Montreal-based photographer Benjamin Von Wong is known for his complex productions and very stunning powerful images.
He has a track record of using drama in his photographs, turning models into seemingly otherworldly creatures that can make the viewer’s jaw drop in an instant.
It really shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that he successfully managed an amazing and incredibly difficult underwater photoshoot.
Yet the results are completely out of this world.
On his blog, Von Wong claimed that he had been dreaming of doing another underwater shoot since his first one, but wanted to take it to a completely different level.
Instead of shooting in a pool, he planned to take photos in a shipwreck. He was by no means a trained diver and didn’t have a dive certification, but he felt he was a strong enough swimmer and had enough underwater photography experience to make the production work.
So, while on a vacation in Bali, he picked out a crew of experienced divers, underwater photographers, and free divers and set up a photoshoot 25 meters under the ocean in an old sunken shipwreck off the coast.
Even before you know about all the intricate and crucial details that went into the shoot, you have to admit that the photos themselves are incredibly impressive.
The gorgeous ocean scenes are whimsical, even haunting, the beautiful models draped in flowery white dresses as they pose in a stunning underwater landscape. The decaying ruins and floating, light-weight poses make the scene look otherworldly, the women like sea goddesses in a craggy, fantastical ocean terrain.
From just a glance at the spectacular photos, you may already be pointing your finger and denouncing Photoshop. However, that’s not the case. Aside from the typical post-production retouching, there was no photoshopping involved.
The women really were posing underwater.
The models were required to be experienced freedivers, with plenty of practice and knowledge of diving without oxygen tanks. They weren’t just any average models, but knew what they were doing under the ocean, able to hold their breath for about 3-4 minutes at a time. They posed on site, underwater, and within the old ship wreck, donning dresses graciously provided by designer Ali Charisma.
Von Wong made sure to find the perfect team of people to assist him on the photo shoot. He stressed that teamwork was one of the important factors, stating, “Assembling a competent team is critical to the success or failure of most shoots and this time was no exception…Normal assistants wouldn’t work, specially trained safety divers were going to be necessary to ensure a smooth photoshoot.”
He reached out to his many connections in the community and managed to compile a fantastic team of people. Instead of photo assistants, he had trained safety divers who provided the freediver models with breaths of air from oxygen tanks.
Being under water, he also couldn’t use studio luxuries like lighting. Instead he had to rely on camera strobes and natural lighting. To produce the amazing poses, the models were tied down to the shipwreck. This daring decision meant that any minor miscommunication could have resulted in disaster.
Yet, despite the obstacles and dangers, the shoot seemed to turn out as great as planned. The end results are stunning, and there are several neat behind the scene photos as well. Additionally, Von Wong filmed a video where he goes into detail about his shoot for those who want to learn more about the impressive production.