“Walking into Stift Admont was like entering Disney’s Beauty & the Beast library.” That’s how photographer Benjamin Von Wong describes his first encounter with the world’s oldest monastic library over on his blog… and you can see why.

This is, bar none, the most beautiful library this editor has ever laid eyes on… and I’d be surprised if I was alone in that sentiment.

As with all of Ben’s photo shoots, the unspoken theme was “how can I create something straight out of a fairytale.” With the beautiful Jen Brook modeling out-of-this-world dresses designed by Agnieszka Osipa while sporting make-up done by the ever-talented Bianca Kristin Woltsche, Ben took full advantage of the incredible opportunity to shoot in this frescoed dream world.

Here are the other two final shots. All three of them absurdly popular among 500px users… no surprises there:

Of course, creating fairytale photographs isn’t as easy as setting up a few lights willy nilly and taking some pictures. Even a $40,000 camera system and thousands in top-of-the-line Broncolor lights are no guarantee that you’ll capture a great image.

As Ben explains on his blog:

Lighting up the library was quite a challenge. Its beauty was wildly dependent on the 48 windows of sunlight to illuminate the 70,000 books and manuscripts on display. Unfortunately we were only given permission to shoot after hours so that meant trying our best to re-construct the lighting as naturally as possible.


To get the lighting right for the featured photo at the top, Ben and his assistants — Eva Creel Photography, Sickled Foot, Zoe Klomp, and Oliver Schlichtherle — set up speedlights to light the arches and ceilings (this helped maintain the depth of the space), and then used the large Broncolor lights to make Jen pop out of the background.

Once set up, they used a slightly longer shutter speed (1.3 seconds) and triggered the lights manually as the cloth was thrown in the air, capturing the perfect frame. Cue breathtaking results…

My personal favorite behind-the-scenes detail Ben shared about the shoot, however, isn’t so much technical as it is comical. In the photo of Jen framed by the doorway, white dress poofed into a perfect circle around her as she contemplates her reading options with appropriate wonder, she actually wasn’t alone in that dress.

Seriously! In order to get the proper amount of volume, Zoe Klomp — who Ben had only met a couple of days before at a trade show… — was asked to get underneath the dress and poof it out on the count of three!


For Ben, this photo shoot was a dream come true — a long-standing goal that seemed, for years, impossible. Every library he reached out to replied with a flat-out no, but he didn’t give up, and in the end his determination paid off in spades.

He met and got to work with incredible people, shot in a dream location, and lived a story he’ll be laughing about fondly for years to come.

And now, as promised, for those who stuck with us to the end (or scrolled here prematurely… I’m judging you), here is the Behind the Scenes video created by Nadja Ellinger:

To read more of Ben’s personal thoughts on the project, or if you’d like to see more of the behind the scenes photos captured during the production, head over to Ben’s blog post by clicking here. And don’t forget to follow him on 500px, check out his website, or show him some love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.