Past the end of the world, into 2013

By on December 31, 2012

Time is an odd thing when you’re a passionate freelancer. Days of the week suddenly don’t matter and everyday becomes a work day… everyday a holiday. The good and bad moments blend into one with the passing of time until all that matters is the present and the future.

I tend to forget the experiences that I have lived through until I look back at the images that I captured. Somehow, the essence of that time period is captured within the photographs and through them I can remember specific moments in my life. As someone who continuously looks towards “the next big project” I don’t normally take the time to look back and reflect upon my life.

This morning as I woke up and checked up on the standard twitter, facebook and email… I noticed that all over the place people were posting up wrap-ups of their year. That’s when I noticed that today actually happened to be the last day of 2012. While I had known year’s end was coming the significance of it hadn’t actually hit me… which led me to the question of: What did I do this year?

Before going into sharing the details of my year, because this undoubtedly will be one of those long tedious post that 2% of people will actually go through (leave a comment if you made it all the way down!), I just wanted to write a big thank you for all those of you who have been part of my life, who have supported me, believed in me, worked with me and been there for me. Whether we have spoken recently or not, I am grateful for having you here and sharing those fleeting moments with you whether it be a comment on the internet, a conversation, or more. As for those of you who have selflessly supported me despite my insanity (you know who you are!), thank you, I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you.

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So what was 2012 for me? I guess it was definitely the craziest year of my life. To summarize:

  • Quit my job as a Mining Engineer after 3.5 years to follow my passion
  • Travelled to Israel for two weeks and met up with Udi from DIYPhotography.netwhich inspired me to…
  • began my blog (over 135,000 unique vists) and maintain a youtube channel(over 300,000 views in 6 months)
  • I crowdfunded 12,500$ to shoot inspiring artists around Europe with Erwan for a month and got my first sponsorship from the SLRLounge and Lovinpix
  • Did my first underwater photoshoot with the Underwater Realm.
  • Specialization in fire photography thanks to master pyrotechnician Andrey Das.
  • Passed 10,000 fans on facebook and took a semi self-nude portraitin response to a fan challenge.
  • Got signed by my first agent, Suzy Johnston + Associates and completed our first project “The Red Mistress” together.
  • Had my first intern, Deidre Casey, come in from Colorado to stay with me for 2 months and work on a variety of projects including an Epic Pumpkin Massacre that won us the Kessler Crane Halloween Competition
  • I travelled through Europe a second time giving speeches and workshopsin Rennes, Paris, Toulouse and Amsterdam
  • Received my first international commercial contract in Los Angeles
  • Gotten published on all over the net in a variety of languages… from Gizmodo, to Lifehacker, to PetaPixel, Fstoppers, SLRLounge, DIYPhotography, [FRAMED], KesslerU, Kwerfeldein, ephoto.sk, and more…And in pictures? One photograph for each shoot I did this year. It’s missing about 6 more that will be coming out in a variety of Behind the Scenes for 2013.

    2012 summary

    It’s a funny sensation having your entire year summarized in a tiny image 800px wide by 217px tall. Looking up at them from so far off, I get the odd sensation that I didn’t actually do very much in the year of 2012 despite the little list I compiled right above. After all, put another way: Is that really all I have to show for a year’s worth of sleepless nights and countless hours of work? Little pixels on a screen?

    Then I remember: It’s more than just the pixels I produce, but the impact that these pixels have on people. It is the power that art has to stimulate, motivate, inspire and move. When I shoot, I try to create worlds and dreams… a sense of fantasy and drama that you can normally only find in fiction which hopefully inspires others to pursue dreams of their own.

    And beyond the actual images I create, there is the journey that I share. That is the purpose of the Behind the Scenes… to inspire those around to create adventures of their own.

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    When I originally began doing the Behind the Scene stuff, I had looked at it from a marketing perspective – Having BTS meant that potential clients could get a sneak preview at who I was and what I was capable of doing. It also meant that for each photoshoot I did, I would be able to reach a larger target audience. Along the way though, the videos and blog posts developed into so much more.

    Suddenly I had people looking up to me, waiting for the next crazy idea that would pop into my head. I couldn’t deliver sub-par work anymore, each time I had to improve… I had to come up with something new. And when I didn’t, fans would call me out on it.

    The need to educate others through my blog posts also meant that I had to continuously learn and master more and more material; in other words, I had an insatiable source of motivation: The Internet.

    While it can become exhausting at time, I welcome the pressure because it pushes me to innovate constantly and to challenge myself to become better at what I do.

    And beyond my Asian need to always better myself, the occasional fan message, comment or email that tells me: “you made a difference in my life” is the greatest compliment that I could ever ask for.

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    I know that I am blessed – having a great family and a solid education means that I have a lot of perks that have allowed me the possibility of pursuing my passion with such focus and dedication.

    It is true that without those two, I would never have been able to be where I am today… but I think that had I been without these advantages, I would have still found a way.

    Saying that “I can’t because…” is simply opening up the door for an innumerable number of excuses to never even try. Whatever your life situation is, I encourage you to remember what your dreams are and to work towards them with purpose. A new year is on the horizon filled with endless opportunity.

    Yes, hard times are ahead, but without them… the good times wouldn’t be as sweet.

