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,JohnF. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Upon hishigh 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 from Dartmouth, he worked as an engineer, but it wasn’t long before the lure of photography got the better of him and in 1969 he became a staff member of Time, Inc. He has since shot over 100 covers for Sports Illustrated and in 1986 was named the Director of Photography at the magazine.
For more than three decades, Heinz Kluetmeier's pictures have virtually defined what great sports photography is all about. In a world where television and magazines have saturated our imaginations to numbness with an endless stream of great sports images, Kluetmeier's photographs manage to perform the unthinkable: they cause us to pause, to examine and, most importantly, to feel.
At the 2008 Olympics, Heinz captured what has become the iconic image of both the Beijing Games and Michael Phelps’s career – the underwater shot of Michael’s win in the 100 meter butterfly that kept his quest for eight gold medals alive.