Walter Iooss’s name is synonymous with modern sports photography, his work having graced the cover of Sports Illustrated over 300 times. Steve Fine, director of photography at the magazine, deems Iooss the foremost sports photographer of his generation, “A fixture in American journalism to a degree that I think people who see the cover of Sports Illustrated don’t know.”
A year after attending the German School of Photography in New York City, he got his first assignment from Sports Illustrated, which was to cover Roger Maris’s 61st homerun in Yankee Stadium. He was added to the masthead as a contributing photographer at 19, and shot his first Sports Illustrated cover that year, of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey.
Iooss went on to photograph major sports events, including the 1st World Series, between the Yankees and the L.A. Dodgers, the ’68 Mexico City Olympics, and the ’76 Montreal Olympics. He left Sports Illustrated to work on the “Shooting the Gold” project for Fuji Film for 1 1/2 years, which focused on U.S. athletes as they trained for the ‘84 L.A. Olympics, which was subsequently published in book form. Before that time, he also photographed the 1st Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot in the Bahamas, and a celebrated fishnet shot of Cheryl Tiegs in Brazil.
But it was sports and its powerfully inherent drama that captured Walter’s attention, and after publishing his work in books such as “Baseball”, “Football,” and “Sports People,” he created a masterful photo-essay with Michael Jordan, “Rare Air,” which went to #1 on The New York Times best seller list. This accomplishment was followed by books on “Andretti,” “Cal on Cal,” “Diamond Dreams,” and, among others, a follow-up essay with Jordan for Sports Illustrated, called “The Last Bull Run.”
Walter Iooss continues to shoot intensely dynamic work, publish collections of his photos, and in addition, has had a retrospective of his photography exhibited at the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles. His Fuji Olympic images were shown at the International Center for Photography in New York, National Geographic’s Explorers Hall in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Iooss also celebrated his 40th anniversary with Sports Illustrated in 2001.