest And Going Viral

Jan 31, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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composite by Mezame Shashin-ka

DIYP was one of the first to report about Nikon Singapore awarding a trolley bag to a Photoshopped photo (you can read the full story here). While both the internet and Nikon SG have been having a great deal of fun with the photo, Yu Wei have been taking quite a deal of abuse. From something that was supposed to be a fun photo contest, this has become an open season on Yu Wei.

His Instagram account (which is quite awesome) was flamed with bad comments, some bordering on harassment.

If you have not been around here is the original image Yu Wei submitted

Nikon Fake 2

Yu Wei has made a huge apology on his Instagram account and he also sent us the following letter.

Yu Wei’s Letter

I am the one who submitted the Chinatown plane post, and I would like to address it.

I’ve been quiet so far because I’ve been trying to contact Nikon and have been waiting for them to contact me back to discuss about this. I understand that what I would say might affect Nikon’s brand hence I decided to wait for their advice. However, since more than 24 hours have passed and I have not managed to have discussions with Nikon, I think I shouldn’t wait and it’s important for me to come out to address this issue.

Like one user commented, I was on a photo walk in Chinatown and I chanced upon that set of ladders. I snapped a picture of it, and subsequently felt that a plane at that spot would make for an interesting point of view. Hence, I inserted the plane with PicsArt and uploaded it to Instagram. That’s how I use Instagram, sometime it’s to showcase the work I’m proud of, sometimes just to have fun. This case, that small plane was just for fun and it was not meant to bluff anyone. I would have done it with photoshop if I really meant to lie about it, but no, it was a playful edit using the PicsArt app and uploaded to Instagram. When my friends commented with some questions, I also answered it jokingly, saying it’s the last flight of the day and saying it was my lucky day that I did not wait too long. At that time, of course everyone who read it took it as a joke, before this issue arrived and it is taken seriously.

However, I made a mistake by not keeping it to Instagram as a casual social media platform. I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition. I meant it as a joke and I’m really sorry to Nikon for disrespecting the competition. It is a mistake and I shouldn’t have done that. I also shouldn’t have jokingly answered Nikon that I caught the plane in mid-air and should have just clarified that the plane was edited in using PicsArt. This is my fault and I sincerely apologise to Nikon, to all Nikon Photographers, and to the photography community as general.

This has been a great lesson to me, and I hope I will be a wiser person to use this as encouragement to polish my photography skill. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I also appreciate all the supports from friends around me.


My Thoughts

I think this got out of hand.

I think that if someone wants to have some fun, he is totally entailed to do so. And I think that the creative vision in this photo outweighs the fact that it was poorly shopped. Comeon’, if he wanted to cheat, his compositing work would have been much, much better, no?

Where do we go from here?

Photographer and digital artist Mezame Shashin-ka (who made the title composite) has some ideas:

Being a digital artist myself, I understand the urge to create something really beautiful using software, bringing to reality the fantastic what reality could not in my images.
I left comments on Nikon’s Facebook page, suggesting that perhaps they could launch a contest that allows digital artists such as myself to submit composites instead.
Others have recommended that Nikon take a second look at their rules and regulations to ensure fairness and authenticity amongst participants.
Very few photography contests offer such rules, and I think it would do great service to the photography community to have such contests, as long as the rules and regulations or guidelines for the competition are clear.
At the end of the day, I have come to realize that Yu Wei is just like any of us creatives.
We all want to take beautiful pictures and share amazing images with the rest of the world.
To Yu Wei, keep on creating amazing images.


looks like Nikon are taking the image down after discussing with Yu Wei. That would be pretty sad, as the comments on this photo are golden (good thing we have screen shots) Here is what Nikon says:


We are heartened that the community is so passionate about maintaining the highest standards of pure photography. We recognise that the image “Look Up” has drawn a lot of commentary from the community largely because it is not a reflection of photography. As such, “Look Up” should not have a place beside other good contributions from the community that represent this standard.
We have engaged with the contestant on this, who has offered to withdraw from the competition in agreement with this conclusion. These reasons compel us to do the right thing by our community and by the standards that are expected of Nikon, and as such, we will shortly be removing “Look Up” from our pages

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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30 responses to “Yu Wei Responds to His Ladder Photo Winning on Nikon Contest And Going Viral”

  1. neilvn Avatar

    Nope … this is disingenuous. Didn’t he describe on the contest page how long he waited for this perfect shot?

    And now to claim that if he had wanted to list about it he would’ve used Photoshop? Please.

    And by claiming he meant it as a joke, and that is how everyone took it … he is still now owing up to being dishonest.

