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Photographer Explores Fear Through Superheroes and Heights

Curators’ Corner

Photographer Explores Fear Through Superheroes and Heights

Superheroes on Skyscrapers Harley Quinn

Not long ago, we featured Benjamin Von Wong’s fun series about office workers masquerading as ripped superstar athletes. The inspirational project generated a ton of positive energy about self-image; in particular how seemingly ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.

The project’s success spurred Von Wong to play around with a similar theme in his latest work. In Superheroes on Skyscrapers, Von Wong calls upon the same group of office workers he transformed into buff gym rats, but this time he dangles them off the edge of a San Francisco skyscraper dressed as superheroes.   Bold, crazy, wild and daring, Von Wong’s photographs elicit amazement at every turn.

Techies by day, superheroes by night best describe Von Wong’s fun-loving subjects, all of whom work for California-based photo sharing website SmugMug. While most IT nerds idolize superheroes, few can say they’ve actually donned the corresponding capes, robes, makeup and head gear of their favorite crusaders. For Von Wong, decking out SmugMug’s employees was just the start of the transformation. The hard part: How was he going to make them actually feel like superheroes?

By placing them on the edge of certain death?  That’s one way to do it.

Von Wong’s photographs feature Wolverine, Spiderman, Mystique, Hellgirl and The Hulk. The models are shot from a bird’s eye view and are portrayed in a state of rest or reflection. All models, although tethered, are perilously close to the building’s ledge. One glance at the cityscape below is enough to make the viewer’s heart race.

“I wanted to capture the fearlessness of superheroes – without a green screen or cheap special effects,” Von Wong writes on his website.

“To do this shoot, they (subjects) would have to face their fear of heights — a primal fear built into people. To be up on that ledge is absolutely terrifying. The wind is blowing so hard you think it’s going to knock you over. Every cell in your body is screaming at you to go back to safety.

“Seeing them challenge themselves and finding courage where they thought there was none was absolutely inspiring…It is not the lack of fear that makes a superhero a hero, but what they do in the face of fear that makes all the difference.”

Visit Ben Von Wong’s website to learn more about this project and his other works. Don’t forget to check out some behind the scenes photos from Superheroes on Skyscrapers while you’re there.

Superheroes on Skyscrapers Wolverine

Superheroes on Skyscrapers The Hulk

Superheroes on Skyscrapers DeadPool

Superheroes on Skyscrapers Mystic Laying Down

Superheroes on Skyscrapers Team photo

Photos courtesy of Benjamin Von Wong