Legends Online
Heinz Kluetmeier

Heinz Kluetmeier

   Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kluetmeier's interest in photography began in his early teens. By the age of 15 he was shooting pictures for the Associated Press - and while still a high-school student, he had the chance to photograph the likes of Vince Lombardi, Paul Horning, Henry Aaron, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The news agency was so impressed with his work, in fact, that after graduating high school, they offered him a full time job. Instead, he sought the safer road and studied engineering at Dartmouth. "My father never believed that photography would develop into a career," he recalls.

But even during his college career, he spent his summers in Milwaukee shooting for both the Milwaukee Journal (other staffers at the paper at that time included Bob Gilka, who later became director of photography at the National Geographic, and James Stanfield, who later became a staff photographer at the National Geographic) and the AP, as well as freelancing for Life, among other publications. After graduating, he even worked briefly as an engineer. From 1966 to 1967 he worked as an engineer for a steel company.

The desire to photograph persisted, however, and by 1969 he had joined the staff of Time, Inc. Kluetmeier shot for both Sports Illustrated and Life until Life's demise in 1973. He then joined the SI staff exclusively. He has since shot more than 100 covers for SI. In 1986, he was named Director of Photography at the magazine, then in 1988 took a break to go back to shooting full time. He returned to be Director of Photography at SI from 1992-96. Today, photography continues to be his first love. He maintains a rigorous shooting schedule and continues to cover every major event in sports, including most recently, the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

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Heinz Kluetmeier, 1990
Photo: George Tiedemann

Heinz Kluetmeier, Michigan vs. Wisconsin basketball game

Heinz Kluetmeier

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