Last year, I stood on a stage offering to help anyone make a difference in the world. I was approached with a question:

Can you recognize Hunger?

I thought I could, until I had a conversation with the folks from the Second Harvest Food Bank. They told me that in the heart of Silicon Valley which houses dozens of billionaires – 1 in 3 children struggle with hunger.

    It gets worse.

When summer vacation comes, those same kids are left without access to free/reduced meal programs from school.

Unfortunately, sob stories and sad photographs don’t really do well on social media, so we wanted to try a different approach. We decided to do a photoshoot that would highlight kids as heroes, on an epic quest to get food.

For these kids, getting access to a regular breakfast becomes Mission Impossible.


Dax Slate attempts the impossible: To steal some bacon from right under the nose of a few cooks. Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO80, 16mm, f/4, 1/50 with Broncolor

There was only one iconic scene that came to mind when I thought of an impossible mission – That of Tom Cruise dangling from the ceiling.

Suspending a kid from the cafeteria in Martha’s Kitchen wasn’t going to be possible, so we came up with a DIY solution instead featuring two strong men, a long metal pole and some galvanized cable.

Makeup artist Lien Delong teamed up with costume designer Jennifer Gonsalves and armor creator Posh Fairytale Couture to transform our ordinary kids into bite-sized heroes.

Sometimes they have no choice but to embark on treacherous climbs or dumpster dives, just to get access to fresh produce.


Damian Fierro scales the side of a commercial freezer in search of some fresh produce. Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35 mm | ISO250, 16mm, f/5, 1/80 with Broncolor

The most intrepid climbers to me are those who try to tackle Everest, so we decided to recreate the same by having Damian scale the side of Second Harvest’s very own commercial freezer.

Safety first though, meant that Damian was actually sitting on someone’s head rather than climbing, while I hung my camera precariously over the edge.

Every trip to the grocery store suddenly becomes a battle between an empty stomach and an empty wallet.


Rory Chronister intrepidly charges through a grocery store, protecting her spoils of war. Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO50, 16mm, f/4.5, 1/4″ with Broncolor

Knights ride horses to battle. Arteaga’s didn’t seem too keen on horses in their grocery store, so we opted instead for a shopping cart.

To create our motion blur, we needed a narrow beam of light capable of hitting Rory without affecting the surrounding environment. We accomplished that by taping magazines and newspapers to our Broncolor Beauty Box.

Once that was done, Asa our heroic volunteer could then push the cart steadily back and forth at the exact same speed as my camera to capture the perfect charge.

And discovering a snack in the pantry is like unearthing buried treasure.


Kiersten Royce Baloto discovering some fresh new snacks in a playground. Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO50, 16mm, f/4.5, 1/4″ with Broncolor

In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, jungles were in short supply. Thankfully, all it took was a few borrowed plants from Orchard Supply Hardware Store to create our own.

The plants were then placed strategically to hide the playground while a small LED light panel was placed directly under Kiersten’s excited face.

It shouldn’t be this hard to get food. Especially not for kids.


Maliah Bargas-Good guarding her treasures. Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO50, 16mm, f/4.5, 1/4″ with Broncolor

Of course, words can only describe so much.

This Behind the Scenes video of our project by Valentina Vee, however, tells the story far better than I ever could.

First world child hunger is a real problem, but there are people fighting so that children don’t have to.

The Second Harvest Food Bank is one of those groups, delivering over a million healthy meals every single week. All year round.

We’ve all experienced how much it sucks when hunger hits and there’s no food to be had. Imagine growing up and having to live with that experience every single day.

Someone you know is probably living through that very struggle.

To help spread the word, we’ve created a series of memes that you can share for free.

Here are a few of them:

triptych_secondharvest-1.jpg

Last but not least, if you want to support the amazing work that the Second Harvest Food Bank is doing, you can click here to donate. With only a 50 cent donation, Second Harvest can deliver a meal to a child in need.

Thank you for sharing this story and joining us in the fight against first world child hunger.

