Benjamin Von Wong is known for his daring, and sometimes dangerous, photo shoots. Whether it be chaining a model to a shipwreck or lighting massive amounts of fire next to 3 million dollars worth of sports cars, no idea is too crazy. In fact, the more crazy, the more creative Von Wong can be. But not every photo shoot that Von Wong creates is dangerous... to the people at least. Even in relatively mellow settings, Von Wong has to do something to make it more interesting. As he details in his latest blog post, sometimes you even have to have a $38,000 Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 just inches over the water to get "the shot."
It all started when Benjamin flew to Cologne, Germany earlier this year to speak at Photokina. While his schedule was packed, Benjamin made it his mission to break away from the work grind and shoot something that inspired him. While searching for a location to create an original shoot, he was told about the Caves of Feengrotten in Saafeld. Once Benjamin saw it, he knew this was a location he couldn't pass up. Exotic, unique, and only a short five hour car ride from Cologne sealed the deal, and Benjamin started organizing the photo shoot. With his large social media reach, Benjamin never has any shortage of friends who are eager to assist and learn a thing or two from this true creative.
Shoot day began by first figuring out where we could go, and where the lighting could be set up. The folks over at the Feengrotten were kind enough to lend us a couple rain boots so that we could reach the most photogenic areas. Schlepping thousands of dollars of equipment through about two feet of water into a muddy slippery grotto was the last thing I wanted to do, but the shoot called for it, and what’s the point of having great gear if not for it to be used?
As a result of striving for the best shot possible, I found myself crouching with wet socks and pants in freezing knee deep water, patiently attempting to light and frame the perfect shot. 38,000 dollars of Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 hovered just inches above certain death should I clumsily trip over my 3LT tripod.
Lighting the sets was equally challenging. Not only were the cave ceilings covered in fragile stalactites, the ground was uneven and surrounded by mud with hints of stalagmites creeping through. The Para 133 we had brought along, though a beautiful light modifier, was quite huge and required two people at all times to carefully move around and make sure that we didn’t destroy the fragile environment around us. A careful combination of moving light and model so the two were in the perfect position was required for each shot. In each instance, the final touch, was to ensure sure that a small kick of light was brought in to light the background and give it that little kiss of depth.
But, as always, the results speak for themselves. While not as flashy and dramatic as some of Benjamin's other creations, they are equally as beautiful, and far from mediocre. A mantra that rings in Benjamin's head often can be seen in the results of this photo shoot: "To create great work, one must never settle for mediocrity."
See more from Von Wong on his website.
All images used with permission from the photographer.