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News & Insight

Von Wong Gives Photographer With Chronic Illnesses The Gift of a Lifetime

By Chris Nachtwey on August 5th 2014

Von Wong is known for his surreal, epic photoshoots and behind the scenes videos we showcase here on a regular basis. While some well known photographers might appear larger then life to fellow photographers, I’ve always seen Von Wong as just a normal guy with a big heart. He is truly a public figure in the world of photography, and besides his work, the one thing that has always impressed me about Von Wong is the love he has for his fans. Take a few minutes and check out the video below to see just how much Von Wong loves his fans, and is truly a great ambassador for photography.

Australian photographer Tyler Grace suffers from multiple chronic illnesses and has lived half his life in hospitals. When Tyler came across Von Wong’s work, it truly changed his life. Finding inspiration from Von Wong, Tyler decided to use photography as a creative outlet to conquer his illnesses and find his purpose in life. Tyler reached out to Von Wong via social media to thank him for all he has done to inspire Tyler.


Little did Tyler know, his sister had emailed Von Wong this year telling him Tyler’s one wish for his 21st birthday was to meet Von Wong in person, but without the funds to fly Von Wong to Australia, a 2 minute personalized video would mean the world to Tyler. Von Wong was in Singapore and decided this was a unique opportunity to make a dream come true. So he bought a plane ticket to Australia and decided to plan a week long adventure for him and Tyler together.


Von Wong made it one memorable adventure! He created an amazing image of Tyler and his sister trudging through mud to a brighter future that you see below, invited Tyler to be a guest speaker at one of Von Wong’s conferences he put together in Australia as part of the trip, and took Tyler to a rodeo. To cap it off, in true Von Wong style, he put together an awesome fashion photo shoot to show Tyler how he works in person and gave Tyler the chance to make some of his own images during the photo shoot.




Von Wong is a class act to take the time out of his busy schedule to visit Tyler for a week. It is a testament to who Von Wong is as a person. After seeing what he has done for Tyler, it goes to show he is much more than just a great photographer, he is a great person and at the end of the day, that means a lot more in the game of life.

You can read more about Von Wong’s time with Tyler over on his blog.


CREDITS: Photographs by Von Wong have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Chuck Eggen

    Thank you for being a good human being. You have a heart of gold. I think we receive as much from this as Tyler did.

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  2. Eder Novacki

    Von Wong always amazes me. That’s one cool dude. Hope this gives Tyler even more passion to go through his difficulties and actually reach his bright future :]

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  3. Daniel Thullen

    Von Wong is not only a great photographer, but a great humanitarian! Von, you are an inspiration to us both as a photographer and as member of the human race!! Keep being Von!

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  4. Rafael Steffen

    Von Wong approach for photography really makes us rethink a lot of things in a great way. One of the magical parts of being a photographer is to make a difference in peoples lives and that is what matters to me. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story to keep reminding us how important the happiness part is.

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  5. David Lefranc

    How inspiring ! It proves that photography is so much more than just pushing on a button ! Thank you Von for doing this, you’re a great person ! And Tyler, keep up the good work !

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  6. Austin Swenson

    You know I was just listening to a photo podcast earlier where the host said that he thinks that photographers can be the biggest cheapskates with their time and services and that they need to get out and shoot some images and just do something nice for someone. This project really personifies that exactly. Kudos to Von Wong for being so awesome!

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  7. Greg Faulkner

    The world would be a much nicer place if more people did stuff like this. I imagine Tyler must have days when he feels he’s been deal a pretty crappy hand in life, something like this must be an amazing boost for him.

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    • Vonw Wong

      we can only control ourselves, no sense in trying to wish how others would act. If we start by changing ourselves, maybe others will follow :D

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  8. Valerie Bybee

    Love stories like these when people give back to those who are just beginning to dream.

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  9. Ryan Hanson

    True class act! Such an awesome guy

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  10. John McCosh

    Von, You are an amazing photographer and an amazing person was so awesome what you did for Tyler, spending a whole week with him is definitely above and beyond. I take my hat off to you and Tyler keep up the great work you are an inspiration to us all.

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    • Vonw Wong

      Thanks John, I like to believe that anyone would have done the same in my shoes and the real hope behind sharing the story is that if everyone feels compelled to do something nice to someone around them then the story becomes a success :)

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  11. Raoni Franco

    Attitudes like that in times like these……..that’s refreshing, to say the least. Awesome!

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  12. Kurk Rouse

    This is truly one of the most amazing gifts you can get, not only did he get to be a part of a photo but it looks like Vong Wong let him into his thought process for both taking creating the photo and then enhancing it in post. He has given this dude a gift of experience and knowledge in which he can use to help himself to develop into an even better photographer…great story. Love seeing stuff like this .

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  13. Reynardt Badenhorst

    WOW. WOW. WOW. Such inspiring people! Thank you for sharing Chris.

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  14. Matthew Gruber

    What a great opportunity for both of them. Great dose of inspiration for all of us, too.

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    Now that’s a great photographer……keep it up man

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  16. Rob Hall

    Really touching, I really admire Von Wong for being so humble and constantly seeking opportunities to give back.

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  17. Brandon Dewey

    Great Article and Video!

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