However, his ambition of directing was thwarted due to the intense competition for schools in Berlin and Munich specialising in film direction. Instead, Duttmann focused on photography.
In the early 80s, he launched the style magazine Tempo, Germany's equivalent to The Face and i-D. Like its UK equivalents, the title was hugely influential on Germany's creative scene and it wasn't long before Duttmann drifted on to the radar of creative directors at Germany's ad agencies.
Now 45, Duttmann works not only with German agencies but also with other shops around the world.
"I started working with Jung von Matt when they had only seven people. If you are a photographer on the hippest magazine in your country, you will be spotted by the good agencies as they're always looking for new stars.
"I still work with Jung von Matt a lot. I did the BMW campaign earlier on in the year. I love doing car campaigns as you don't always have to show a car; you can show it from another angle. With the latest campaign, we showed BMW engineers reflected in parts of the car such as the headlights or the mirrors.
"In terms of other car brands, I work with Springer & Jacoby on Mercedes and Smart and earlier this year, I did a campaign for Skoda for Leagas Delaney Germany.
"I also love working on sports brands and I've worked on both Nike and Adidas. Campaigns for these brands are always trying to do something different by showing portraits of interesting characters.
"Creative output in Berlin has changed: there are a lot of boutique shops now which try to do really creative stuff, but it can be frustrating when work is safe just to please the clients.
"If you start from somewhere like Hamburg and stay there, you won't get noticed on the international scene. I was lucky as I worked with Annie Liebowitz for a year in New York and working with someone like that one-to-one was a great experience."
Uwe Duttmann was talking to Lucy Aitken. His portfolio can be seen at www.duettmann.com.