April 2016 Member Spotlight: Heinz Müller

A round of applause for the winner of VPW’s Vienna DC Donau City Photo Walk, Heinz Müller!

Our congratulations go out to Heinz Müller, who is not only VPW’s only repeat-winner (he won the VPW October 2015 Burggarten Photo Competition), but succeeded in winning both first and second place at this month’s photo walk in the Donau City! You can take a look at both of his winning shots here.

Heinz is, in many ways, the heart and soul of our group – he never misses a single walk, takes part in all the monthly photo challenges, is always helpful and cheerful, and is a true VPW veteran: he has been with us since the first coordinator founded this fine group back in 2013! It was therefore my particular pleasure to be able to conduct an in-depth interview with him, and to then share it here with our readers. Enjoy!

VPW Photo Walk Winner Interview: Heinz Müller

I was born 46 (oh my God) years ago in Vienna and, apart from the occasional vacation and business trip, have always lived and worked in this city – and I still think Vienna is the best place to live and work in. Having completed my mechanical engineering studies at the Technical University of Vienna I began working in Quality Management at a printing company. I enjoy a lot of interesting interaction with my colleagues there but, as you can imagine, it is not the most creative job in the world. Maybe that’s why photography plays such a big part in my life.

My interest in photography began right after I finished school, when I went on holiday with some friends. I only had a point and shoot camera at that time, but I still liked the results. So, for my next holiday, I bought my first SLR – an analogue one, of course, as this was way back when. When my kids were born, suddenly the most important thing was to have a camera that could fit inside my pocket. And so I returned to using my point and shoot, and was mainly in the “family business”. About three years ago I finally upgraded again, and this time to DSLR. Since then I frequently take part in photo walks. Shooting aside, I like to share my interest with likeminded people, and am always fascinated by the angles and subjects I manage to miss, even when I’m in the exact same spot as another photo walker.

My intension has never been to become a professional photographer but to, rather, find peace, fulfilment, and inspiration from this hobby. One of my favourite quotes is ‘only dead fish go with the flow’; consequently, I am always searching to find and express my own, personal point of view. Maybe that’s another reason why photography is so important for me.

I feel very honoured and pleased to have been chosen as the winner of this photo walk. Of my own photos my personal favourite, the reflection of the DC 1 Tower in black and white, actually came in second place. I think that photo is very dynamic; this effect is enhanced by the many diagonal lines cutting through the shot, and the fact that one’s attention is inevitably drawn to the (hopelessly overexposed) area between the tower and its reflection.

When it comes to photography, I do not have a favourite subject or style, and prefer to mix it up. Whether it’s people, architecture, landscapes, nature, or long-exposure photography – there is beauty in each subject matter, and each one comes with its own challenges. Right now, though, I am working on street photography and specifically photographing people. I take most pictures using my tele-zoom lens, to avoid direct contact with my subjects. Having said that, I would like to become more daring and actually approach people… at least after the photo has been taken! At the moment I shoot using a Nikon D7000 with a set of lenses ranging from 10 mm Sigma, a 35mm Nikon prime lens, to 300 mm Tamron which I share with my son. As much I don’t want to settle for one specific subject or topic, I don’t stick to any specific brand either.

I never took any photography courses, so most of my “photography education” has been through trial and error. But I have learned a lot from my fellow photo walkers over the years, and really appreciate it when experienced photographers share their knowledge with others in the group. I also get inspiration from online articles and magazines, as well as books; I particularly recommend “Seelenraub” by Thomas Leuthard, which is available (in German) as free pdf-download here. The idea I liked the most from this book is to set yourself a specific topic for a particular photo session, and to then search for subjects and situations that fit that theme for the duration of the shoot. It’s a wonderful way to see old, familiar places in a new light.

When I was younger I travelled a lot, for business as well as pleasure; some of the more exotic, far-away locations include Brazil, Peru, the US, Myanmar, Australia, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. As I got older and started my own family I began travelling much less, and eventually settled down. Nowadays if I find time I like to take my motorcycle out for a ride; since the kids were born, though, that only happens once in a blue moon. But, you have to set priorities, and family comes first – apart from Vienna Photo Walks of course! 😉

I have been a part of Vienna Photo Walk from the very beginning, and it has been an extraordinary experience. Meeting friendly, interesting and motivated fellow photographers makes every walk a pleasure; I hope that everyone has as much fun as I do, and that we have many more walks to look forward to. And I would like to use this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the people who run this group, and spend their free time scouting locations and organizing the walks.

I would like to thank Heinz for taking the time to share his life story and thoughts here with me; it was a pleasure to find out more about him and his work. If you have any questions or comments for him, please feel free to leave a comment below, or send us an email.

As always, looking forward to the next walk, the next winner, the next interview!

Ally

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