Von Wong's Message for Success

Recently I found myself going through Facebook when I came across one of Benjamin Von Wong's videos. After watching the video by Empty Duck Digital, I felt like he hit the nail right on the head with his response to people's common questions of “What preset do you use? What equipment do you use to make that happen?” Like he states, people are always searching for the fastest and easiest steps to speed up their workflow. I understand why, but at the same time, most of it can’t be done. “Time and hard work” are his answers, and I completely agree.

Take a minute and let that sink in a bit. Do you understand yet?  While yes, presets, plugins, and other fast and easy ways help, at the end of the day, these are just tools. I come across many photos online where I can tell the skin retouching is done by plugins, and for me, it completely kills the final piece, as it would with some preset. When either is used correctly, I think they can enhance your work. I don’t think photographers should simply rely on them as their main post-processing method. You may have snapped the photo, but is the end result your style? I would think it falls more into the artist’s style who made the preset or plugin. You liked their work and wanted your photos to look like theirs, thus you purchased their preset.

Besides my opinion on the uses of plugins and presets, these are not cure-all solutions. There’s no easy way to make an amazing piece of art. You need to get out there, plan, build an amazing team, venture out into the world and get some amazing backgrounds into your set. What if you can’t? Well, then get ready to spend more time at your desk. A very well done composite piece still takes hours; it’s just in your seat at your workstation inside of out in the field.

Many of us get asked the camera settings on a shot. It's very useful information, but at the end of the day, without spending the time, effort, and hard work, your results won't come close. If you think writing down the numbers of each setting is going to work, think again. It could be a great starting point, but there are so many variables that come into play. 

It’s time, it’s hard work, and the truth of the matter is there’s no fast way around it.  — Von Wong

I loved hearing this and agree wholeheartedly. I remember when I explained how long some of my work took. I was told I should not spend as much time and make it easier and faster to edit by some. For me, the thought of cutting out my process would mean the final result wasn’t my style. This is why I was hired or booked for the shoot. My style. My look. Not something I shot and ran a plugin or some preset on. It was the time I spent post-processing the images. 

Von Wong had a great message with his video from this shoot. After reviewing Ka Amorastreya’s work on her website Serpent Feathers, he knew they had to work together, and the work is phenomenal. On Von Wong’s blog post "Fear to Success," he explains the story of how this shoot came to be. For many, Von Wong’s work is an inspiration. After watching his video and reading the story, I am motivated to start planning and collaborating for my next big project. Check out Von Wong's complete set here.

What are you thoughts? Do you agree with Von Wong’s response? 

All photos used with permission of Benjamin Von Wong.

Alex Ventura's picture

Staff writer Alex Ventura is a professional photographer based out of the Houston area that specializes in automotive and glamour with the occasional adventures into other genres. He regularly covers automotive related events for Houston Streets & Spekture with some publications in the United States.

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Thanks for the coverage :)

Thanks for the advice! Big fan!

Thank you and love your work. Keep inspiring us all!


Every Von Wong BTS I watch, I just want to be around him and give him a high five!!

Von Wong is my BIGGEST inspiration ! This video to me, is the most powerful. The message is short, quick, and to the point ! I'm a HUGE fan !


Is this video not over two years old, not his most recent and been covered in fstoppers before? (The latter I could be wrong on)

You are right, I didn't even check the date on when the video was published. I was just seeing this for the first time.