For almost four decades, Heinz Kluetmeier's pictures have helped define what great sports photography is all about.
Heinz Kluetmeier was born in Berlin, Germany and as a child, moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Heinz was captivated by photography early on. At the age of 15 he was already shooting pictures for the Associated Press – capturing such people as Vince Lombardi, Paul Hornung, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Upon his high school graduation, he was offered a full time job as a photographer. However, his education took precedence, and he decided to pursue a degree in engineering at Dartmouth College. Nevertheless, Kluetmeier spent his summers in Milwaukee shooting for the Milwaukee Journal, the Associated Press and freelancing for Life magazine. After graduating Dartmouth, Kluetmeier did in fact go on to work as an engineer for a steel company from 1966 – 1967.
It was not long before the lure of photography got the better of him, and in 1969, Kluetmeier became a staff member of Time, Inc.. He shot for Time as well as Sports Illustrated and Life magazines. He has since shot over 100 covers for Sports Illustrated and in 1986 was named the Director of Photography at the magazine. He has subsequently returned to the rigors of photography on the road.
It has often been noted that what sets him apart from his peers is his interest in the emotional impact of a shot rather than the technology involved. He has said “I think that the technical approach is often irrelevant to the picture in terms of what you do as a photographer. I think the most important thing is to have a vision, to have an emotional feeling, to care about what you’re photographing. You have to have something that’s already there in your heart, in your eye.”
It has been Kluetmeier’s ability to engage the viewer with the passion of the moment, that enables us to experience the emotions of the very moment captured on film. It is this quality that has singled him out from his colleagues – Simply put, Kluetmeier has the power to make us feel.