Having a fear of heights is pretty common — indeed, 7.5% of human people have the fear and we totally get it. I mean, who hasn’t felt that jelly-leg feeling when looking out the window of a tall building? As humans, we’re naturally fearful of things that make us feel threatened or as if we’re in danger — and there totally is something about being up high that just makes us feel like things are scary.
Well one of our very favorite super-adventurous photographers, Benjamin Von Wong, convinced a group of regular people to allow him to photograph them as they stood on the ledge of a skyscraper overlooking San Francisco. He recruited a handful of SmugMug employees who had to overcome their primal fear of heights to make the photos work. Von Wong didn’t want to use a green screen or cheesy special effects — he wanted to capture the fearlessness of regular people. The whole idea of the project being to turn ordinary people into superheroes. And that’s exactly what he did.
This real people turned super-human is obviously a theme Von Wong is into. We previously covered a shoot of his that turned real-people into mega-incredible athletes.
On his website, he explains his inspiration for this fear of heights shoot:
“As we get older, we stop dreaming. We stop believing that anything is possible because we’ve seen too much of what isn’t. And that is why I wanted to photograph ordinary people as superheroes — so that they could see themselves as they had once dreamed.
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. My job was to convince them to inch closer and closer to the opposite direction of safety — straight towards the edge of a 1000 foot drop. In the photo, it makes all the difference.”
Von Wong and his team rigged a heavy-duty triple riser steel boom stand (like a selfie stick, but way more high-tech) with a camera, which they were able to control wirelessly to achieve the vertigo-inducing effect they were going for.
Even though the models wore safety harnesses, standing on the ledge of a building is still serious business. In fact, we have anxiety just looking at the pictures, and we’re not currently standing on the ledge of anything. The willingness of the models to be as brave as this shoot required is inspiring, and we feel super proud of all of them.
Von Wong explains:
“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.”
Check out the photos that are just as beautiful as the story behind them and check out the rest of the images on Von Wong’s site: