When photographer Benjamin Von Wong was a kid, he wished that he could run on air and defy gravity. “As an adult,” he laments, “I began to realize that the laws of physics didn’t care much for my dreams. Unwilling to give up so easily, I found other ways to adapt—using my camera to bend reality and shift perspectives.” From stunning underwater photography to shocking fire portraits, Von Wong has continually wowed us throughout the years. His latest series, a collaboration with Nike, combines his love of awe-inspiring sights with an emphasis on social consciousness.
The project started when Von Wong received a “challenge” from Nike. They mailed him a pair of their Vapormax shoes with a card that simply read, “What would you do if you could walk on air?” The question was perfect for him. “After an intense brainstorming session and a restless night of sleep, I made a commitment to pitch ‘crazy’ rationalizing that if they were reaching out to me… it was probably not to do something conservative.” The final iteration of his idea involved people making gravity-defying leaps—sometimes 1,000 feet in the air—over tall buildings.
After Nike’s blessing, Von Wong and his crew had to figure how to make their vision a reality. This involved a lot of trial and error, which concluded by putting his models in a form-fitting harness with side-mounting points. The design allowed them to “run comfortably and not have straps dangling all over the place.”
Another component to Von Wong’s project was to shine a light on individuals in Manila, Philippines that were helping their communities in a positive way, particularly the young people in the city. His chosen subjects were all athletes in their own right, but in Von Wong’s portraits, they look like superheroes.
Von Wong’s epic images feature these five people standing tall as they leap off the sides of buildings; they appear fearless despite the steep drop beneath their feet. It’s an apt metaphor for these folks who work hard to enact positive change in the world around them. Von Wong sums it up best with “[It’s] everyday people pushing themselves to make a difference and inspire someone in their community.”
Learn more about Von Wong photo shoot’s in his detailed blog post and by watching his behind-the-scenes video below.
Photographer Benjamin Von Wong celebrates the everyday hero with his gravity-defying action photography.
Ian Banzon, a coach who battles the stereotype of a “fit girl” and promotes “Strong as the New Beautiful.
He turns those doing social good in the community of Manila, Philippines into superheros that can leap off buildings with ease.
Krizanne Ty and Nikka Arcilla, the founders of Girls Got Game, a sports camp empowering less fortunate young girls all over the Philippines.
Bryan McClelland, creator of Bambike, a bike that uses a sustainable bamboo bike.
Mike Swift, a rapper and creator of Picnic Games, a tournament bringing together local Filipino culture and basketball.