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News & Insight

Photography Brings A Life Of Adventure To Paralyzed Mom & Son After Accident

By Holly Roa on May 10th 2017

Just in time for Mother’s Day, photographer Benjamin Von Wong and photographic digital artist Karen Alsop have helped tell a story that reminds us how powerful and important our job as a photographer can be.

Australian mom Sarah-Jane was forced to give up her very adventurous pastimes following a surgery-gone-wrong, and that took from her one of the ways she and her young son would bond. Karen Alsop’s helpful creative organization, The HeART Project, knew that although they couldn’t return Sarah-Jane’s mobility or give her back the experiences she and her son, Hamish, would now miss, they could use their creative talents to give the two lasting memories in the form of photos.

The HeART Project’s work is typically more fictional, pieced together from images captured in-studio and in settings other than what would appear in the final images. Sarah-Jane’s shoot was a little different, as for this occasion, The HeART Project had Von Wong on hand to make real-world magic happen for a mom and her son – something so important to a woman who had once been able to do so much on her own, granting not just the appearance of an experience but the real thing and feelings that go along.

Von Wong took his Sony a7R II and Broncolor strobes on location in Australia’s Blue Mountains to capture Sarah-Jane and Hamish in rock-climbing, cliff-dangling action. The weather was dreary and formidable, but the crew and subjects were determined to make this moment and capture it for mother and son to cherish.

After making Von Wong a guinea pig to test the safety rig, Hamish was suspended with his mother at the top of the cliff looking on, and then Sarah-Jane herself was held in place mid-air and lighting equipment was held from above while Von Wong descended the cliffside with his camera nearby. The resulting photos will last a lifetime and serve as reminders that there is still life after a life-altering event.

In addition to Von Wong’s contributions, Karen Alsop created a fantasy-driven series depicting Sarah-Jane and Hamish in other adventure scenarios.

Sarah-Jane would like to use her situation to benefit others. She has a GoFundMe seeking donations to fund a project that would make the Blue Mountains more accessible for those who are wheelchair-bound, giving new possibilities for a full life to people who would find it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy the wilderness. If you’d like to make a contribution, you can find her campaign here.

Photo by Karen Alsop


Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

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