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What’s In My Portfolio: Russel Wong

by Russel Wong
04 Sep 2019

My story as a photographer began with shooting for Nike and sports icons when I was at the University of Oregon. This got me on track to being a professional photographer. I shot my first international cover during this stage, which was a great encouragement for me at a young age.

I then went to an art school in Los Angeles, where my formal training began, along with my exposure to Hollywood. I improved my portfolio massively and brought it to a more competitive level with images of top models, young celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr., and established film directors such as David Lynch.

With a good portfolio in hand, I returned to Singapore and set up a studio to do mostly advertising work for clients such as Singapore Airlines. This was my business period —although I still did celebrity portraits.

An opportunity to work with Jackie Chan came next, which led to doing more work for the Hong Kong and Asian film industry. I spent time in China and Hong Kong, shooting the likes of Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-fat, and working with top directors such as Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou.

This was an amazing chapter during which we made a global statement with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” I also began shooting the first of my many Time magazine covers. I spent long hours on movie locations and shot film posters, which I really enjoyed.  

The next chapter was more for myself; I started shooting fine art prints of Asian landscapes that I sold at Christie’s. I was back to what I loved best — just me shooting with a large-format camera.

I had to do it for my soul. This led to my Kyoto book on geishas, a work in progress over the past 10 years.

The recent chapter would be shooting the publicity for “Crazy Rich Asians,” of which I was a part since its inception. I’m back shooting at home — I love and feel proud to be part of it.