You Miss 100% Of The Photos You Don't Take - Even Von Wong Doubts Himself

I have been a fan and a friend of Benjamin Von Wong for years. I have seen him turn tech employees into athletic gods and seen him schmooze with the police while on a 13 hour photoshoot deep in a foggy forest. In my eyes, the genius that is buried in Von Wong's creative mind can do anything, and he always knows it. Well, little did I know, the man who once chained a model to a shipwreck to get the perfect shot, often doubts himself, much like all of us. 

When Benjamin is feeling creative, and has some free time, he turns to social media for ideas on what to shoot next. This was the case on a recent trip to San Francisco. Looking for inspiration, he put a call to his fans on his Facebook page. "Anyone cool in San Francisco I should work with while I am here?". The responses started coming in fast and furious, but one stood out to him right away. "You should check out my daughter’s work! I think you’ll like it!:"

The woman's daughter is Ka Amorastreya, an artist and costume designer. Ka's feather costumes are elaborate, beautiful and all designed by hand. Benjamin was mesmerized at the dedication that Ka had put into her work. After reaching out to her to see if she wanted to shoot, and getting a gleeful yes, Benjamin immediately started to have doubts about himself. According to his blog post

I was exhilarated. Mind racing, I started running through all the things I would need to lock down. Dates. Location. Talent. Assistants. All the typical variables that would be needed. Things I knew that I could figure out fairly quickly. Yet somehow, with that exhilaration also came a familiar underlying layer of stress. I was going to be working with someone amazingly talented who was going to give me her time and trust. what if I didn’t get the shots? What if she was disappointed?

Even while shooting with a $38,000 Mamiya Leaf Credo and almost $20,000 worth of Broncolor Move lights, Von Wong still was nervous. What if the location isn't epic enough? What if the lighting didn't look right on the exquisite feather costumes? Those questions and self doubts laid deep within Benjamin all the way until he nailed the first scene. 

All the hard work that we had put into getting to this treacherous location was completely worth it when we managed to capture the perfect wave that just swept in looking like a water horse or dragon. Hands down, my favorite frame of the day. And just like that, I finally had something tangible within my grasp that Ka & Dinah (the makeup artist) were happy with, all the initial unspoken dread and worry that I had accumulated within me that was carefully hidden all throughout the day vanished within me. It was back to directing, having fun and experimenting now that I was certain I had at least one amazing piece in my grasp.


Image after image, costume after costume, the shoot came together perfectly on that windy, Pacific Ocean overlook in San Francisco. As usual, the incredible resulting images make it look easy. But as we know now, even the best in the industry have doubts about themselves sometimes. But it's how you attack those doubts that can turn you into a creative artist. Shy away from the opportunities because of these doubts can be damaging to both your confidence and your career.

 You Miss 100% Of The Photos You Don't Take

Check out more from this shoot on Von Wong's blog, and watch the above Behind-The-Scenes video from Empty Duck Digital



Michael Bonocore's picture

Michael is a full time photographer, traveler and workshop teacher based out of San Francisco, California. Michael's passion lies in international photojournalism, which has brought him to lead photography workshops around the globe. Michael has written guest articles for companies such as Matador Networks, SmugMug, and Borrow Lenses.

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I doubt truer words have ever been spoken (in the world of photography at least) Well said Mr Von Wong!

aw thank you :)

TIME is precious, But what i just couldn't figure yet is HOW i supposed to spend and divide this time.

The best way (in my experience) to figure that out is to simply get out there and try. It doesn't take much experimentation to figure out when you're wasting ur time and when something's getting u nowhere. Makes it easy to switch when you get fustrated at something!

Every time I hear Von Wong speak, he's always so genuine. This video is no exception! You have to dedicate time into the craft and be willing to try things out. He's had lots of time to experiment and see what works, looking at his work, it's evident he has put tremendous time in!!

Thanks Christian, I try my best to put time and effort into everything i do!

Love those wider shots on the wonderful. Ben Von Wong is something all right, he made sacrifices most wouldn't dream of to get where he is. He’s inspiring; makes me want to get out and do something great.