Interview with Russell Tanoue, Hawaii’s Favorite High Fashion Photographer.

I  first met Russell at Tsunami’s in Waikiki.  I was walking by with a friend model of mine, Mario Lopez, and I glanced in and saw him playing darts with a friend.

“That’s Russell,” I told my friend,” let’s go say hi!”  I had not formally met Russell before, but I went up and introduced myself.  He was very friendly, and next thing you know, we were having cocktails, and exchanging business cards for the Japanese designer who gave him his cool jeans.  The bar was dead and it was just the 4 of us playing darts together.

His face is no secret to the Hawaii model scene.  RUSSELL TANOUE, special event host/producer, and one of the most successful fashion/glam photographers in Hawaii, has been shooting the top models and creating big faces in Hawaii for 20 years now.  His photos can be seen all over, including Midweek magazine and Swimsuit Ilustrated.

How long have you been a photographer in Honolulu?

20 Years

What got you started into photography?

I began doing makeup and started taking photos of my work which lead to the photographer I am today.

What are your favorite things to photograph?

I love a wide array of subjects.  Like I tell aspiring photographers, it’s not how pretty your model is, it’s how much better you can make them look.  I like taking a norm and making them spectacular.  A pretty face can be boring after awhile.

What inspires you as a photographer?

Well after all these years, I’m very much inspired but what you DON’T see.  It’s amazing on how I can feel a person so well.  And that inner beauty is what inspires me.  Even a person that is so insecure or low self esteem, it inspires me to lift them.  Bring to a place they feel safe then capture the beauty they are hiding.

If you could shoot any celebrities who would you shoot?

Celebrities for me are just people.  I think I would love to shoot Oprah because I’m sure on
the set she would simply be herself.

If you could shoot for any fashion house who would it be?


Where have you been published?

Midweek, KoreAM, Face Magazine, RPM, Swimsuit Illustrated, Transpacific Magazine, Pacific Rim, Honolulu Magazine, Calendars, CD covers to name a few.

What is your weapon of choice? (camera)

I love my coolpix!  Ha, ha

Do you do your own photoshop or work with graphic artists?

Yes I do it all.

Where did you go to school?

McKinley High

You do Beautiful @ Pearl now every Saturday?  Tell us more about Beautiful.

Beautiful is on it’s 5th successful year and is on the last Saturday of every month.  The event is special because it’s not about quantity, but quality.  VIP’s are really cool people and most are successful individuals, celebrities, etc.  I have a great following and at the event is where a lot
of my fans have come to meet me in person for the first time.  For some, amazing friendships were born at the event.

What other events and promotions have you been a part of?

I produce special events annually such as my charity event Inspire, Chinese NY Event, NYE
events and coming up in July is my 13th Annual Birthday Celebration.

What got you started into promotions?

It was my annual birthday celebrations that started promotions.  My annual birthday events were held at Ocean Club for 5 years and this is when I was asked to host a once a month event there.  The Piranha Room, which guest stood in line for 2 hours or more just to get in.  The event was featured on E Entertainment, MTV, Travel Channel, etc.  It really was the start to so many other club events
in Honolulu.

Lets hear more about you:

Fav restaurant?

I dine a lot so to pick just one favorite, hmmmmmm.  I love
Tavola Tavola on Monsaratt, Chai’s, Ruth Chris, Mortons, Bistro Aun, Mac 247
damn their calamari is to die for!  The list goes on and on.

Fav club? I would have to say Pearl.  But I also love the Lobby Bar at the
Edition Hotel.

Fav food?

Anything organic.

Fav drink/ cocktail?

Grey goose splash nothing.

Fav color: Brown, light blue, black

What’s your sign? Cancer with a nice shell. (that means he’s compatible with sexy Scorpios and Romantic Pisces)

Boxers or briefs (or commando) 😉

wow, I love both.  Briefs and boxers.

Any previous gigs?

HOP!  Chinese New Year Celebration Year of the Rabbit @ Pearl

Any upcoming gigs?

Beautiful on March 26, MidWeek 12th Annual Swimsuit
Issue shoot, 13th Annual RTFOTO Birthday Bash in July.

Facebook:  Maxed out.
Website: fansite: official:

Check out his ongoing event @ Pearl, Beautiful on Saturday.


2 Looks including hair and makeup
All high resolution images


Kristie Manning

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