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