Podcast: Walter Iooss Jr.: Photographer for Life


For the headline of this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we lifted a line from our guest’s own Instagram bio. It would have been too easy to call a show with Walter Iooss Jr. “Sports Photography Legend” or some such, but that pigeonholes Iooss too easily, and does not recognize the scope of his engagement with photography and with the creative process. Yes, Walter Iooss Jr. is sports photography. He has more than 300 Sports Illustrated covers to his name, his first professional gig was at age 17, and for six decades he has photographed several Hall of Fames’s worth of athletes, including names like Arnold, Mary Lou, Muhammad, and Tiger, and his work with Michael Jordan is unparalleled. Also—every Super Bowl. But he has also photographed rock stars, models, fashion and commercial assignments, portraits, and documentary series. And he tells us of his love for music and that if not for a twist of fate, he might have been a musician. The man is a creator for life, a photographer for life.

With Iooss, our conversation takes a leisurely approach, touching on a few of his more memorable photos and some of the interesting lesser knowns; the breadth of his work alone could keep us talking for hours. Along the way, we learn a little about his upbringing, the love for music, his mentors, and the time he shot for Atlantic Records. We discuss how he builds a composition, whether it be an action shot during a game or a complicated portrait setup. We also talk about using a giant Polaroid camera, the coming of autofocus, and Canon DSLRs. Join us for this pleasant conversation that is sure to interest not only fans of sports, but fans of photography.

Guest: Walter Iooss Jr.

Photograph © Walter Iooss Jr.

Andy Samberg, 2011 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, 2003 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Emmet Ashford, 1968 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Tony Scott and Gary Templeton, 1979 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Greg Louganis, 1984 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Dave Parker and Grant Jackson, 1980 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Jack Nicklaus, 1967 © Walter Iooss Jr.
The Blue Dunk, Michael Jordan, 1987 © Walter Iooss Jr.
The Corner, Havana, Cuba, 1999 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Leipzig, East Germany, 1976 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Lee Trevino, 1991 © Walter Iooss Jr.
Willis Reed, 1973 © Walter Iooss Jr.

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves