By Michael Jordan

15 ratings - 4.33* vote

After 47 years behind the camera Walter Iooss Jr. can't quite put a number on the countless sports subjects he has photographed throughout his career. But whoever the portrait, whatever the setting, a common theme runs through his personal archive: All are athletes lured into the joy of sport. In a 256-page panoramic collection, Iooss handpicks more than 150 of his classic After 47 years behind the camera Walter Iooss Jr. can't quite put a number on the countless sports subjects he has

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Book details

Hardcover, 256 pages
May 6th 2008 by Time, Incorporated Home Entertainment
Original Title
Sports Illustrated: Athlete
1437672892 (ISBN13: 9781437672893)

Community Reviews


That Walter Iooss is a great photographer, is not in question. That this work is among his best work is questionable.

Great photos abound in this work, but most that are of that stature are early work of Iooss from 20 or more years ago. The Michael Jordan photos that are among some of his most iconic of recent years are represented in this work, but not all are the best of the MJ images.

There are baseball photographs from the glory days and early in Walter's career that are iconic. But they are older. Later images of baseball players and action are static. Some are only worth a brief glance because of an unusual or impossible viewpoint. One is an overhead of Ken Griffey, Jr. swinging over home plate that is almost something out of graphic design. But is it more than a composition that no one who wasn't a famous photographer would have access to achieve? Maybe, maybe not.

Many of his photos of current athletes are only moderately successful portraits. Yes he captures an element of personality with some such as Kobe Bryant that are relevant if only because he had access to the 'personalities'. Others such as Tiger Woods don't pierce the veil in the way that even a decent photographic portrait of a celebrity must to succeed. One of the more famous included is Charles Barkley filling the back seat of a limo. But does it show us anything?

There are some one of a kind shots such as Muhammed Ali and George Frazier who are both old and ill. Powerful photograph even if you are unaware of the back story. By comparison a shot of Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommie 'The Hitman' Hearns is just two guys looking at the camera.

Some stunningly effective portraits including Ray Lewis and Jack Nicklaus that jump off the page. Both killers who would leave you dead or just step over and on you to get to the next play.

Action photos worth special note are of Sandy Koufax at full extension ready to release the ball and Jim Brown who carrying the ball has a look on his face of total control in an obviously dynamic situation.

There are a few surprises buried in these pages with one my favorites being of Steffi Graf. Not playing tennis, not doing anything other than being an Olympian type figure posed for pure aesthetic effect. Great photo and though you cannot see her face, if you know anything of Graf, instantly you know it is she. Great photograph. One of the best five shots in collection.

Ali has some other entries one or more of which are in that magic top five. He of course was among the most photogenic figures of the 20th Century. So no surprise the entries including him are worth first, second, and third looks.

There are many staged action shots in this book that as SI covers, title page art for featured articles and posters are just fine. They are an accompaniment. Standalone they are lacking. Other modern portraits in this collection have famous athletes standing around or lounging in ways that don't tell us enough or are coy. The celebrity veil is not lifted, punctured, or even momentarily slightly brushed aside. One staged shot that does standout is of Edwin Moses airborne above a high hurdle.

The quality and size of the book is most definitely first class. The photographs are unblemished by captions and use full spreads when needed. A very visually attractive book if weak on slightly closer inspection. This is a book that contains too many photos that have already been widely seen and a few that didn't need to be republished.

Great photos, average photos, and few that questionable as to their inclusion. Overall worth a look if not some review with the caveat that it is a page turner. And that isn't a ringing endorsement for a book of photos. A reader should be frozen in time by images of this type.