Walter Iooss is one of the sports world’s most respected photographers and perhaps the single most successful sports photographer in advertising today. He’s shot more than 300 Sports Illustrated covers (his first at the age of 19), contributed to the magazine’s Swimsuit Issue for 30-plus years, and published 13 books—including The New York Times #1 bestseller “Rare Air: Michael on Michael” in 1993, “Athlete” in 2008, and “Heaven” in 2010—and he has shot campaigns for clients ranging from the Esquire Network, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Nike, Oakley, and Canon to Gatorade, the National Milk Council, and Kellogg’s. His work has been exhibited at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, among other important cultural institutions.
“He’s the best action shooter ever in sports,” says Scott Mc Kiernan, chairman of Zuma Press, the world’s largest independent editorial picture agency. “He has an uncanny ability to make you feel you’re there, even though you couldn’t be, because only a few people have that access.”
“The action comes to him, and he never misses. No one shoots like him,” notes Sports Illustrated’s longtime director of photography, Steve Fine. “He's an artist who is quite possibly the greatest sports photographer ever."
Walter was just 17 when he embarked on his photography career—his first assignment was for Sports Illustrated—and the intervening decades have only deepened his love of the medium. You can see it in his various personal projects, whether it’s his handmade, collaged diaries or his ongoing series on Montauk, where he and his family bought a house in 1977. “Photography is not a job. It’s a way of life,” he notes. “I live it, think it, and feel it. It's just in my DNA.”