“Teamwork – A word that truly begins to mean something when you’re shooting 25 meters underwater and your model
tied to a 50 year old shipwreck in the middle of Bali where the slightest miscalculation could spell disaster,” – Von Wong
The lines between reality and the imagination are becoming increasingly blurred when it comes to the creation of fashion imagery. Photographers like Tim Walker often use sets and props to create illusions and incorporate elements of surrealism into their work, simply because their visions can only be realised in this way. Motreal-based photographer Benjamin Von Wong has taken his bold concept and made it tangible in this daring and ambitious underwater photo shoot.
Von Wong’s shoot involved taking two models and seven safety divers down to a 50 year old sunken shipwreck in the waters of Bali. The models wore dresses donated last minute by designers whilst they held their breath underwater for the duration of the shoot. Here are the stunning results.
There is a deep sense of serenity and tranquillity within the images captured, the models look peaceful and ethereal and make the job look incredibly effortless. In reality the shoot was a huge challenge, the safety of the models and photographer was an obvious concern as well as ensuring that Von Wong was able to get his required shots. Considering that the team had merely four days to pull everything together it is both impressive and a relief that everything ran so smoothly.
The models were both experienced free divers, able to hold their breath for up to four minutes at a time, and this was clearly instrumental to the success of the shoot. The images sit nicely amongst Von Wong’s other work, which nearly always include surrealist concepts and strong elements of the fictional and fantasy genre. His work has a very cinematic aesthetic, as though they are stills taken from an action movie or Lord of the Rings. This use of special effects has him earned him a name in the Hyperrealism genre. You can find examples of his photography at his website www.vonwong.com
The images perhaps represent another era of fashion photography where the photographers would have no choice but to be both outrageous and courageous in their quest to achieve the winning shot. The concept of the shoot itself is somewhat reminiscent of the work by the late Diana Vreeland who creative directed incredible and vibrant photo shoots all over the world during her twenty six years working for Harper’s Bazaar. Images like this assure a confidence that the fashion industry is not succumbing in it’s entirety to the digital age and that there is still a bit of room for real magic!