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These Surreal Portraits with Sharks are 100% Real

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sharkshoothead

Upon first glance, photographer Benjamin Von Wong‘s latest work looks like a Photoshop composite that shows a model swimming with sharks below the sea. But what you see is the real deal: Von Wong did actually tie down a model underwater with sharks swimming around, all for a series of surreal (but very real) portraits.

The shoot was done in Fiji, the South Pacific island nation known for its world-class shark dives. Everything had to be done within a 2-hour window between 11 AM and 1 PM, during which sharks would be active and light rays would be piercing the water.

Over the course of 3 days, the team patiently waited underwater for 6 cumulative hours as the model, champion freediver Amber Bourke, waited for sharks to swim into picture-perfect positions. The team sat motionless in the cave, lest their movements scare off the timid sharks as they approached.

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“Once one of them got deep enough into the cave and we thought there was a good chance of us capturing a shot, Amber would take a deep breath, rip off her mask and strike a couple of poses for as long as she could,” Von Wong writes.

Here are some of the amazing portraits that resulted:

Von Wong's Shark Shepherd

Von Wong's Shark Shepherd

Von Wong's Shark Shepherd

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This 2-minute video offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the shoot was done:

The whole project was for a good cause: Von Wong is raising awareness for the plight of sharks, and he’s helping to petition for a no kill policy and the creation of a new shark sanctuary.

“As a photographer looking to create meaningful work, this was the perfect opportunity for me to create a series of images that would promote [the shark’s] beauty while advocating for their protection,” Von Wong says.


Image credits: Photographs by Benjamin Von Wong and used with permission

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