122. Who is the guy in the gold Nikes?

He’s photographer Russel Wong.  He’s shot everyone from Tom Cruise to Carl Lewis and he got his start at the University of Oregon.  I had the chance to sit down with him over coffee a few weeks ago and he was hilarious.  He used to shoot athletes for Nike (hence his amazing one-of-a-kind gold shoes) and has worked on countless movie sets.  While talking to him, we discussed one of his most famous portraits of the Prime Minister of Singapore (where he currently resides).  He said that the Prime Minister never smiled, especially in photographs. But Russel Wong’s infectious personality rubbed off on the Singaporean leader.  I asked him what he talked to the PM about?

“Food,” Wong said.

I should have known.  Wong also has a love for food and writes a blog about his favorite restaurants and food findings while traveling the globe.  He said at the photo shoot, everyone around the PM was strict and serious.  So, he walked up to him and asked, “So, what do you like to eat, man?”  Apparently the powerful man was so stunned he asked him to repeat his question.  He laughed and told him, “I guess I like cod.”

Now, whenever I look at this portrait, that’s all I can think about.  I wonder if it’s the same for Russel Wong.  He seems to really connect to each of his subjects.  That’s probably why celebrities can’t wait to work with him.


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