ANYONE familiar with photographer Benjamin Von Wong’s work should know to expect the unexpected — but even that disclaimer couldn’t prepare Lavington’s Tyler Grace for the surprise of a lifetime.
The 20-year-old opened his door to find the Montreal-based visual artist on his doorstep yesterday, jumping out of a cardboard box.
Tyler’s sister Bianca had arranged the visit as an early 21st birthday present.
“The first thing I saw was Ben’s hair,” Mr Grace said, acknowledging the mop of black and red atop Von Wong’s head.
“I’m ecstatic, I’ve never had a surprise like this in my life.”
“I was just kind of waiting for him to come back to life,” Von Wong, 27, laughed.
Tyler — a photographer himself with his own Albury studio, Tyler Grace Photography — had been a fan of Von Wong’s work for years, stumbling across his highly imaginative and somewhat surreal photography online.
His work helped inspire Tyler to keep pursuing his own dreams in the face of a number of health difficulties including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
With his only wish to meet Von Wong, Bianca got in touch with him and asked him to make a video for Tyler’s birthday, which is in June.
But Von Wong went one better, re-routing his travel plans through Asia to Albury.
He’ll now take Tyler under his wing for a week-long “adventure” around the Border and to Melbourne.
“I’m just hoping to learn as much as I can and have a hell of a lot of fun,” Tyler said.
And Von Wong is enjoying the experience just as much: “It’s not often you can make someone’s dream come true just by being who you are.”