Von Wong Workshop

About a year ago, when I was still at school, studying professional photography, something happened that changed my perspective on what it means to be a photographer. As a Creative Cloud member, I receive monthly newsletters in my inbox from Adobe. Occasionally, there is a feature called Creative Voices in which a cutting-edge artist is introduced via a short documentary or interview. Last March, the artist introduced was Benjamin Von Wong. I dare you to watch this video and not be inspired...

There are a lot of photographers, both past and present, who inspire me. However, something about this young man from my hometown of Montreal really struck a chord. Not only is he ridiculously talented, but he exudes an aura of positivity that can only be described as magical. His infectious attitude and limitless imagination make you feel like anything is possible. To see more of his mind-blowing images and learn more about his philosophy, check out his website, Von Wong.

Last night, a dream came true. I had the privilege of participating in a Von Wong workshop and it was an experience I’ll never forget. He is rarely in Montreal, so when I found out about a month ago that he would be doing a free workshop as part of a Radio-Canada documentary, I jumped on the opportunity. 

The workshop took place at photographer Thierry Quenette’s studio and after a brief introduction and Q&A session, Ben walked us through his creative process in a very organic way as he and his assistant Jessika Chiasson adjusted the lighting on models Oli Scar and Clara Cloutier. While shooting, Ben gave us invaluable advice about the importance of good communication, focusing on and directing your models and involving everyone on your team in the creative process. Afterwards, he invited participants to take some shots of their own. With 25 participants in attendance, I was lucky to get a couple of shots!

Oli Scar

Oli Scar & Clara Cloutier

It was wonderful seeing Ben’s creative process firsthand and working with a supremely talented team of individuals, including gifted makeup artist Tamsen Rae, angelic artistic model Clara Cloutier and extraordinary fire performers Oli Scar and Richard Erno of Pyrometheus.

Once the studio portion of the workshop was wrapped up, we all went out into the chilly night air to try our hand at shooting pyrotechnics, guided by Ben, of course. This was my first experience shooting fire, so there was a lot of trial and error, but I still managed to get some shots that I am pleased with.

Richard Erno

Richard Erno

Oli Scar and Clara Cloutier

Oli Scar & Clara Cloutier

It’s such a great feeling when you meet somebody that you admire and they end up exceeding your expectations. Not only was this an incredible learning experience, but I can assure you that Ben is just as gracious, down-to-earth and kindhearted as he appears to be. In fact, when he found out that I and one of the other participants live in the same neighbourhood as him, he gave us both a ride home, even though he had to get up at 6am for Toronto the next morning. Incidentally, I still can’t get over the fact that this legend practically lives (when he’s in Montreal, that is) in my backyard! I am so grateful for this experience and sincerely hope that I will have the opportunity to attend another workshop or assist Benjamin Von Wong in the future.