Celeb portrait photographer shares tips with TNP readers
Renowned S'porean photographer of Hollywood stars Russel Wong also reveals secrets of good portrait sitting
To win their hearts, you must first fill their stomachs.
No, this is no adage for finding a spouse.
For celebrity photographer Russel Wong, feeding his famous sitters their favourite food is the secret behind his star-studded portfolio of portrait photography.
He has photographed big names such as US singer Michael Jackson, actor Tom Cruise, cellist Yo Yo Ma and Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat, among others.
The Singaporean's pictures have appeared on the covers of Time, GQ and Elle, among others.
Before each shoot, Mr Wong, 53, spends hours researching his subject and finding out what puts him or her at ease, including the person's diet.
"Everyone has their idiosyncrasies. I do my research and talk to their manager. It's a form of respect and they appreciate it," he says.
These were some techniques that Mr Wong, touted to be the first Singaporean to break into the Hollywood movie industry, shared at a smartphone photography workshop organised by Oppo yesterday afternoon for 30 lucky readers of The New Paper. (See other report.)
He became a "celebrity photographer who photographs celebrities" after joining a renowned modelling agency and carving out a name for himself in international fashion photography.
"Working with celebrities, you need a game plan and a visual that you have to explain to them. I can't do what I want to do if they don't want to help me out," he says.
"The photo-taking process is just two per cent of the whole thing."
The result is he gets the rapport he needs to carry out his ideas for a fashion spread.
Even if a star is not feeling well, he is able to charm him to "perform" in front of the camera.
Says Mr Wong: "It's not that I want to shoot famous people only. But these are people who have achieved much in their craft, whether as an author or a rock star, and they enter the pop culture consciousness. I want to document that."
His most memorable subject? It has to be Jackie Chan, he quickly answers.
"I've photographed a lot of people... But my favourite will have to be Jackie because he's always fun and crazy. He always wants to create an amazing image and nothing scares him," he says.
TNP readers get superstar treatment
Thirty lucky readers of The New Paper got the chance to attend a workshop by Mr Russel Wong yesterday.
They picked up valuable advice on photographing people with their smartphones and got to chat with the celebrity photographer about his experiences with famous stars.
Mr Wong, who has photographed stars such as the late Michael Jackson, conducted the two-hour long workshop at the Oppo concept store in Suntec City.
Organised by Oppo, a smartphone manufacturer, the workshop was attended by readers who correctly answered a question that appeared in TNP.
Participants were also given superstar treatment when Mr Wong got each one to pose while he photographed them with a mobile phone.
The photos were printed on the spot.
A few asked if they could take selfies with Mr Wong, and he obliged.
"I had a great time and I got a souvenir out of it. Now I think I'm qualified to photograph Jackie Chan too," said one participant.