Not everybody springs for the higher donation brackets on sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, but doing so in this case can yield you a personal portrait shoot with a photographer like Benjamin Von Wong, who hopped in on a GoFundMe project that was raising funds for Eliza O’Neill, a little girl with a terminal degenerative brain disease. The fundraiser wound up going viral, and this maternity shoot between Von Wong and Eva Creel was underway.
The photographer and subject had actually met a while prior to the project, having both won a 500px competition and spent time together at Photokina in Germany, where Creel lives. The “maternity shoot” aspect of their session, however, was a bit unexpected—Creel wasn’t pregnant when she donated the $2,000 to the cause, and what’s more, Von Wong isn’t really a maternity shooter. In fact, this was his first session.
“[This shoot was] a contrast, between the life that Eva would be bringing into the world and the hope of life that Eliza was currently fighting for,” Von Wong wrote on his blog after the shoot, “something to infuse into our images—a beautiful blend of strength and hope against a backdrop of melancholy and darkness.”
This was a concept that Von Wong took in stride—after all, he’s most known for his rather epic, elaborate, often fantastical portrait shoots (as the photographer wrote in his Instagram bio, “I take photos that people think are Photoshopped.”) What better place for the shoot to take place than in Creel’s home base of Germany, just perfect for a fairtytale-themed shoot amid the country’s majestic castles, accompanied by wolfhounds and exotic owls.
Von Wong shot the session using his Mamiya Leaf Credo 80MP, alternating between his 28mm and 80mm Schneider Kreuznach lenses. The lighting gear consisted of a Broncolor Para 88 reflector and a Move 1200 L power pack, and the photographer used a friend’s e-cigarette as a smoke machine.
Go here for more details on the shoot from Von Wong, plus a look at the final shots with his exact exposure settings, and some behind-the-scenes photos.