The Heat is On: Profiling Walter Iooss, Jr.

Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

Of course that can have a number of connotations as we enter this week. The almost oppressive heat that is sweeping the country in the wake of one of the dampest springs on record nationwide, the news of embattled Ohio State University head football coach Jim Tressel’s resignation or a discussion about the beginning of the NBA Finals this week.

The Miami Heat begin the final stretch of their possible championship run (of course the Dallas Mavericks have something to say about that) tonight. No matter how you feel, you can be sure this will be one of the better NBA Finals that we’ve seen in some time. Personally, I have no dog in this hunt as my underachieving Knicks will be watching the Finals from the same place as everyone else…at home.

Picture by Walter IoossThe reason I mention sports in today’s post is not just to talk about the Finals, but to highlight the work of a fellow photographer as I kick off a retrospective of photographers PopLifePhotography are crazy about. For as long as I can remember, Walter Iooss, Jr. has been one of the most prolific sports photographers out there. A master of the classic image, Iooss has been delivering insane images to readers of Sports Illustrated since his first picture was used for cover of SI in 1963 at the age of 20.

Iooss has been an indelible part of sports photography in a way that many sports icons have. In fact, one would argue that there has been intrinsic connection between photographer and athlete in the way that the photographer freezes the feat of the athlete which, while great, fantastic and amazing, often happens in the blink of an eye. The photographer takes that moment and makes it immortal. No one has done that as well and as long as Walter Iooss, Jr.

One of his biggest projects as a sports photographer was that of working with NBA legend Michael Jordan. Some of the work they did together became the stuff of photographic legend. With his signature moves and seeming ability to take flight, Iooss covered Jordan much like someone would cover Superman: Images in flight, hanging in the air for what seems like an eternity, helping to boost an athlete into iconic immortality.

Photo: Walter Iooss, Jr/SI

In addition to his sports exploits, Iooss has also added to his own iconic status with his work as photographer for SI’s vaunted swimsuit issue, where he has worked with just about every iconic model you can think of from Cheryl Tiegs to Tyra Banks. One of my favorite SI Swimsuit photos is one he did of Kathy Ireland a picture that was without a doubt instrumental to my youth.

Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

His ability to capture the perfect moment with the perfect subjects has always made him a personal favorite of mine.

This year, Iooss has released Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Heaven, a collection of some of his best work as SI Swimsuit photographer. You can order the book from Amazon here.

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