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The Basement Tapes: Tino Pohlmann from Issue 104

Interview by Tim Schamber with images from Tino Pohlmann

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In issue 104, our 10th annual Photo Annual, we showcased 12 photographers and 1 collector that are at the top of their game in cycling photography. Here’s the extended interviews from Peloton magazine: The Photo Annual.

Tino Pohlmann. Image: Stefan Rachow.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is an amazing city with so much history. A mix of old and new. Neighborhoods and amazing pockets of creativity. Do you find that Berlin still inspires your art after being there now for more than 20 years? For me, Berlin is still an island in Germany, even after 20 years. The city is changing, of course, and many changes are not necessarily better just because they are new. Observing things in the city, with all the people, visitors, the old and the new, the contrast, the history, all of this still inspires me.

If someone is visiting Berlin for the first time, and because you are a local, give us the perfect day out in Berlin. Difficult to say. Everyone has their time and their way of having a perfect day. For me it is to cycle through the still clear air in the morning, out of the city and back in again. Then a coffee and a small breakfast in the Zeit für Brot bakery. Continue through the gallery landscape in Berlin Mitte and then relax in the park on Weinbergsweg. In the evening with friends for a good drink and for dinner, for example in the Prater Restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg. Of course, everything in the city by bike!

How did the project “Le Mineral du Tour” come about and what were you trying to achieve with it? “Le Mineral du Tour” is just one stage of my overall project, which is likely to stretch over 20 years. (This year it was my 18th Tour.) But it describes quite well what I’m about. With my work I would like to break the Tour down into its individual parts. Metaphorically speaking, I try to mineralize it, to distill it, to understand its core. Beyond sport. Close to the people with pictures and series of pictures that tell stories. ”Le Mineral du Tour” shows works from 2020. It is the first part of a trilogy for the years 2020–2022.

Stage 18. 2020 Tour de France.

Your work with Canyon continues and the Artist Edition bike was a huge success. Any more of that coming your way? That’s a good question. The Artist Edition was indeed a very special, beautiful and successful project. It came after the CAPTURED bike (2013), the second special edition that I realized with Canyon. I would never be averse to continuing this, but right now we have other exciting projects on the table that we are working on with great enthusiasm.

While you are a photographer, you studied design in college. How much does that learning come into the way you capture an image? For me, photography has always been something fundamental with sight. Learning to use the camera (you don’t need to study to do that). For me, design, the interpretation of form and space, is something that is fundamentally linked to photography. Studying design has shaped my feeling for design, my knowledge about it and I think it also influenced the way I see things around us as a photographer.

Stage 19. 2020 Tour de France.

The Covid pandemic has limited travel. How does it feel to travel and get out doing your art? It is of course a big change for everyone, but also for us photographers. For me it is essential to show closeness to people and things. Closeness without the use of tele lenses; I mean physical closeness. Pulling the viewer into the pictures—that is very difficult at the moment. Taking the Tour as an example. Outside of the race, it is very difficult to impossible to work behind the scenes as it was before Covid-19. It forces us to rethink in parts in order to produce exciting images.

You use a Leica most often. What is about using Leica you love? For me, Leica is the perfect tool in photography. That means: reduced to the maximum, the best optics in the field of small-picture photography. Ergonomic, robust and intuitively designed. I also feel the typical Leica approach with every camera. I am very grateful to work with it.

Give our readers a typical camera setup for taking photos at a race. My typical setup for an exciting stage in the mountains, for example at the Tour de France, is a Leica SL2, 24–90mm lens, 2x Profoto B10 plus, reflectors, tripods, radio trigger and accessories. A Phase One XF, 80mm, 55mm and 150mm lenses.

Alejandro Valverde. Stage 17. 2020 Tour de France.

The image of Alejandro Valverde stands out to me. The light and capture of his body and position is stunning. Yes, the picture was actually taken on one of those mountain stages. In this case at the Col de la Loze last year in the French Alps. It shows Alejandro fighting against losing time in the overall standings. The image embodies the athlete, the person and the physical struggle in every cell of the human body. The posture tells us about it. The stylistic means and the use of artificial light give the picture a special clarity and again something that we as a spectator may not be able to see in a fleeting moment.

Facebook: @pohlmannphoto
Instagram: @pohlmann_photo