Ballantine’s Presents Benjamin Von Wong’s Underwater River


In late May, Ballantine’s Scotch whisky and ‘hyper-real’ photographer Benjamin Von Wong journeyed to Tulum, Mexico with a team of 35 (including a champion free diver!) to participate in a unique, experimental underwater photographic project. Floating thirty metres (30m / 100ft) down in the ancient ‘Angelita’ Cenote ‘sinkhole’, is a cloud-like layer of hydrogen sulfide which separates salt and fresh water, creating a unique visual phenomenon – flowing ‘underwater river’.


Inspired by this natural phenomena Von Wong wanted to celebrate his Chinese heritage, his beliefs and his deeply ingrained passion for experimentation, setting to work with Ballantine’s to create a these seemingly impossible underwater images – a stunning, contemporary recreation of a fading ancient tradition, the Chinese Cormorant Fisherman.


After just one month of intensive planning and research, across three continents, a specialist team comprised of some of the world’s most experienced divers, set builders, underwater film makers and a record-breaking free-diver descended on the Mexican jungle, for five days in May to undertake a challenge none of them had ever before contemplated.


Bringing the epic production to life involved the ever present risks that accompany any underwater shoot, but these were further exacerbated in this beautiful location thanks to the hydrogen sulfide cloud which posed an ever present threat to the crew’s safety!


Benjamin Von Wong says: “For me, the process and immense challenges of creating images that make people question ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ is almost important as the image itself – I want to people to be inspired and to question what they’re seeing. Being given the chance to even attempt something so crazy, and working with such talented people to make it happen, was truly humbling.”

Let’s check some of amazing Benjamin Von Wong’s photo works below:


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