    And if, for whatever reason, you still don’t know what you want… don’t stop looking. Get off your ass, stop playing video games and watching TV and look for new experiences that will challenge the way you think.

    Santa Monica Beach Art: woke up at 5AM, climbed a rollercoaster.

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    So for 2013, rather than bore you with my insane plans for the future, here are some words of wisdom from the internet. I highly recommend you watch each one of them! They’re awesome.







  • http://www.facebook.com/BrasenSoul Brasen Seraphix

    Made it to the end.. Must admit you inspire me to follow dreams and perhaps some can come true.

    Have a good year, and i hope we’ll be able to follow your future endeavours…

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      :D – Thanks man! So far the plans are to keep being public so…definitely :)

  • http://johnvicory.com John Vicory

    It was nice to meet you when you came to Seattle, Ben. You are truly an inspiration for working hard and persevering. All the best for 2013!

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      great meeting you too! remember, if you come to Montreal I owe you a beer :)

  • Rey

    awesome post Ben !! very motivational and so true !!! Wishing you even more memories for 2013 and you must come to South Africa !

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      I went in December 2011!! Next time ! :)

  • http://www.Loreliphoto.com Lore-Li

    Happy New Year’s Ben! I wish you the best in 2013, and look forward to seeing where your creativity takes you!

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      Thanks and to you too :)

  • http://heathhurwitz.com Heath Hurwitz

    Thanks for the Inspiration.

  • http://www.Travelwhimsy.com Travelwhimsy

    Awesome! I discovered your work via Ning Wong and have really enjoyed your videos and tutorials. Thank you for sharing your talent and passion with us. Wishing you an even more epic 2013!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JerrBerr Jerry Chen

    Read the whole thing! :D Happy New Year BEN! I look forward to see what awesome epicness you come up with next. I hope this year I can meet you in person help you out with a shoot!

  • http://www.gfphoto.co.uk George

    Thank you for this! I watched every one of these videos on my build up to the new year with my wife and kid out visiting family. I have never felt more motivated and inspired in all my life. 2013 better watch out, cause I am coming! :D

  • Crisc0

    Ain’t watching the videos. Still posting. Sue me.

  • Yann

    Very good post Ben, I love your “2012″ pic, but I am not sure it does justice to your work and effort ;)
    Happy new year from Down Under!

  • http://www.alliebee.ca Allison – Alliebee Henna

    What a great post Ben! It’s been awesome to see how you’ve progressed over the last year, from the first shoot I was part of until now. You’re awesome! You’ve inspired so many people, including me, to follow their dreams. Hope to see you soon and collaborate loads more this year :)

  • http://www.kevinfoster.co Kevin Foter

    Thank you for this post! Pulling myself out of a rut and this seriously helped! Can’t wait to see what where you go in 2013! Keep it up and Happy New Year!!

  • http://www.kevinfoster.co Kevin Foter

    and YES I made it to the end and watched every video! I now have a new youtube playlist with these vids!

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      they’re totally worth it!

  • http://www.richardterborg.com Richard Terborg

    Made it! hahaha its good to reflect. You should reflect more often ;) maybe every end of the year?
    In the small time space we spend together you gave me inspiration to keep me going for atleast another year! so ill need you here again in 2013 for the next fix :P Thanks for everything last year. Ill be right here if you ever need me :)

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      sounds like a great plan :) High five mate

  • http://matthewkunce.wordpress.com Matthew Kunce

    I always read the whole thing! I love your posts and your BTS videos. Your work and your story is inspiring in so many ways. I have a list of photographers that I want to meet someday and you are on that list. Can’t wait to see what you do in 2013.

    • http://www.vonwong.com Ben

      Great stuff man, it’s a small world you never know :) Which part of the world are you in !

    • http://matthewkunce.wordpress.com Matthew Kunce

      That would be fantastic. I live in Billings Montana so if you are ever down this way let me know. :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/renaudguerinphotosandco Renaud

    Je te souhaite une joyeuse année 2013 Ben! Qu’elle soit pleine de beaux projets, de belles rencontres, de voyages et d’aventures, et surtout que tu continues à nous faire vibrer avec ton imagination et ton énergie!
    En 2012, j’ai ressenti comme un coup de mou photographique, du doute, de la paresse aussi parfois. Et puis j’ai découvert ton travail :) Je dois dire que ça m’a regonflé à bloc et ça m’a donné un bon “coup de pied au c**” pour me bouger et me dire que toute expérience / idée / envie de shoot mérite d’être menée à bout, même si le résultat n’est pas toujours celui qu’on espère! Donc merci encore et peut-être à un de ces jours, si tu passes dans le sud-est de la France.

  • Virginie Ivy

    I followed your work for the last 2-3 years and it’s so inspirational to watch you go out there, travel, meet people and do these awesome projects with them. I already told you on the phone -and that felt pretty akward after-, I’m a fan of your awesome work. I wish you an awesomely creative 2013! Keep up the good work Ben!

  • https://www.facebook.com/londonlightphotography-londonlightphotography.com Syd

    You ROCK! You inspire me to want to be a better photographer! Your heart is on fire and you inspire me to want to be an all around better person. :) Thank you for sharing your passion!

  • http://regismatthey.wordpress.com Rgs_

    Continue de suivre tes rêves Ben, et de nous inspirer autant. Et si un jour tu passes en Suisse…

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