I never thought I’d find myself dangling off the edge of a cliff, in pouring rain, while sitting on a wheelchair.

Blue Mountain Adventure Company, our safety riggers wanted to test the rig out on someone that was able bodied first.

That someone, was me.

Testing out the rig to make sure it’s safe – Photo by Valentina Vee

It all started when we wanted to offer a complete stranger the opportunity to connect with her son.

Karen Alsop, a photoshop artist asked me to participate on the Heart Project, a community venture that used photography to inspire and help others. She wanted to know if I might be interested to participate in a friendly competition to tell the story of Sarah-Jane – a quadriplegic mother who was struggling to bond with her son after an accident.

After learning more about her,  I couldn’t refuse.

For her entire life, she had been a passionate explorer.

Not only was she a master rock climber and abseil instructor, she had biked the entirety of Australia in a figure eight. She was young, fearless and unstoppable and it was during one of these adventures that her son Hamish was born.

But a routine surgery gone wrong left Sarah-Jane (SJ) quadriplegic and unable to go on adventures.

The accident happened when Hamish was only 3 years old. His mother and hero was suddenly unable to take him to have the wonderful experiences he had gotten so used to.

We wanted to help bring some of those experiences back.

So we levitated her through the woods

With a little team of volunteers, we gathered up all our resources together to prepare SJ for an exciting day out.

Photo by Courtney Holmes

While I played guinea pig with the crew to make sure everything was safe

Since SJ was an experienced climber, we wanted to make sure all the pieces were as ready as possible before she arrived. Unfortunately for us, the weather was not cooperating – nevertheless, we persisted.

Me testing out the rig in the pouring rain with the BMAC crew – Photo by Valentina Vee

First we started by dangling her son, Hamish, off the edge all alone

Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO50, 35mm, f/5, 1/200 with Broncolor

Then, it was SJ’s turn

Lift Off!! – Photo by Valentina Vee

Followed by the lighting equipment and her son

Hanging off the edge with a two broncolor light set-up, Beauty dish in the front and reflector in the back

Before capturing a shot of the two of them, reunited in adventure.

Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO800, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/30 with Broncolor

The journey wasn’t over yet; Karen had a project up her sleeve too.

Except that she would use the magic of photoshop

Tunnel of Life by Karen Alsop – See how it was done: https://storyart.com.au/adventuremother/

To change reality for just a second

Leap of Faith by Karen Alsop – See how it was done: https://storyart.com.au/adventuremother/

Unfortunately for SJ, real life can’t just be “photoshopped” but she wants to keep fighting

And many more of the team not present…!

But this time in service of others – to improve accessibility for other mothers in her neighbourhood.

We’ve helped her start a GoFundMe.

Now it’s up to you.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. Happy Mother’s week!

Announcements:

  • At the end of this month, we’re launching a new project. It includes Kids, Armor and epic adventure! Here’s a teaser.
  • Do you live in Washington, DC? I’m there this week working on a conservation project. If you want to help out, send me a message!

Credits:

Photographers : Benjamin Von Wong & Karen Alsop
Producer : Adam Cubito
Safety: Blue Mountains Adventure Company
Video Producer/Videographer : Valentina Vee
HMA: Paris Ambrose
Technical liaison: Jake Anderson
Assistants: Don Rajadurai, Stuart Alsop, Brian Bird, Yvette Martinette, Nikki Miller, Karley Miller, Courtney Holmes
Additional thanks to: Glen Isla Luxury, Blue Mountains Accommodation, Woolworths & BWS Leura Cindy Chen at Adobe Australia

This shoot was sponsored by:

Adobe, EIZO, Kayell, Wacom, Canson, Tether Tools, Blue Mountains Adventure Company, Jake Anderson Photography

MORE AWESOMENESS:

  • Pingback: SJ’s Story – The Heart Project()

  • Pingback: Photographer shoots a paralyzed mom. Hanging off a cliff. With her son. In a wheelchair - DIY Photography()

  • BigKev

    Words fail me. Rarely have I seen such courage. Thanks for sharing SJ with us Ben.
    Cheers.

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    衣皇后,等你来!

  • Aurora

    Whoa! What an amazing gift to give to this mom and her son. This brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.

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