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THE EDUCATION OF WALTER IOOSS JR.
Walter Iooss Jr.
December 12, 2011
The intrepid SI photographer spent the last 50 years shooting the biggest games, the greatest athletes and the most beautiful swimsuit models. Some guys just can't catch a break
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December 12, 2011

The Education Of Walter Iooss Jr.

The intrepid SI photographer spent the last 50 years shooting the biggest games, the greatest athletes and the most beautiful swimsuit models. Some guys just can't catch a break

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The next day we show up at the stadium, and the L.A. press wants to ban Neil from all games, because no photographer had ever run out on the field like that. There on the front page of the Sunday Los Angeles Times is a picture of Neil with the players reaching around him, taken from upstairs.

And you know what? Neil got a great, great shot.

I went to the first Super Bowl, in Los Angeles in January 1967, and it was crazy. SI needed to go to press Sunday night because it would cost a fortune to hold off the presses. The idea was to send two Learjets from L.A. back to New York with the game film, one at halftime and one at the end.

The night before, I went to the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood with a girl from San Francisco to see Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. I didn't drink much at the time, but I had way too many that night. I was completely hammered.

The next morning the phone rang at six, and it was the picture editor: "We got a lot of problems in L.A.," he said. "We got fog. We're going to have problems with the jets. Get up now. And get Neil."

I got into this cab with Neil, and it was hot and smoggy. We had the windows down, and I remember this scorching wind and I had a horrible hangover and Neil was talking a mile a minuteā€”he was in great shape. It was like a bad drug trip. I felt like I had a pipe running through my head, and everything he said just went straight through the middle and out the other side.

We got to the Coliseum, and they had a Coke dispenser, so I drank about seven Cokes, which helped wake me up. I stationed myself in the end zone, away from everybody else. And of course the Packers' Max McGee made a catch, bobbling the ball and pulling it in, and ran into the end zone, and there I was: Touchdown. Cover. This of course infuriated Neil, because I was completely unprepared. That's the last time I ever showed up to work like that.

It's good to love yourself. Reggie Jackson loved himself. He loved posing, loved everything about the camera. In 1969, the year he had 37 home runs at the All-Star break, I took a picture of him in Oakland, shooting down the first base line through a thousand-millimeter lens. Reggie hit one and dropped the bat and just watched the ball. The catcher was up, the umpire was up. You look at the picture, you know it's a home run. No caption needed.

Eleven years later, after Reggie went to the Yankees, a photo editor at SI told me, "We want to redo this picture."

So I spent a week at Yankee Stadium, and I went to Reggie and showed him the photo and said, "I want to re-create this picture. I'm going to go down the rightfield line. You'll see me out there."

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