It made worldwide news last week when an altered image won a casual photography competition with Nikon Singapore. The image, shown below, depicts an airplane above a set of ladders, but social media users were quick to point out that the image was altered — and poorly at that, given away by the obvious white box around the plane’s silhouette. Now, after a bout of silence, Nikon has issued an apology.
We have heard your comments and feedback on this, and you are right – we should not compromise standards even for a casual photo contest. We have dialogued internally, with the community and with our loyal fans, and Yu Wei has also posted his own views on this issue. We have made an honest mistake and the rousing response from the community today is a reminder to us that the true spirit of photography is very much alive. Moving forward, we will tighten our image review process to avoid similar situations in the future. Thank you once again for all your responses today – for your humour and most of all, your candour and honesty. We hope not to disappoint you in the future and to continue to have your support.
Most sincerely, your Nikon team
The photography company has since deleted the original post stating the winner, Chay Yu Wei. The photographer of the image also posted an apology to his Instagram page –
Hello everyone, This goes out to everyone who has seen my Chinatown plane post. I’m sorry! This is going to be quite a read so that’s the first thing I would like you to read if you don’t have time to read below; I would like to apologize for the mistake I have done. 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.
Interestingly, DigitalRev has also found indication that the photo idea might not have been Chay Yu Wei’s either. As evidenced by this eerily similar photograph taken by Singaporean photographer Lee Yik Keat 54 weeks ago. At least Lee admitted that it was altered.
The classic lookup #putaplaneonit @instagood #featuremeinstagood A photo posted by Yik Keat (@leeyikkeat) on
What do you think about this controversy?
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