Benjamin Von Wong is back with another magnificent set from his latest series, ‘Surreal Lava Portraits,’ where he ventures out on the Big Island of Hawaii to photograph some lava flows with his team and models. If this was anyone else, I would jump to the conclusion that this is all composited together to make the final image. But with Von Wong, this is all real.
Even with the experience of a professional photographer and all the planning before heading out to shoot, things don’t always go as expected. Unfortunately, during both nights of the shooting, Von Wong's team had some unexpected turns of events. But with some creative improvisation and talent, Von Wong was still able to produce some masterpieces for this series.
Yes it would have been easier to take photos of the lava flow for backdrops and composite the model in afterward, but you can’t argue with the results, nor with Benjamin’s philosophy of "trying to get it right in camera."
Many of you might have thought that’s what they did -- that they pieced together several images to make the final masterpiece. Seeing the video and behind-the-scenes photos of all the work that was put into this series demands a higher level of appreciation. For me, it brings more inspiration and motivation to get out there more, scout for more locations, plan more images, build a good team, and, last but not least, be ready for the unexpected and improvise.
For this series, Von Wong used the Sony a7R II paired with the 16-35mm lens alongside the Broncolor Siros L strobe and the Canon 600EX-II Speedlite with various diffusers. In one of the photos, Von Wong even used a white T-shirt to help diffuse the light since it was still too bright. It all comes down to what you have available and how to put it to use. These photos are breathtaking, and if you would like to purchase a print, make sure to head over to this page. All proceeds are going to support the victims of Hurricane Matthew.
You can also check out Von Wong's blog post about this series as well as the longer director's cut of the behind-the-scenes video below.
- Photographer: Von Wong
- Model: Tau Samuels
- Guide & Lava Expert: CJ Kale
- Video: Valentina Vee
- Stylist: Emmanuelle Néron
- Assistants: Andreas Knüttel, Tamahere McCabe, Paulo Mendes, Jana Harshey, Chris Harshey
- BTS Photography: Paulo Mendes,Valentina Vee
- Costume: Dracolite
- Equipment: Broncolor & Hawaii Camera
All photos used with permission of Benjamin Von Wong, Paulo Mendes, and Valentina Vee.