If Walter Iooss doesn't have the best job in creation, the guy who does is having way too much fun. As an SI photographer, Iooss takes portraits of the world's greatest athletes and the world's most ravishing supermodels. Some years back, while photographing model and actress Carol Alt for a swimsuit issue, he noticed that she kept a diary in which she would paste Polaroids of the jobs she worked on, giving her a record of her life. It occurred to Iooss that his life was worth keeping a record of too, so he began stashing prints of his favorite photos in a journal. As time went on, Iooss decorated these pictures with pen-and-ink illuminations, made collages and occasionally scribbled comments in the margins to explain the circumstances surrounding the shoots. The resulting book—Sporting Life—is a unique and intimate work of art.
Even without Iooss's added touches, the book is an intriguing collection of photographs. There's Magic Johnson demonstrating the baby skyhook, Kathy Ireland strolling nearly naked in the Waikiki twilight, Michael Jordan celebrating one of his innumerable triumphs with cigars and champagne in his room at the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton, and Mario Andretti feeding a pig by hand. Equally riveting are Iooss's noncelebrity photos, including an essay on Venice that captures a romantic one-day sojourn he took there with his wife, Eva.
There is little explanatory text accompanying the pictures, but when Iooss does take to writing, he discusses topics only he would be privy to: Such as, supermodels get cranky when you make them crawl in the surf on all fours and there are times when you have to think of something to say to Joe Montana so he'll hang around long enough for the sun to drop and provide perfect light.
The more time you spend with the book—and you will spend time, as strumming through its pages is a mesmerizing experience—the more you realize that it is less about what Iooss thinks of his pictures than what he feels about them. What he feels is exhilaration and wonder, emotions you will share as well.