Media Requests

  • Feel free to quote and publish the photos on your online publication (please credit & link back to the original post). High-rez press images, BTS and more can be found in this dropbox link.
  • Commercial requests and rights: suzy@suzyjohnston.com
  • Interview requests: ben@vonwong.com

Announcements

Credits:

  • Photography: Von Wong
  • Video: Valentina Vee
  • Producer & Second Harvest Evangelist: Alisa Tantraphol
  • Models: Dax Slate, Damian Fierro, Maliah Bargas-Good, Rory Chronister, Kiersten Royce Baloto
  • Stylist: Jennifer Gonsalves
  • Makeup: Lien Delong
  • Armor: Posh Fairytale Couture
  • Assistants: Asa Mathat, Colin Liepmann, Ian Tseng, Elena Will, Philip Puma, Syd Indman, Miyuki Hara, Rama Sivamani, Kerry Jones
  • Special thanks: Martha’s Kitchen, Arteaga’s Food Center, Sacred Heart Nativity School, Second harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties
  • Sponsored by Lise Buyer

MORE AWESOMENESS:

  • Pingback: Ben Von Wong tackles First World child hunger in compelling fantasy photo series - DIY Photography()

  • Hayley Kotzur

    Ignore the bad comments. What you’re doing is the greatest and best you can to advocate and put awareness out for this situation. You’re talented and a hero.

  • Niklas S

    As always just inspirational work!

  • Brittany Long

    This is such amazing work Von Wong. You address some major issues in the most captivating way. Congratulations!

  • Thomas Stewart Johnstone

    You really bring attention to issues in such a great way that gets people’s attention. You could post pictures of hungry kids, but that is easy to ignore, this isn’t as it catches our eye. Great work

  • Cédric Mayence

    awesome campaign, well done Ben

  • Marko Bolić

    thumbs up

  • Bartosz Mielnikow

    Such an important campaign! We often forget how big issue it is. You’re doing amazing job.

  • Ariadna Marquez Acosta Klynsmi

    Amazing campaign, yet again raising awareness on a very important issue.
    Great work from all the people involved!
    Love the creativity on getting the images. Von Wong, your work is amazing, and the fact that you use your skill to support such amazing projects makes it even greater. You truly inspire me. Thank you for sharing your work with the world.

  • Vishnu Swaroop

    darn good shots!! hope I can click like them one day 🙂

  • Brian De Rivera Simon

    Always refreshing to see new projects from you Ben! You’re starting positive ripples you don’t even know about!

  • Isabelle Criado

    Your photos are always beautiful but what I love most is the meaning behind them: they tell a story embrace a cause. It’s amazing. The concept for these ones is spot on: very touching.

  • Sascha Würth

    awesome awesome awesome! your so inspiring!!!

  • your images are so mesmerizing and communicate a lot… keep rocking the world, man

  • Xiaofei Zhang

    great work!!!!

    id love to see some settings

  • Domenico Stragliotto

    That’s an awesome work!

  • Heulwyn Roberts

    Always love watching what you come up with next

  • NELSON M

    Dope project as always, I would to be a part of the next one.
    http://www.nelsonmolinajr.com

  • Sereykosarak Vudh

    this is awesome!

  • Ricardo Uribe

    Great campaign

  • Jens ThePunkt

    Another work of you that helps change the World a bit to the better. Love the photographs

  • Elisa Davis Guthrie

    Awesome cause, I work for a group home and we deal with Second Harvest for our kids. Wonderful program.

  • Arnoldo De Leon

    If we all did a lil we could end child hunger

  • You’re doing amazing work, Ben.

  • Tmak

    Amazing work, love your creativity

  • Martin Beetschen

    True purpose ! Beautiful art

  • Npaus Baim Isabelle Her

    They look like heroes saving world hunger <3

  • Samy Chamkhi

    i love your work *-*

  • Theo Brouwers

    Keep up the good work!!!
    Respect from The Netherlands!!!

  • Thank you for sharing your inspirational work again! 🙂

  • Vialdo destiano

    i hope this campaign can be reached to everybody

  • Nicolas Jude Wieland

    This campaign is absolutely inspirational. As a student at UCLA who wants to make a dent in child hunger it makes me so happy to see that artists want to contribute to causes like this. Super pumped to see how far this will go!!

  • Kenneth Kao

    Love to work with you someday. Pretty much everything you do earns even deeper respect from me. I know you’re overwhelmed with requests, probably, but if you ever want to shoot in the catacombs, for instance… http://www.poleninjaphotography.com/marlo-fisken/86687ziy6f5w10399sb2t5xns2sg2f

  • William Leong

    Please keep up the awesome work. Changing the world, one snap at a time.

  • Loïc AMBROSINI

    I love your work, hope you’ll come for a workshop in France soon 😛

  • Aman Sandilya

    I was not aware of such an issue at all. Your work does an incredible job of spreading awareness about something so rampant yet unknown. 🙂

  • Ian

    wow… just great work von!!

  • Markus A. Walter

    I love your work. Getting involved in a cause like this is just awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll be right there, cheering you on.

  • Dima Shapira

    Love your work. It inspire and help many people!

  • Rich Allela

    Creative solutions to world problems. Absolutely inspiring Von Wong. Learning a lot from you on how to use my skills to make the world a better place.

  • C. A. Bridges

    Loving this.

  • Shane Collins

    I really admire your creative problem solving skills. I’ve always felt like that is one of the top skills any photographer needs. There will always be problems on a set that need to be overcome, and finding creative solutions is crazy important to getting the outcome you’re looking for!

  • Ireek Moose

    Epic photos as always :D!!

  • Adin Softic

    Thenk you for your great work!

  • Shelly Hanson

    Very imaginative!

  • Sergio Rubio Ocaña

    Congratulations again. You inspiring the people to make a better world.

  • Eleni Nikolaou

    ❤❤❤

  • Ashley Marie Marino

    I love how you can turn something so important that other people tend to ignore into something that catches someone’s attention to raise awareness. Great job Ben 🙂

  • Goran Mijailović

    Amazing photos as always!

  • Lourdes Morales

    This is amazing. More then happy to see there are people who still care and actually put things into action to help out those in need or whatever the situation is. Thank you!

  • Michael Chee

    Love the climbing photos!

  • eddy beh

    Amazing initiative. When first world countries have such a problem, what more the rest that are not.

  • Alma Grajeda

    Beautiful work!! You’re so talented

  • Cole

    Keep up the good work!

  • Val Garza

    Your images continue to inspire me! We do shoots and take photos everyday but it’s rare they hold meaning or stand for something which is exactly what your art has been doing! Thank you for being a great person and helping others see what is ignored!

  • Joyce Pafford

    Love your work. you inspire so many

  • mpingu

    Amazing Work. Such greate Idea!

  • Gohar Nazir

    Amazing work

  • Kim Hsin

    Great initiative! All the best Ben!

  • fenriquez

    I follow you for your work, and stay for your creativity. Awesome once again.

  • David Scott

    Beautiful photos, I hope you continue your inspiring work! Thank you for your efforts in raising awareness 🙂

  • Juan Quevedo

    Cada proyecto nuevo es más asombroso que el anterior, muchos éxitos!!

  • Anthony

    Always love the stuff that you’re making! It’s more than photographs, you’re actually trying to make things happen through them. Good luck!!

  • Beautiful project! Congrats!

  • Juan Manuel Espidio

    Amazing Job Benjamin.

  • dennis vandermeersch

    “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ”
    ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • Tracy Nicole Greer

    Always inspired and in awe of your work. You are touching the heart of so many important causes and I believe you are making a real difference. Keep it up!

  • Chelsea

    Such gorgeous work and an example of the beauty humanity can create by helping others.

  • Lori Horn

    Love that your work is not only amazing and also addresses real issues! thanks for helping people become more aware!

  • Bob Xiong

    Whoa neat!

  • Anna Sink

    Such a wonderful and powerful message. To bring awareness through beautiful visuals, I am in awe. I am a forever fan!!!!

  • Misha Tsai

    Your work is beyond inspirational and it never ceases to amaze.
    I’m only just starting in my career making clothes and costumes, but it would be amazing if I had the opportunity to work with you one day!

  • Carlos Gouveia

    as Ben would say… Epic! 🙂

  • Byron Jackson

    The quality images speak for themselves, many before me have stated that so one more glowing review really won’t change a whole lot. But what I also want to say is that its rare to see someone with so much talent and energy do so much for the benefit of others less fortunate than themselves and that is truly inspiring. Thankyou.

  • Christopher D. Nguyen

    Beautifully captured!!

  • Lerod Calanoc

    So inspiring.
    I love the concept.

  • Eric shih

    Your work is always inspirational. Not only technically amazing, but also unique and approachable

  • Well done! I love your work!

  • Tina Tran Nguyen

    Stunning!!

  • Jonathan

    Well done!

  • Rachel Ambriz-Willis

    Your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Great job.

  • Andy Sankovich

    amazing work truly stunning

  • Prenecia Parnell

    Thank you for sharing your talent in an exuberant way and using it to help this world!

  • <3 It!

  • Doug Chapin

    I love how you captured the child spirit

  • Parker Boyack

    Wow, very cool!

  • Bryan Troll

    great mix of documentary and creative work

  • Nebert

    This is amaising

  • Arki Clavel Pacheco

    Thats amazing

  • Garun

    You do it perfectly

  • Garun

    I love your work .you do it perfectly

  • Dionalyn Villamor

    This is just magnificent