    1. Silver Pik Avatar
      Silver Pik

      I wonder how others will feel, if there was a toy plane hanging top of ladders? No cheating, no Photoshop, no “mainpulation”. Straight out of the camera perfect shot.
      Photography, quite often, is manipulation with our visual senses. Forced perspective, filters, color manipulation and this is OK, but this isn’t?

      1. neilvn Avatar

        He lied about how he did it.

        It is about the dishonesty, not the technique per se.

  2. Rohan Anderson Avatar
    Rohan Anderson

    He’s just sorry he was caught.

  3. John James Avatar
    John James

    LoL….Nikon… LoL

  4. Adam Frimer Avatar
    Adam Frimer

    Based on his apology I totally think he cheated.
    You cheated
    You got caught
    Now it’s a joke? He basted in the glory of the success of the photo while it was raising in popularity… He even addressed questions about the plane. He just washed his hands they still smell like shit v

  5. Adam Frimer Avatar
    Adam Frimer

    I think this song could be dedicated to him

  6. Petar Maksimovic Avatar
    Petar Maksimovic

    I didn’t know the Gangam Style guy was into photography…

  7. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Nikon Singapore should bear a bigger blame

  8. Michael Richard Tran Avatar
    Michael Richard Tran

    What else. He made it to 9gag ?

  9. Simon Prunty Avatar
    Simon Prunty

    He cheated and can’t even just admit that he did straight out. He repeatedly says he “jokingly” did this and that. Bullshit. He’s trying to make it sound like he innocently did it. There’s no innocence here, he just cheated, simple as that.

    1. ikillflesh Avatar

      He “cheated”? So you saw entry rules that said how entered contest pics could be edited?
      He “lied” is accurate.
      But why do you care so much? That’s the strange thing.

      The fact that you’re commenting on something you have no idea to be true is, to put it kindly, ironic. It might even be bullshit. And it might even be libel, which is worse than simply telling a lie.

      1. ext237 Avatar

        “But why do you care so much? That’s the strange thing.”

        There is nothing strange about wanting to see solid integrity in photography contests — and honesty in the entries.

  10. Meureu Avatar

    Joke or not joke,, the picture id beatiful.
    The idea is good enough to me.
    I’d rather know he worked a bit on his picture to show us this instead beibg just lucky.
    There was an effort,, maybe mislead by the will of winning ( or not), but he worked his image.
    It is not an informative or journalistic image, it just intended to be beautiful.. And it is.
    In the end it’no big deal.

  11. Vladimir Byazrov Avatar
    Vladimir Byazrov

    He should not apologize to anyone. And he should not lie about how he made this picture either. He submitted this image and this is nobody’s business how he created it. It’s not a true journalism photo contest. He is entitled to create art the way he wants. But he was pressed and he started to make wrong comments. There’s nothing wrong with image. Only with his answers.

    1. ikillflesh Avatar

      Nokia should have been the only one apologising. The photographer should have simply sat mum.

  12. ikillflesh Avatar

    flaming from the diy commenters..about a kid
    because, of course, you’ve never lied..or ps’d something. (But he LIED about it!!)
    Every mag cover and ad EVER is one huge lie.
    So, please, tear this kid down over a bs Nikon contest.
    He might be a better photographer than you.
    But he’s definitely a better marketer than you.
    And that’s what really bothers you.

  13. Rick Avatar

    Looking over his instagram account, I’m beginning to see a pattern here. He clearly cheated on this one too


    and this one


    and this one


    The pattern I’m seeing is fairly clear…. most of the people posting here today are jerks. No sense of humor, no lives, people who merely expend the better part of their energy bringing others down to the suckhole of a reality where they exist.

    Sure he let the joke get out of hand and handled it poorly once it turned serious but I doubt he thought there was even remotely a chance of winning when he flippantly submitted the photo and wasn’t prepared for what was to come when it did. Get over yourselves people. If he had intended to cheat, he would have done a much better job altering the photo.

  14. Dave Kai Piper Avatar
    Dave Kai Piper

    it is all just funny an I am sure we all see that, some people might just use this poor lad to grand a few axe’s. haters gonna hate !

  15. ThatPhotoManTrav Avatar

    He’s only sorry because he got caught and now that a whole community of people who he “respected” have ruined any chance of him ever being something in this industry. He knew what he was doing. Appreciate the apology he made, but he will get no sympathy.

  16. Deacon Blues Avatar
    Deacon Blues

    I call bullshit. That kid crossed the line when he submitted the picture to a contest. Then he even had the gall to lie about it and now that it’s blown up in his face, he claims it was a joke? GTFO with that crap.

