How this local photographer’s Instagram post led to evidence in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial

When celebrity photographer Russel Wong posted a picture of former couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s honeymoon at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, he couldn’t have imagined getting embroiled in their trial. 

However, that’s exactly what happened. Wong’s post on May 20 with the caption “Why not! Happy Honeymoon at the Raffles Hotel 2015 with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard!” – a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the ongoing trial at the time – was submitted as evidence by Depp’s team of lawyers. 

The photograph was used to dismiss Heard’s claim that an earlier photograph of the couple on the Orient Express from Bangkok to Singapore, which showed a bruise under Depp’s eye, was doctored.

The photo Wong posted showed a slight discolouration under Depp’s eye, which corroborated with the Orient Express photograph to suggest that he was indeed injured.  

In a follow-up post on May 28, the Singaporean photog reiterated that he did not shoot the photograph. He wrote: “If you (had) noticed, the lawyers never mentioned who shot (the photograph) and neither did I throughout the trial. I always referred to it as ‘my post’ and not ‘my photo’. 

“I just wanted to set the record straight not expecting anything. In an hour, I was contacted by Johnny’s lawyers and team and that’s how it happened! Seeing my post on TV and hearing Johnny Depp read the text I wrote is still very surreal to me. I still have not found out who shot it and hope we find out one day.”

The person behind the original image has since revealed herself. Marketing executive Tan Li Tong commented on Wong’s follow-up post: “Hi Russel, I took this shot back in 2015 and I also have the original photo in full colour.”

Tan was a marketing intern with Raffles Hotel when she took the photograph. 

Wong is best known for his portraits of celebrities like Michelle Yeoh and Richard Gere. Most recently he hosted an exhibition, Russel Wong in Kyoto, with the Asian Civilisations Museum.

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