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Star photographer TelIer

'I was less nervous shooting Elton John'

Juergen Teller is one of the best in his profession. The 51-year-old from Erlangen went to London in 1986 – and started his international career as a photographer there. He has held shoots with stars like Elton John, Sinead O'Connor, Kurt Cobain, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kate Moss. Teller has been working with German weekly newspaper Die Zeit for some years. They came up with the idea of doing something new and joining FC Bayern on the Audi Summer Tour China.

On Thursday Zeit Magazin featured 29 pages of amazing photos and a text offering exclusive insights into the Bayern family. talked to star photographer Teller about his experiences.

Interview: Juergen Teller Juergen Teller, you usually work in the fashion and music industries. Why did you join FC Bayern on their trip to China?
Juergen Teller: I've been considering for a long time: what can I do in terms of football? Would I be interested in it? What would be exciting? There have been many offers, but I usually decline because it's the live experience that's the best part: the dynamics, the emotions. You don't want to look at still images of football players, that's rather boring. But I couldn't let go of the idea: perhaps you can do something...

And then the request came in...
Yes, I thought: this opportunity is one of a kind. A trip with FC Bayern, a club I love. In China as well. Wow! Extremely interesting! Had it been the USA, it wouldn't have tempted me so much, I've seen everything there. But I've never been to China, and it was worth it!

What impressions did you gain?
I came back thrilled by the friendliness, the hilarity, the professionalism of the whole of FC Bayern. It wasn't easy to approach the players at first. I can understand that they aren't exactly thrilled when a guy with a camera approaches them. But it became more relaxed from day to day. In part it's up to you – how emphatic or unnerving you are when dealing with people. I think I was sensitive enough. It was very easy with Thomas Müller for instance.

He was open-minded and intelligent. He understands the business. I've shown him photos and even gave him a book.

What were your personal highlights on the trip?
Well, it started with check-in at the airport. The players stood next to each other, just in front of me, a yard away. And I took photos of them. I couldn't believe it. When I photographed Elton John or Kate Moss I wasn't nearly as nervous.

And in China?
At times I joined the players on the bus, and we attended different events. With Lahm, Müller, Götze, Guardiola. I saw the table tennis match played by Lahm and Müller against Chinese pros, and Lang Lang, and so forth. It was stunning when I walked across the pitch with the players after the victory over Inter Milan in Shanghai. Here I was, in the thick of it, with my camera. It sent shivers down my spine, a special moment.

How many photos did you take?
Oh... many! (laughs) I don't know. A number of them can be found in Zeit Magazin, I'm even considering a photobook of the trip. It was really fascinating. The effect Bayern Munich had on the Chinese, madness! Fans with Bayern tattoos, running around, shouting in German: Bayern, mein Leben (Bayern, my life). Crazy.