The Glamorous life of Ben Von Wong

By on April 16, 2013

Friend and fellow blogger Jen Brook told me earlier today that I should really spend some time to write more about the life behind the scenes of the crazy insane character known as “Von Wong”. After much deliberation, I figured that sharing a little more about the person behind the character could be interesting to remind everyone out there that I am… still human and that there are very real ups, downs and struggles associated with the glamorous life I have chosen to live. I am not certain what will come up of this, but now… on my 11 hour flight between London and Vancouver, it seems like a pretty good idea to spend a bit of time in introspection so here goes.

2013 04 14 15 46 09 Catching a moment of rest at the end of my mass photoshoot with 450 people in Traunstein Germany in collaboration with KameraKind.

I left Montreal on the 11th of March, 2013. So far (today being the 16th of April) I’ve visited 5 countries, 8 cities (Vegas,London, Manchester, Paris, Namur, Munich and Traunstein) slept in 4 hotels, 1 train, 1 bar, 3 houses, an airport as well as a cute little bed & breakfast. In that time I’ve had 12 photoshoots, 2 of which were commercial and one of which was a workshop with Train to Create. I’ve given two conferences, attended a trade show, an awards ceremony in London and done 4 interviews that are floating around on the interwebs. I’ve also managed to find time to write and upload four BTS videos and blog posts as well as a single guest post with another one lined up for tomorrow.

Yesterday, I went from Traunstein to Munich by car to take a plane from Munich to London, to take a 2 hour nap in London before an interview at 4:30 AM by WEX TV in my “natural habitat – the airport”, to catch a plane to Vancouver to give a conference at Canadian Imaging tomorrow in front of god knows how many people to then give a workshop in a Ghost Town close to Kelowna, BC over the weekend with another conference on Monday in Vancouver… and finally a last one coming up in Detroit on the 27th.

VonWongCover

Throughout this journey, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out and meet internet celebrities like Peter Hurley, Kirsty Mitchell, Zemotion, the Fstoppers crews, Aaron Nace @ Phlearn, Renee Robyn, Brooke Shaden, Joel Robison, Rob Woodcox… and even had the chance to chill with the amazing team from Nikon Canada, and put faces onto companies that have supported me in one way or another like Vistek, SmugMug, Adobe, Lowepro, Undfind, SLRLounge, TetherTools, Triple Scoop Music, Think Tank, Lensbaby, and more.

VON 3191 Goofing off on a wraparound suite at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas with Kirsty Mitchell and Renee Robyn

Las vegas craigslist | create posting 1
And being a general goofball after Kirsty left her toothbrush in the hotel room…No, it’s not really for sale in case you were wondering!

So what’s it like?

Well, in a word : Exhausting. Looking back, I can hardly believe how much I’ve gone through and its hard to believe that only a month has passed. At the same time, it’s extremely gratifying knowing that I’ve really lived this last month to it’s fullest.

Why do I do I work at such a hectic pace? Why not slow it down?

What I love about travelling is that you will ALWAYS make the most use of your time. Even those couple hours of sleep become priceless because you know you’ll be moving on soon to the next place.

When I landed in London, I hadn’t yet bought any tickets to France, Belgium or Germany because I didn’t know what my schedule was going to be like… so when Barry Van Elder spontaneously offered to organize a shoot in Manchester that would involve 3 million dollars of sports cars, an old manor and pyro I found time to go up and shoot, making great friends in the process and visiting a new city.

Ultima GTR on fire with latex von wong
- yes yes, I promise there will be a BTS video…

When I landed a couple days later in Paris, France, my pyrotechnician DAS had lined up 3-4 different photoshoots involving a TV station, The louvre as well as a Tesla Coil.

2013 04 06 01 21 12

From there it was off to Belgium to play with fire and a Abbey in ruins …

VON 6432 Group shot of the entire crew in Belgium (fans and friends and more)… produced by Monolithe Photographe</p>

back to Paris to pick up a cape designed for me by Virginie Marcerou…

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To then hope into an 11 hour train ride to Traunstein Germany to help set up the 450 mass “where is waldo” photoshoot.

Traunstein  VonWong
That’s right. We got Batman and Robin in on the action.

That’s insane. How do you do it?

You just do. I find that if you think too much about how incredulous and impossible it all sounds you simply miss out and give up. While I was on my way from Paris to Munich I found myself sitting on the floor between two train cars next to the toilets with my laptop plugged in and my butt propped on the cold metal floor so that I could prep last weeks blog post.

Finder 10

Some of you may recall a blog post I wrote earlier this year titled”Thinking of quitting your job, think again ” and I suppose that you could quite simply say that I’m in the “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” stage of things. I have no doubts that returning back to reality in 3 weeks (though to be honest, I’m not even sure what that reality is) I’ll suffer from productivity withdrawal.

