I really enjoyed visiting the exposition Big Heads by German photographer Martin Schoeller in the Fotomuseum earlier this year. ‘Big Heads’ is a series of close-up portraits taken of (mostly) celebrities, taken with a wide angle lens from a short distance with a large format camera and a large aperture. The pictures only show the face of the subjects – even their necks are not visible.
Martin Schoeller explains this unusual perspective from the fact that, when he was an unknown photographer, he did not get much time and possibilities to influence the location or the clothing of his subjects. Cleverly, he decided to turn this weakness in a strength. Instead, the had to work fast and accept the location and clothing as a given.
Martin Schoeller explains the choice of celebrities as subjects due to this upbringing in post-war Germany where heroes and worshipping them, was not done due to the second world war. For this reason, he was surprised by the celebrity culture in the USA when he emigrated to this country.
Prior to establishing himself as an independent photographer, he worked as an assistant for Annie Leibovitch. He credits his technique to Bernd and Hilla Becher, who became famous for their work of identical industrial installations.
The Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam is located in Katendrecht, in the neighborhood of Hotel New York. the former terminal building of the HAL (Holland America Line). Here a number of emigrants left Europe for the US.
All pictures were taken with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 (Mark I)