Exclusive Interview with Photographer Benjamin Von Wong

“My skill is pulling people together and getting them to believe we can make something amazing happen.”

Radical Illusionist

Benjamin Von Wong
San Francisco, CA

Illusions of grandeur.

I always knew I wanted to be different—to do something cool and meaningful. After university, I took a job as a mining engineer in Nevada. Boredom and a break-up drove me to find a hobby, so I picked up a cheap camera at Walmart and took photos of the stars. Soon I was doing events and photo shoots in my spare time. One day I woke up and realized I had 7K Facebook followers, one too many jobs, and the opportunity to make a real impact (and a living) doing work I’m passionate about.

An intro to interactivism.

SmugMug has become an essential tool, like Lightroom or Photoshop, in my workflow. Behind-the-scenes videos of me working became a thing when I realized that my photographs got so many more views and interactions with a video to support them. I’m constantly adding new images to my site, and photographers who come along on shoots are empowered to upload behind-the-scenes images into user-generated galleries. As of today, I have over 9.2M image views. A recent video project raised $2M for a charitable cause. As much as I’m a photographer, I’m an entertainer, videographer, visual engineer, and social-media content creator, trying to create something surreal, magnificent, epic—and in the end, meaningful.

Benjamin Von Wong, untitled.

No title seems to fit me, so I use SmugMug to help explain what I do. I can open the SmugMug app on my phone and show my work on a plane, in a bar, wherever I meet someone. I love the reaction I get when I tell people my work is real, not Photoshopped or shot on a green screen. I love that initial doubt. Those conversations spark creativity. People say, “Have you thought of shooting here, or tried this?”

For the love, craft, or business of it, we’ve got a plan for you.

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