Michael Poliza has never been a man to do things by half measures. His entire track record shows somebody who jumps into projects with both feet, immersing himself completely in the subject matter and fast being seen as a leader in whatever field he chooses.
Michael just grins when somebody mentions he’s lived three lives. To an outsider, the trio might seem highly divergent. But look more closely and they have very similar themes, all shaped by his uncanny ability to detect a new direction in the early phases, and then to work unstoppably in mastering the subject matter and pushing the boundaries of what is deemed possible or probable
The first of Michael’s lives was in television. By the time he was a teenager, he was as well known as any actor could possibly be in Germany at that time, and he appeared in more than 100 television shows and films.
His second incarnation was as a businessman. After catching a glimpse of the digital future while spending time in the USA as an exchange student, he returned to Germany and built an impressive business in the IT sector.
In 1997, Michael began his third life focusing on digital media. His Starship Millennium Voyage had journalists and photographers join him to cruise around the globe and document the state of the world’s wild locations. And that’s where his publishing experience began: the book of the voyage quickly became a bestseller of more than 50,000 copies.
The voyage over, Michael turned his attention to the game reserves and nature parks of southern Africa. Thanks to a friendship with Wilderness Safaris, he had freedom of access in return for the use of his images – a truly symbiotic relationship that saw the development of a significant body of wildlife and landscape imagery. The resultant book AFRICA was launched to massive acclaim in 2006. “Poliza has taken wildlife and landscape photography to a new level,” the Cape Times raved. Great Britain’s Daily Express was no less unequivocal: “If ever a book could take your breath away, this is the one.”
ABC’s Good Morning America selected it as one of the best coffee table books of that year, with the New York Times acknowledging: “It is unlikely to change the way you think about Africa. But it might change the way you think about photography.”
The result of a helicopter journey across Africa, which provided a bird’s-eye view of the continent and showcased nature’s graphics, his next book, EYES OVER AFRICA, achieved equal acclaim and success, and was named as Book of the Year 2008 in both Germany and the USA.
Then, briefly done with the heat of Africa, Michael turned to the world’s cooler climes. ANTARCTIC, published in 2009, is a touching and opulent coffee table book, which insightfully portrays the beauty and fragility of polar life. ANTARCTIC was a milestone in Michael’s life for another reason: it took his eyes off Africa. He returned to his birthplace of Hamburg, where he opened his own gallery and revived old friendships and associations. In December 2009 he was named as an ambassador of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The plan at this point was to move on to photographing Australia, yet somehow Michael could not shake off his love of the African continent and the beauty of its scenery. In anticipation of the first ever World Cup to be hosted on African soil, he headed back to South Africa to explore its backroads and to take a snapshot of the country in the months leading up to the historic event. Incorporating the work of a selection of leading South African photographers he invited to supplement his own material, SOUTH AFRICA not only provided a number of surprising views of the country that would temporarily be in the international spotlight, but it drew Michael’s attention back to some of the imagery of his prior years in Africa. The book CLASSIC AFRICA is the result. Michael Poliza has never been a man to do things by half measures. His entire track record shows somebody who jumps into projects with both feet, immersing himself completely in the subject matter and fast being seen as a leader in whatever field he chooses.