Famous Faces Living Forever on the Blockchain With Rainer Hosch
Jun 30, 2022 Marilyn Wilkinson reading time 4 MIN
“52icons” is a highly-personal NFT collection of some of the most famous faces of our time, taken by star photographer Rainer Hosch. The collection is dedicated to Rainer’s father, who passed away when Rainer was 11, now living forever on the blockchain. Unchained. The Blockpit Magazine spoke to Rainer to learn more about the stories behind the photos.
World-class photographer Rainer Hosch grew up in Josefstadt in Vienna, Austria, before studying photography and moving to the States. His NFT collection, 52icons, is dedicated to his father, Heinz Hosch. Heinz, a photographer and war journalist who risked his life in war zones such as Vietnam and Western Africa, has inspired Rainer in truly remarkable ways. On the day he unexpectedly passed away aged 52, Rainer decided to keep his father’s camera and continue his father’s legacy.
Listen to the podcast interview or read the article to learn about Rainer’s journey with NFTs, and what it’s like to make NFTs of the likes of George Clooney and Kim Kardashian.
How did you start with photography? What or who inspired you to do it?
As it is said in English, “It was put into my cradle.” It started with my father being a photographer; my mother was a hobby photographer. Therefore my family had cameras “en masse.” There has always been photography, and I would always get photographed. My father developed the films in the bathroom. He set up a makeshift darkroom in the kitchen when he had to develop something quickly. The smell of developer and film has been in my life since childhood.
Then, unfortunately, my father passed away unexpectedly when I was 11 years old. The day I found out, I decided: I wanted to have his cameras and continue his legacy.
I think it was a competitive advantage. Many photographers I met at school or later in life told me, “Well, photography is interesting, but I’m also interested in architecture or philosophy or….”. For me, it was always a one-way street: photographer or photographer.
Tell us about your new NFT collection 52Icons.
The collection is called 52icons and is dedicated to my father. My father is also part of the collection as the Original Icon. In his name, in his honor, I made a retrospective of my career and my photos.
I selected the 52 most important portraits or most important moments I have experienced and minted them in a collection on the blockchain.
How and why did you start with NFTs?
I came across NFTs by chance. Friends of mine arranged a talk, and it was about NFTs. I thought, “That sounds interesting, I will have to do more research on it,” and I started to learn more about the subject. I started it as a collector. At some point, I thought about making my own collection.
The idea of doing it about the story of my father and me came up because it is a unique way to give my father a momento that will last forever. The Blockchain is an entirely different option than a website or a print, and so it arose step by step. Of course, you could have done an exhibition or a magazine article, but the Blockchain was unique. It feels like it’s for eternity.
You have done NFTs of many famous personalities: Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Warren Buffett, Iggy Pop, Falco… What was the most unusual or extraordinary shoot so far?
Every shoot is special in a certain way because it’s always slightly different. The situation is always a different one. But of course, there are a few highlights.
George Clooney was one of the most sought-after images. Many wanted a picture of him. I have been working with George for over ten years now. The photo I included in the collection is a very personal one. It was on one of the shooting days during lunch break. George came towards me in the hallway with a camera and said, “Ah, Rainer, glad I found you. My wife gave me a camera for my birthday, a Leica, and I don’t know how to use it at all. Can you give me a quick intro course, please?”
I said, “Sure, George, I’d love to,” and I explained to him, “Here’s the exposure. This is where you have to focus,” and so on. Then I took a picture of him, and then he took the camera and took a picture of me to practice. I didn’t bring a camera with me because it was the lunch break, but I had my iPhone. If George Clooney takes a picture of me, I have to take a picture of it. I grabbed the phone quickly and took a snapshot. That was a unique photo, not the typical photo on set with a coffee cup but George with his Leica, which he got for his birthday. That was something special, and that is the photo I chose for the collection.
The best camera is the one you are holding right now, right?
Exactly. Falco was another special person I shot in Vienna in 1996. I grew up in Vienna in the 80s, and Falco was a youth idol. “Rock me Amadeus” was number one in the United States, and we thought, “Well, that’s the way it should be, right?” The shooting in Vienna, the record cover, was the greatest thing I dreamed of at the time: to work with Falko for once. That was one of the reasons I said I would like to go to New York or London now because I had the feeling that I had achieved my goal in Vienna.
I wanted to discover something new, and with the NFT collection, or NFTs in general, it was such a new technology that kind of took me off track and fascinated me. As an artist, a photographer, and a human being, I’m always searching for something: What’s the next thing I can do? I don’t want to rest on my laurels.
You did an NFT of Kim Kardashian. What was it like?
The NFT was like all the other NFTs, and you just do it. But the shoot was quite fun. We were shooting in Hollywood for a magazine. She was presented as a businesswoman and requested a particular unusual studio. I didn’t know exactly why she wanted the studio so badly. It turned out she wanted a studio where she could drive into the studio in her car so she wouldn’t be caught or harassed by any paparazzi along the way. There was this huge gate that opened, and I laughed and said, “That’s funny because I just set up the background outside.” I wanted to photograph in daylight. Then they all looked shocked for a moment until I said, “I’m really fast. Give me five minutes.” And then she said, “Okay.” She is one of the nicest and easiest personalities I have photographed, and everything was easy with her.