One of the reasons I love being “Von Wong”, is that it allows me to meet passionate individuals that are living out their dreams.
Earlier this year I had the chance to document the life of an adventure photographer based out of Las Vegas by the name of Daniel Woods. He wanted me to help him create something that would capture who he was and what he did all in a single inspirational video.
Watch it full screen for some inspiration:
Though I didn’t have any video equipment with me at the time, I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I was at speaking at the ImagingUSA trade show at the time, and took the opportunity to reach out to Sony asking if they would be interested in sponsoring this inspirational video and within half a day, they got me a NEX-VG900, 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye, Zeiss 50mm F1.4, Sony 70-200mm F4 and a 5 foot Cinevate Slider.
Geared up and ready to go, our adventure began in Phoenix, Arizona with Monstro, Daniel’s mobile studio as we prepared for our road trip to Vegas.
During the 5 hour drive, I took the time to get to know Daniel inside and out – from his religion, to childhood, to family before finally talking about his work. I wanted to understand his motivations and aspirations so that I could start painting a picture in my minds eye on how best to portray this passionate artist.
As the conversations got deeper, a storyboard began to form in my mind – one that would focus not on what he did… but on why he did it. On what drives an individual to relentlessly pursue the intense lifestyle of an adventure photographer.
An average week for Daniel was to wake up at 5 AM, 3 times a week to set up and prepare 4-6 travel packs of canoes, paddles and photo gear, spending an entire 8 hour day guiding, trekking and paddling through canyons and ravines all the while taking pictures before reaching home to then dry off, reset all the gear, offload, cull and edit proofs for his clients so that they can view and select them before leaving the country.
While chatting with Daniel, I came to the realization that it would be very helpful to get an assistant to help me out. I remembered vaguely in the back of my mind that I had received a very enthusiastic fan mail from a fellow called Enrique Malfavon who lived out in Vegas so I decided to surprise him with a spontaneous phone call asking him if he wanted to tag along for a couple days of epic treks.
And just like that… the next afternoon, I found myself on an inflatable raft, with a fan that had messaged me over a year and a half ago, two amazingly motivated 50 year old ladies who had never done something so crazy in their lives, floating on a river reminiscent of a page straight out of the lord of the rings, with Daniel a man I had just met a week prior, singing opera to us.
Over the next two days, I found myself excitedly lugging 20 kgs of gear up and down Red Rock Canyon, running ahead of the group to frame my shots so I could capture them as they walked on past before chasing them again.
I’ve had friends and colleagues ask: Wait how did you manage to lug all that gear around AND film simultaneously? And the secret is those years of martial arts, rock climbing and parkour training… in addition to some nifty little clips from Peak Design to climb up and down hands free while keeping my cameras at the ready.
At the end of the day, what I truly wanted to do was create a video that not only would help Daniel in his passionate pursuit but that would inspire you guys out there to push through the challenges that you face in your own lives.
Because as Daniel eloquently said in the video: “Anything that’s worth anything has a little bit of pain.”
Special thanks to Sony for supporting this project. Much love 🙂
You may have noticed the subtle mention of my brand new Peak Design clips earlier in the post and for those of you who made it this far, I have some great news for you: I have one to give away.
Peak Design will be sponsoring a Professional Pack to one lucky photographer of their choice.
To participate, simply leave a comment down below on how this nifty device could help you in your workflow and what you thought of the video!
I’m giving a conference in South Carolina to raise money for a cure for a 4 year old child with a degenerative brain diseasein collaboration with Petapixel. If you can help, please give me a shout!
- 20% off SmugMug promo code VONWONG20 available!