Russel WONG, the Richard Avedon of Asia, is experiencing the best times of his career. This celebrity photgrapher has reached CELEBRITY status in his own right, with sold-out gallery shows, a book bearing his name, and a roster of international superstar-friends.
Russel WONG's work has taken him into the insides of Hollywood, and yet his heart feels a sense of duty towards Asia.
Russel talks about that profound sense of duty and maybe grab a few tips from one of the greatest minds in modern Photography.
FULL NAME: Russel Wong
PLACE OF BIRTH: Melbourne, Australia
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Singapore
EDUCATION:Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, USA. Bachelor of Science, University of Oregon, USA.
CAREER: Celebrity Photographer
You are considered the biggest, most respected Celebrity/Fashion photographer in this part of the world, how does it feel to hold that throne?
My goal was just to work with the best people no matter where they were. I also realized that there was no one that shot with all the top Asian directors and actors in the film business... There are great photographers that work with all the Europeans or the Americans but somehow, that never happened in Asia. I feel a duty to document the Asian film industry as it's going through the most interesting time now and I'm living it.
Your early days as a photographer was a story of amazing determination and amusing luck, what did you learn the most?
Being persistant and no job I do is too low for me... I shot everything including passport photos of Hollywood executives... But that got me in the door!
You've done several photo projects for major Asian films, which one was the best experience by far?
"Lust, Caution" Ang Lee's new film was great to work on. Ang is a genius and it's always a pleasure to be with him and also to learn from him. And his Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who also shot Babel and Brokeback Mountain. Tony Leung and Joan Chen are good friends and amazing talents so that was a joy.
How about the famous Asian celebrities you've shot, can you name some of your favourites?
Jackie Chan, Joan Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi.
You've shot quite a handful of portraits of International Actors and Models too, any particular stories to share about any one of them?
There has been to many of them and we would need about a year to talk about it! Just that when I look at a photo, it brings me back to the actual shoot and hopefully a good memory.
How do you get your super star subjects to trust you in taking their portraits, did it come with your fame or was it a gift you've always had?
You create a comfortable atmosphere and I am very casual with them. Your work always makes them more trusting and I do explain to them what I'm after like what a director would do to actors.
Portraiture is what you're most known for, but your landscapes seem to be gaining popularity as well. Is it easy to transition from one to the other?
I apply the same concept of light and composition.. It's just that for landscapes, you don't have control over the lighting so you wait with a cup of coffee till it's right!
Do you get a different satisfaction from each?
Yes, it does exercise a different part of my brain for sure! Shooting landscapes brings me back to how I started: just a camera and me...No agents, no hair stylist... Just GOD's beautiful light!
For more information about Russel Wong, go to www.russelwongphoto.com