- Member Status: PLATINUM
- Artist: Walter Iooss
- Hometown: Montauk, New York
- Shoots: Portrait, People, Sports
When Walter Iooss was a teenager in New Jersey, he couldn’t imagine that anything would ever replace the joy and intensity of the stickball games that absorbed his summer days. Decades have passed, and now Steve Fine, Sports Illustrated magazine’s director of photography, calls Iooss the foremost sports photographer of his generation, "a fixture in American journalism to a degree I think people who see the cover of Sports Illustrated don’t know." Iooss’s shots have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated over 300 times. Walter was one who ran along the sidelines, a guerrilla armed with a Nikon focusing short and long lenses with amazing eye-hand coordination. He captured action in a way never seen before, and created a new, freer perspective. It was basic journalism but with a difference: extraordinary backgrounds. As in his action shots, the portraits of SI’s swimsuit issues reveal an uncanny graphics sense and Rembrandt-like reverence for light and shadow. In 1982 he was approached by Fuji film. The teaming unleashed an epic, two-and-a-half-year project to photograph Olympic athletes up to and during the 1984 games. During the period of work that followed Fuji, the intense essays of individual athletes he’d created at the Olympics played on his mind. In the fall of 1992, Iooss approached Michael Jordan with the idea of just such an essay. The results show the god of basketball in full flight and, perhaps more importantly, as an earthling, a human after all, amid the trappings of the upper-class athlete. Walter’s studies of Michael Jordan are classics. "The real joy of photography is these moments," says Iooss. "I’m always looking for freedom, the search for the one-on-one. That’s when your instincts come out. I’ve been lucky enough to have people hire me to do that. Sports Illustrated never really restricts me. They want me to do what I do. It’s the discovery. It’s still magic."