  17. Roberto Morocutti Avatar
    Roberto Morocutti

    I think it’s a shame that a Nikon web operator doesn’t pay enough attention on viewing the images submitted to a contest, at the point of not seeing such an obvious issue like the image discussed above. I noticed the fake plane at the immediately first sight despite the fact I was seeing the post on a little smartphone screen!

  18. catlett Avatar

    This apology/excuse, to me, reads much like the ridiculous “I was hacked” response to poorly thought out Twitter and Facebook posts.

    It was a non-event posting it to Instagram. The issue was submitting a cheat to a contest and the intellectual laziness of whoever at Nikon didn’t catch it. Just admit it kid … you exercised some poor judgement because people complimented your creation then instead of owning it you lied and said it was a joke.

  19. Richard Tack Avatar
    Richard Tack

    It’s like a poker game when a player surreptitiously palms a chip out of the pot. When you catch him, he’s just “joking.” When you don’t catch him, he’s stealing from you.

  20. Badison Avatar

    But, he copied the entire photo from someone else. See this shot from 53 weeks ago: https://instagram.com/p/yE8of6rX1w/

  21. Sharron Mills Avatar
    Sharron Mills

    He is not the first, or the last, photography contestant to have ever cheated (if he did deliberately cheat). Do not the contest judges have a responsibility to do some basic checks to ensure the integrity of the entrants’ photographs? The photo edit was easily detected and demonstrated once it was known, so why aren’t the Nikon judges the ones copping the flack?

  22. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    LOL, it’s just a joke bro!

    About Yu Wei’s response, here’s the real question: did Nikon’s own photography contest stipulated that editing or photoshopping was forbidden in any way?
    Because I couldn’t find anything about it. Of course, I don’t have access to whatever the photographers received after submitting their work, so perhaps there is something there… but here:
    See? Nothing. If the rules are only that, Yu Wei never broke any rules in the first place… he’s probably even entitled to the prize regardless of Internet reaction.

    I mean, doesn’t matter if people found out later how crude it was, if the rules are not against it, it shouldn’t be a problem at all, for the kid at least.

    It really doesn’t sound nice that he’s going all “it was just a joke, what I wrote was also a joke, blah blah”. Those are clearly excuses. He was, of course, lying, and trying to see if judges would buy it – which they did. But he was only cheating if it broke rules.

    But there’s the real problem with the whole thing, and a big part on why it became a joke, was mocked, and generated such a fuss: not that the kid lied about the photo, but more specifically because it passed. It looks very bad for Nikon Singapore judges and the staff that let this pass – and freaking won at that.

    Not that I personally care about it much, but if you think about photographers that would never even consider doing such a thing before submitting it to the contest, and the hard work that others had, it’s really negative for the contest organizers.

    It’s a photo in which a kid lied, crudely edited a plane in it, yet still won first prize over perhaps other photographers who didn’t do it. So the real point there is this: (in the minds of serious photographers) why the heck should I even submit my work to such a context when the judgement process is as bad as this? Next time I should just photoshop something out and see how it goes, with minimal effort.

    Honestly, I think it’s a waste of time going after the kid for this. He probably learned enough, caught red handed, and regrets it. There’s not much more he can do at this point. His entry was taken out. It would be best if he just admitted that he was caught red handed, but let’s not pretend tons of photographers didn’t do similar things in the past (just more proficiently xD ).

    More importantly though, if Nikon Singapore wants for their contest to be taken seriously in the future, it’ll need a major overhaul… if they even want to be taken seriously that is. I dunno what sort of fame or image people have out of Nikon Singapore photography context. I know it’s definitely not a major photojournalism contest, if only for the fact that it’s local and branded. But in any case, it’s definitely not Yu Wei’s reputation that’s on the line here… it’s Nikon Singapore contest. :P

  23. Joscha Häring Avatar
    Joscha Häring

    His jokes aren’t very funny

  24. Herzy Avatar

    I think all this story is really fun and I like how the photographer was so sincere to tell the whole story and apologize. We don’t need to get angry this much, cause it’s a story of a simple yet nice image. I liked how http://picsart.com/ dedicated a whole blog-post to this and taught me to create new images with plane theme.

  25. Sam Ahmed Avatar
    Sam Ahmed

    he still lying about it, if u check this http://petapixel.com/2016/01/29/nikon-awards-prize-to-badly-shopped-photo-hilarity-ensues/, you can find that he replied to someone on instagram when asked him “How long did you wait for that plane?” and he just answered “Not too long! i was lucky”