The only thing more varied than photographer Michael Muller's portfolio—portraits of superstars from Kelly Slater to Lebron James, movie posters for blockbusters like Captain America and Spiderman 3, expedition coverage from the Galapagos to Tanzania—is his career path. Muller’s father, Thomas, a project manager who helped build and plan the city of Jubail in Saudi Arabia, used his vacations to take the family globetrotting and practice photography. By high school, the young Muller had traveled to roughly 50 countries and become a whiz with a camera. At 15, he had his first photo published in a snowboarding magazine. At the same time he was calling record labels and pretending to be a photographer for the Contra Costa Times, and shooting the world’s biggest bands as they performed around California. He spent those same high school years training for triathlons. After graduation, he moved to San Diego, climbed into the world top ten, and raced against the likes of Lance Armstrong. Then he did an about face and moved to Boulder to photograph snowboarders, going out 120 straight days to shoot a calendar before passing the reins to his best friend.
In the interest of time, we'll stop the chronology as Muller hits his early 20s, moves to L.A., and builds that portfolio. With so many famous faces and remote places in his quiver, you might think it would be hard to pick a gallery that stands out. It is, so we went with his latest groundbreaking project, photos of the world’s biggest sharks. Turns out, that many-toothed monstrosity of a project grew out of a simple and innocent childhood prank.
Read the interview below or check out Muller's Great White Sharks Photo Gallery.
What was your first photo?
Actually, the first photo that I took where I saw the power of photography was a shark. When I was in fourth grade, I took a picture of a shark in a National Geographic. So I had a photo of a photo and I was showing all of my little buddies. And they were like, Oh, no way. You saw a shark. I lied to them for like 20 minutes, until the guilt just ate me up. Then I was like, Nah, I’m just kidding. I took a picture of a picture of a shark. But I saw how excited they were and it always left an impact on me.