If you follow local TikTok channels, you’ve already heard about the epic November photobomb, when local rapper, comedian and Numberz.fm host Shrista Tyree was minding her own business—having a promo photo taken in Southeast’s industrial area. An Amtrak conductor slid deadpan into the shot.
“We just saw the train coming and thought it would be tight to get in the photo, we didn’t expect to get photobombed,” Shrista says in a press release. In the photo, conductor Michael Wheelon can be seen hanging out a train window and throwing up a peace sign.
Tyree and her photographer, Richy Leafs, didn’t even register what had happened at the time. But when Leafs reviewed the shots, he caught the unexpected scene. Tyree’s manager Deandre Woods was coincidentally taking video during the shoot, and they combined it with the photo to make a funny TikTok that went unexpectedly viral—now up to 8.5 million views.
After the short video went viral, the bombing conductor’s wife messaged Tyree and helped plan a meet-up so that, in Tyree’s words they could “get this right this time.” Tyree and Wheelon met at Union Station where they posed for a cool squat pic and talked about local rap. They filmed the meeting with Portland YouTube show Cross the Street, which highlights local creatives, to dispel rumors that the photo had been photoshopped or planned.
The video starts with Tyree asking, “Why the hell did you photobomb me?” Wheelon answered that he does it all the time in busy urban corridors. “Coming in and out of town here, there’s all those crossings—some people hanging out. I’m always waving at people and giving people peace signs — just trying to make it fun,” he said.
At the station, Tyree and Wheelon had fans. Tyree laughs to overhear someone in the station say, “Oh shit, that’s the TikTok.”
Watch the whole reunion below, assured that there were in fact no conspiracies—only coincidences of conductors who wish peace upon the world. If you aren’t familiar with Tyree’s work, she was voted third-best local comedian in WW’s 2020 Best of Portland Readers’ Poll. Pre-pandemic she also ran a rap open mic called Late Lyrics.