Rainer Müller's body of work in sports photography is impressive and covers many different sports. His technical skills are reaching perfection, but his main goal always is to capture the athletes' emotions. Sports photography is very challenging. Let us listen to Rainer and learn more about how he became a master in this genre and to the advice he wants to give to beginners.
First of all, can you tell us some more about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Rainer?
I was born in 1959 and my father was a shoemaker.
I have studied automation engineering and I work with a well-known construction machine manufacturer today. I am very enthusiastic about technology and love to cook together with my lovely wife and love nature.
When were you first attracted by photography?
I was first attracted by photography in the year 1973, when my godfather gave me a camera.
You're an outstanding sports photographer. How did you come to it?
First of all: many thanks for the compliments
I love almost all the subjects in photography.
Since many years I am fascinated by well-done sports photos, especially the photos that show the athletes with all their emotions, have done it to me.
I initially believed that this was not possible by a layman like me. So I started to learn by doing it again and again.
Today I also have the technical equipment to achieve this quality. Without this high-quality technique, it would not be possible.
Today I am sure that a layman with “the eye to recognize special situations” can do that too after learning, and repeating it again and again.
I guess you had to practice a lot to develop your skills when you started in this challenging photographic category?
Yes, I had to practice a lot in the past few years to meet my high quality requirements.
The longer I do sport photography, the higher the demands.
Your work is impressive and covers so many different sports. Do you need to have an understanding of all the sports?
The better the understanding of a sport is, the better the results will be.
It is important to foresee the movement sequences of the athletes.
While it is impossible to have an understanding of all the sports, the understanding grows with more practice.
How do you anticipate the action and capture critical moments?
Foreseeing the movement sequence of the athletes is the most important thing to manage this.
How do you give a sense of action/speed/movement to an image?
In most cases it is important to catch (freeze) the facial expression and the tension of the muscles.
Is it important to plan your shoots to give yourself a better chance for a unique image?
In most situations it is not possible to plan my shoots.
In some sports the movement sequences can be planned if you pick one of the athletes (hurdle race, 100m sprint) and follow him or her until the finish line.
The image is more important than the camera, but is there such a thing as essential gear to be able to shoot sports?
To capture motion and emotions, you need a very fast camera.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses and more) ?
I use an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera with 300mm f / 4.0 and 40-150mm f / 2.8 lenses.
What software do you use to process your images?
I’m using Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC
Technical perfection is as important as the impact of a sports photograph motif. Can you tell us something more about your work flow, from the moment you shoot up to the end result?
For me there is no standard workflow that fits every situation.
I choose the perfect settings on the camera, depending on the light situation and the effect I want to reach. Then I watch the situation through the viewfinder and wait for the perfect moment to do the final shot(s).
Can you describe your very own vision when it comes to sports photography?
My own vision is to make the perfect emotions loaded photo.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
There are lots of examples I found many years ago and still now, but I don't have a specific photo taken by another photographer which really inspired me.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
I think my favourite photo is “hurdle race”.
This shot shows so much emotion. It shows the will to victory – the will to reach the finish line first. I love the eye contact.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Sports Photography?
Normally the camera equipment is absolutely not critical to the quality of a photo.
I tested several combinations during many years of practice.
But sport photography is an exception in this respect. In order to reach really good quality, a fast camera in connection with really good lenses is absolutely necessary.
That makes sports photography really expensive.
You also need a lot of practice. Try to find out, where in your area you can let off steam to get this practice.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I don’t really want to achieve specific goals. I just want to perfectionate my results.
What do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I like the 1x community a lot.
I like this outstanding and professional platform to get really good inspirations from others.
I like to show my own works, to get professional feedback from really good photographers.