It’s kinda funny but I’m kinda looking forward to those little moments of emotional depression so that my body can rest, recover and prepare for the next big thing (hopefully the release of my Game of Thrones project).

I think that with the ups come the inevitable downs but it’s a price that I’m willing to pay. Too often, I get emails from fans and friends telling me how jealous they are of what I’m doing… but these things only happen because I work extremely hard to get there. I’m a believer of hard work… not talent, and I think that if you want something bad enough, you’ll make it.

VON 5244 Edit

I don’t watch TV when I’m in the plane – I catch up on sleep, spend time preparing for my upcoming conference, writing a blog and editing photos. I wake up in a new place every 3 days, make friends that I never know when I’ll see again, and expect to be depressed when the adventure slows down. My body is taking a beating and the concept of jetlag doesn’t even exist to me anymore. I answer every single fan mail I receive personally and I do what I do because I feel like I’m making a difference. I’d like to be famous before 30, but as fame happens to be quite a vague word, the tangible goal is to make a meaningful and viral-worthy TED talks.

I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’m certainly working to get to it. Even if the end goal changes, the journey is the reward and there is nothing more gratifying than working towards something you believe in.

  • Leo

    Well, everything is said. Hard work always win. Work harder than others, and work when they sleep. You will have eternity to take a rest :-P Ben, you made a choice, you have to live it fully. Every thing you do when you’re sharing your knowledge, giving the best of you with all your heart, it will come back to you. Im proud of you, and if we meet each other, one day, i’ll say you that “les yeux dans les yeux” cause you really deserve it! Keep up the good work dude! Jump and shoot, shoot and jump, but never give up ! :-P

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Thanks mate :) Small world I’m sure we’ll meet sooner or later!

  • Matrox

    Von Wong, you are a truly inspiring man. You don’t waste your time grumbling – you are constantly DOING things. Things that matter for you. Things you love. That makes you a special person with amazing photographic skills. Believe me or not, but you’re gonna be the most influential photographer in the world within only few years!

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      I grumble but silently hehe! Thanks!! We’ll see what the future brings!

  • Björn Lubetzki

    About the getting famous part, if you would stop some place long enough, you would see that you already are. You’re an inspiration to so many people, myself definitely included.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      haha, if I stop someplace long enough and feel too famous it’s probably a good sign to move again :) Glad I inspire and thanks for following <3

  • Crisc0

    I was most impressed by that Tesla coil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515969142 Jonathan Perlman

    Ben, you realize that there’s a TEDx conference being held at Dawson College on May 25th. http://www.tedxdawsoncollege.com/

    If they aren’t taking more speakers, you can at least be at one live.

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      TEDx isn’t the same XD it doesn’t count!
      maybe i could try for it though ! why not

  • Pilar

    Ben (May I call you Ben? lol)… Anyway… you work really hard, that’s true, and believe me, I don’t want your life… well, maybe yes but only because I want to be famous too before 30 and I’m closer than you haha.

    The point is you love what you do, you inspire a lot of people, photographers like me or not, and you’re a fighter. I’m impressed and proud of that, even if we don’t know each other, it doesn’t matter to me…

    For work, for take a rest or for die, you have a place to crash in Madrid

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Thank you so much for your kind words pilar :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandra.apple Alexandra Apple

    i read this once and it makes alot of sense wen ppl say they are “jealous” ..:
    “don’t compare your behind the scenes to my highlight reel”
    very true :)

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      I love my life anyways :) but I don’t think its for everyone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.n.laura Anthony Phung

    You bad ass Asian, hopefully one day I can join you to do more. You back in town on May 2nd to join my opening? I have sushi? :D

  • http://twitter.com/mwesselphoto Michael Wessel

    Hehe, fame is such a nebulous concept. Know that you’re an inspiration to many (myself included) and that the ripples you make in the creative community are as long lasting as any famous persons. Not like the reality stars fame though, because that’s just worthless, and the rock they drop into the pond hits like a piece of styrofoam.

  • http://twitter.com/Stylus_DJ Alex Mentzel

    Ben, You are a massive inspiration to me and I read every post with great interest and total respect. Your imagery is awesome, keep up the good work! :)

  • Linda

    i just hope that people like you will not be extinct. so inspiring and humble. you deserve all the goodness, ben!

    • http://www.vonwong.com/ Benjamin Von Wong

      Thanks Linda.. !! *blush*

  • vipmig

    I was like you at your age but I wasn’t doing what I wanted so I had to stop or die,I did stop now I’m trying to be photographer but I’m doing it slowly,like sharpening perfect sword.

  • http://www.brutalsun.com/ Brutal Sun

    “I’m a believer of hard work… not talent, and I think that if you want something bad enough, you’ll make it.”

    I’m so sticking that on my studio wall.

    P.S. Just stumbled across your work for the first time. It’s amazing.

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