We demonstrate that photonic emitter manipulation can be used to image the nanoscale topography of a fluorescently labeled layer in confocal imaging. We exploit the fact that a metallic probe manipulates a fluorophore’s photonic environment, and thereby its fluorescent lifetime, in a strongly distance-dependent manner. To image surface topography, a metallic probe that is not in contact with the surface is rasterscanned over a fluorescently labeled sample. The axial position of the probe is kept constant. At each lateral probe position, the fluorescence decay is recorded and analyzed to obtain probe – sample distances and hence, the topography of the sample. We present images resolving a microfabricated step of 14 nm in topography, with the probe positioned at different axial positions.