Bringing Dreams to Life
by: VON WONG
Models: Nora Li, Camilla Argent
Makeup : Yenny Gunawan
Designer: Ali Charisma
Motivated by the desire to be creatively challenged and overcome impossibilities, Benjamin Von Wong has become notorious for his epic photography. His hyper-realistic art style captures viewers in a fusion of special effects and innovative concepts. Benjamin’s background in engineering gives him a unique edge for creative problem solving, where technical challenges become friendly competition. Fueled by his passion to connect people,
Benjamin has an affinity for finding unique talent to bring his complex stories to life. He is also highly engaged in the photographic society by sharing his experiences and techniques through blogs, social media, workshops and videos.
Benjamin’s original profession was as a mining engineer, but after several years of success in this field, he realized that the job wasn’t what he was meant to do. Starting with a simple desire to pursue something new, he bought his first camera. Now he travels the world, creating photography that pushes the boundaries of what has been done before. Benjamin is a dreamer, and it comes through in the ethereal qualities of his photographs.
It is Benjamin’s big dreams and willingness to take risks that has allowed for the creation of the stunning photo’s featured here. The Epic Underwater photo shoot required several challenges to be overcome, including the need for models that were also free divers, meaning they had extensive diving training, could hold their breaths for a long time, and dive without diving suits, and photography assistants that were also trained safety divers (all of whom had to be found in Bali or willing to travel there), limited lighting and gear, and unpredictable diving conditions and weather. For the Portrait of the Cormorant photo shoot, the challenges were even more complicated. The first was the need to safely anchor a fiberglass boat at a depth of 30 meters. The second was that the splendid image of the underground river was created by photographing in a cenote that was directly above a layer of hydrogen sulfide. While this created the fantastical imagery, hydrogen sulfide is
highly toxic, so extra safety precautions had to be made. The payoff is worth it however, as evident in the mesmerizing images that were created, and it is evident in the following interview that Benjamin would agree. Things worth doing and having are worth working for, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then Benjamin has written us a book on the
power of passion and drive.
CKW Luxe: Why did you decide to become a photographer?
Benjamin Von Wong: A girl broke up with me in November 2007, while I was working in a mine in Winnemucca, Nevada. I figured that if I didn’t find a new hobby I’d go crazy. The stars were pretty, and I thought it would be fun to photograph them. That’s where I bought my first camera.
CKW: How do you find your inspirations?
BVW: The best way to become inspired is to live life. Get out there, meet new people, and listen. Everybody has a unique story, and more often than not, these tales can trigger emotions which may inspire you. Alternatively, looking within can also yield surprising results. I have always found emotions to be a great muse for creativity. Heartbreaks
in particular have always been an impressive source for innovation. If you’re still not inspired, surround yourself with passionate individuals. Their passion is incredibly infectious, and their drive and dedication to persevere will rub off onto you. I’ve written more about inspiration in my blog at www.vonwong.com/blog/inspiration.
CKW: What has been your greatest challenge?
BVW: That’s an impossible question to answer. Each photo shoot comes with a unique set of challenges—lighting a person on fire, suspending them off a rooftop, or sinking them into a shipwreck—all of them are complex, just in different ways.
CKW: What keeps you motivated each day?
BVW: Despite the challenges, financially, physically, and emotionally, that come from making the decision to pursue my passion, I gain a sense of purpose from doing this that can’t be felt any other way. Sometimes, I feel down to my core that this is what I was meant to do. The only way to feel that is by pursuing something you truly love. Long story short, you aren’t motivated every day, but you need to keep going regardless. I’ve written
more about this topic on my blog as well at www.vonwong.com/blog/thinking-ofquitting-
CKW: What are you currently learning?
BVW: Right now, I’m learning how to build a start-up. CKW: What’s your advice to new photographers?
BVW: Working hard is the minimum requirement to success. Don’t go in expecting
it to be easy, but definitely go into it expecting it to be gratifying.
CKW: It is evident in your blog posts and photography that you seek to inspire others. How important is this to you, and is it your way of giving back?
BVW: Inspiring others gives meaning to the work that I do. Sharing is a process that helps not only me, but also those around me, to grow. Together, I believe that we can all have a positive impact on the world.
CKW: What other forms of philanthropy
are important to you?
BVW: I believe in trying to help whenever possible. Since my primary talent is storytelling and social networking, I look for likeminded individuals that want to collaborate together. If you want or know of someone that wants to work together, please let me know!