Behind the Lens with Jonas Gutzat

Drone Catch
Photo Courtesy: Franziska Weidner. Jonas Gutzat pictured with his drone.

By Kate Santilena, Swimming World College Intern.

As adamant swimming advocates and with today’s social media craze, we are always searching for those perfect photos that show off our unique sport of swimming at its finest. However, unless we know a thing or two about cameras, we are not too sure exactly what it takes to create that stunning image we show off to all our followers.

Here is some insight with former division one swimmer, Jonas Gutzat, on some of his preferences when creating these phenomenal shots behind the lens.

Ocean Swim Drone

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

Swimming World: How did you get into photography and video production?

Gutzat: When coming to the U.S. my freshman year in 2014, I got a Hero 3 GoPro. I took it everywhere including the pool where I took video, pictures under the water and made a team video out of it. Eventually, I got a drone where I could put the GoPro underneath, and that’s how I first got into videography.

Once I got my first camera, I took it to all kinds of swim meets including dual meets and conference and started taking pictures in between my races. People seemed to like them and use them on their social media. After that, I figured out the underwater housings for cameras, which I primarily got to shoot in the ocean since I currently live and go to school in Oahu, Hawaii. But I found that in the pool, I could produce more sports-related content.

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Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

SW: What’s your favorite swim related environment to shoot and why?

Gutzat: My favorite environment, if I have time, is to set up photo shoots in the dark with a variety of lights. It’s more time consuming but pays off by making the photography look more intense. In this environment, there’s more structure and I have more influence on what the shot is going to look like. However, if you shoot sports – including swimming – there are always aspects that are unpredictable and spontaneous. I enjoy the challenge of trying to predict the movements of the athletes I am shooting.

Underwater streamline

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

SW: Do you have a preferred camera or lens for swimming shots?

Gutzat: I have a Sony A7SII and A7RII, which are two different cameras with two different purposes. One is really good at taking pictures and the other is really good at video. So, it depends on what I am going for during a particular photo shoot.

Usually for underwater shots, I use a 16 to 35mm lens to get the wide angle, but I also like the 85 mm with really shallow focus shots. With that, you can get really intimate shots, and you can separate the subject from the background.

Back start

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

SW: What do you look for while shooting underwater vs. above the surface?

Gutzat: If I have a shoot with one or two people, I can direct them with what to do. What I’ll look for are lines, like at the bottom of the pool or lane lines, to help generate depth in the shot. These lines are called “leading lines” that go into the distance and gradually get smaller, which add depth to the whole shot. More recently, I have gotten really into portrait underwater shots as well, making the pictures more relatable and intimate.

Above the water, which is usually during a meet, I have to try to predict what is going to happen and be ready or be at the right place at the right time. I am always looking for “eye candy” or something that will capture someone’s attention.

Underwater free

Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

SW: What are some challenges you face when shooting swimming in particular?

Gutzat: Some challenges – for underwater shooting especially – are the need for proper equipment, to be able to hold your breath for longer periods of time, stay submerged and bubble control. During swimming, athletes make bubbles that could hide a face, for example, so timing that is important. There also needs to be communication with the swimmers on when, where, how and what I want them to do. However, having been a swimmer, I usually know what to tell them. In general as a photographer, it’s always good to be familiar with the sport you are shooting.

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Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

SW:What are some of your favorite projects you have created?

Gutzat: I have had the opportunity to create the University of Hawaii’s athletic banquet videos and my swim team’s conference “hype” videos. I enjoy putting athletes in a spotlight and using my ideas to creatively generate that “wow that’s awesome!” reaction from my audience.

SW:What are you looking to do with this career path in the future?

Gutzat: I am looking to combine my majors in Communications and Creative Media to create meaningful, relatable content and stories that resonate not just with athletes but also the everyday person.

Swimming is a sport that can be challenging to truly capture its unique movements and beauty. Finding success behind the lens requires preparation, creativity, and a one-of-a-kind eye for those Insta-worthy shots.

-All interviews are conducted by the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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4 years ago

Great story and amazing videos! Can I book you for a photoshoot?