Photographing Athletes Hanging from a Skyscraper

Benjamin Von Wong is never shy to accept a challenge, be it swimming with sharks several feet underwater or shooting in bad weather. So when Nike put the ball in his court, he was game:

The challenge? Suspend a subject 36 floors up a building face using a harness. To make matters more complicated, his subjects were everyday people—not acrobats or stunt people.

Von Wong’s master plan was to create a 20 foot scaffolding with a metal pole running down the middle and a rope attached to an electric car wench. He would then hang from the scaffolding and try out different harnesses. Not exactly the sort of credentials you need to be a photographer. By his own admission, it was painful.

epic photos of everyday athletes

For the models, this was going to be even more difficult. He had a doctor, a business entrepreneur, and social activists—people who had very little experience in what they were about to get into.

running on air photo shoot

Those who said they were scared of heights were only asked to drop off a seven story building. Those who were not scared of heights were asked to hang outside a 30 story building.

epic photos of everyday athletes

“Like most things in life, the hardest part was making a commitment. It was that first step to hang over the edge that was really the most difficult.”

von wong nike photoshoot

However, once they finally conquered that initial fear, they were free to practically run on air. And that’s exactly what came through in the final images.

photographing people suspended from buildings

It wasn’t easy, especially with a heavy bike as a prop. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned.

While a single image from the shoot may not be that impactful, the shoot itself serves to motivate the community and inspire the next wave of achievers.

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One response to “Photographing Athletes Hanging from a Skyscraper”

  1. John Sharples says:

    I am greatly concerned that the attachment devices appear to be an ordinary clip and not a “screw gate carabiner” often in the video I see a device that, with pressure the wrong way, can spring open and release the model. I understand this was shot in Asia where standards may not be so high but the life of the model has to be worth the couple of extra dollars to provide secure safety equipment.,

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