Walter Iooss: A Lifetime Shooting Sports & Beauty

From the stark sepia cover photo of menacing behemoth Mike "The Bear" Taliferro to the back cover photograph of model Elle McPherson dreamily lit by sunset, the breadth of images caught over the last 40 years by Iooss's lens is simply stunning. His action photos freeze the ballet of sports; his portraits reach for the heart of the sitter. As a staff photographer at Sports Illustrated for nearly four decades, Iooss has wrung art out of a dream job: he is constantly where the action--and the beauty--tends to gather. This marvelous retrospective shows him equally focused on the agonies of competition and the thrills of the swimsuit issue. If a virtual who's who hangs in this coffee-table volume of a gallery--Yogi Berra, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Cal Ripken, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Michelle Kwan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and many more--the real thrill of witnessing Iooss's craft is the range of its democracy. His camera caresses surfers, speedskaters, young Korean kickboxers, and, in a shot that defines the concept of "concentration," a biathlete, with as much affection, respect, admiration, grit, and humor as it does a Ken Griffey, a Sugar Ray Leonard, or a Paulina Porizkova. So much of the work recorded here is just amazingly inventive--spectacular angles, limber perspectives, and clever setups; with his camera, Iooss has an unmistakable genius for recording what most of our eyes can't imagine, let alone see. --Jeff Silverman