Benjamin Von Wong Shows Us How Photography Can Change the World

We all know that humans are destroying the earth, but we live in a time where the destruction has become too much to take lightly anymore. Will artists be the ones to bring the earth together to clean and protect it? Benjamin Von Wong shows us that the answer is yes, and he asks all of us to join him. 

Social change is one of my favorite topics because it can start with one person and spread like wildfire to literally change the world that we live in. Once change ignites, it's unstoppable as a force of people standing together to make life on Earth better and more beautiful for everyone. But how does change begin when government and mainstream media outlets aren't putting much effort towards making the masses care? We make art.

Image of Benjamin Von Wong posing on top of 4100 pounds of e-waste

People don't believe or act on what they don't see, and that's why visual artists hold the key to change. Master photographer Benjamin Von Wong is here to show us that the impossible is possible and to inspire us to use our keys to change. This time, he's tackling the massive problem of electronic waste (or E-Waste) in America by making art with it. Von Wong teamed up with Dell, a company who has one of the largest worldwide electronics recycling programs. To pull it all off, Von Wong worked for ten days with 50 volunteers. The result: 4,100 pounds of E-Waste intricately pieced together into an otherworldly set for the images that are fulfilling Von Wong's hopes to make recycling E-Waste cool.

When speaking about his project and its influence on artists, Von Wong said he'd love to see more people fighting for what they believe in through their art. For any artists planning to take on projects of any scale for social impact, Von Wong shares that the hardest part is starting and committing. He also explained that the deep dark corners of the world are never easy to think about but that the difficulty is worth it when you give back to the world. 

Behind the scenes of Von Wong's e-waste project

In addition to grabbing the world's attention with these mind-blowing images, he's giving back to the first 1,000 people who share images of their to-be recycled E-Waste with him through his hashtag #rethinkrecyclerevive. He is sending out limited-edition postcards signed by the entire project team. Von Wong is also giving away three huge metallic prints. Read more about the postcards, metallic print contest, and how you can be a part of the very cool recycling movement here.

Postcards for those who donate e-waste

Check out Von Wong's blog post to see the final images, the entire process from start to finish, three behind-the-scenes videos, and instructions to receive one of his postcards. I can't wait to see all of your E-Waste and will be sharing my own shortly. I'd also love to hear about your projects and plans to encourage change through your art.

Images used with permission of Benjamin Von Wong.

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Robert Altman's picture

Beautiful work - must be nice to have a 'spare' warehouse, weeks to play in it, and a cast of 'thousands' to create movie set style environments!!

Von Wong's picture

TO get that spare warehouse, 10 days to play in it and someone to help support it financially took a year and a half of meetings and follow ups.

To get the 50 volunteers, was daily social pushes, videos, and friends of friends trying to convince people to come and help out.

Here's the thing - entitlement doesn't get you any of those things. Nor does sarcastic comments online. But what do I know, I'm just a photographer.

LA M's picture

Well said...

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Thank you!!

Robert Altman's picture

Not meant as sarcastic-but your description of the amount of work it took to organize is even more informative as to why most photographers cannot afford to devote that amount of time to this sort of shoot- it is a luxury... That having been said you did a fantastic job - creating beautiful images - which not many could do no matter how much time or resources they could devote to a shoot!! Sorry you took it the wrong way...

Patrick Hall's picture

Photographers who are worth their salt will find a way to do it. It might mean juggling 4-10 of these projects at once until one comes to fruition but it's def what successful people do (not just photographers). It's not a luxury, it's called the hustle and it's the #1 reason why people aren't successful in their fields IMO. Kudos to Ben for doing projects like this throughout the year despite the challenges they present.

Michael Kormos's picture

I think that calling yourself a mere photographer for achieving something like this is a gross understatement. You're a production designer/director . You've put this together from start to finish. Most photographers don't do that. Great shots, and great message by the way!

Mohammed Alamin's picture

Astonishing work as always, not forgetting the efforts of the whole team.This guy is just so awesome that I think there should be a photography genre called "Von Wong".

Von Wong's picture

Thanks Amin, I'm glad you like it!

Deleted Account's picture

Humans are destroying the earth? Changing it, certainly. In the context of your usage, wouldn't "destroying" depend on your idea of what is perfect? I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with your point of view, just your verbage.

Anonymous's picture

To quote Saint George (Carlin): “The planet is fine, the people are fucked.”

Deleted Account's picture

My thinking was, if their (whoever they are) version of an ideal earth is accurate, does that mean every other planet in the universe is FUBAR?

Von Wong's picture

Maybe destroying the ecosystem is more accurate indeed hmm....

Deleted Account's picture

Certainly modifying or affecting it. I'm quite certain, humans throughout history have had similar thoughts and all manner of animals, given a similar power of reasoning, would have done so all the way back to life in the "primordial soup".
I don't like a lot of what's going on but one can't reasonably apply the term, "destroying" to it.

Von Wong's picture

haha a little crazyness never hurt anyone!

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Hehehe sure hasn't, I give my madness 90% of the credit in my art ;)

Christian Berens's picture

WOW! Ben does amazing work, if i hadn't watched the video i would've figured most of that was CG'd. AMAZING!! and great message!

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Right!! I am blown away by the results. Inspires me to do a similar cgi style shoot in the future for sure.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Awesome shoot Von Wong! Your projects are inspirational and refreshing.

Christian Santiago's picture

The photos are incredible. But the real skill is in arranging/ convincing 50 people to spend all that time working for free. I think wouldn't have the balls. I think people would just laugh in my face.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

They won't laugh at you!! And even if they do, there will always be the ones willing to help and those are the only people who matter :). I agree that organizing something like this is scary at first, but after you do it once you will realize that with a solid plan and some confidence you can arrange anything ;)

Ken Yee's picture

Great photos and concept.
Wish you covered a bit about how a lot of that waste is being shipped to other countries to deal with. I'm amazed Massachusetts ships off recycled cardboard to China to pull off staples and tape before it's recycled...and of course a lot of electronics get sent there where some of their people end up getting sick from the heavy metals in the electronics.
Glad Dell does the right thing and recycles in the US.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Not anymore they banned incoming recycling recently! So it's even more important to handle it on our soil as best we possibly can.

Studio 403's picture

I like photo projects that tell a story.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Same here, my favorites. A lot of people can take pretty pictures, but to tell a story is a whole other level ;)

Joshua Ball's picture

Whoa, I've been following the progression on his Instagram and the end product is amazing. Creative, insightful, inspiring.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Isn't it incredible! I love that he shared bits and pieces leading up to this.

chrisrdi's picture

Nice work! You guys have any working IBM Model M keyboards yuh don't want? I'm willing to recycle one of those for yuh lol. Thems good keyboards!

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Haha right! This also made me wonder, how much of it works and could be given to people in need of stuff like this? Not just good will etc but somewhere just for electronics ?