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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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"I've just seen her around. I've never met her."

"I really love my wife."

Do I sit down and discuss this with Kobe, which I really want to do, or do I pursue this fleeting light? What's more important? I opted for fleeting light, and that was the end of that conversation. I still think about that.

Who would I like to shoot that I haven't? Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin would be fun. But my great white whale is Roger Federer. I tried, but SI never assigned me to shoot him. He is arguably the most beautiful tennis player you'll ever see play. I've gone to tournaments as a fan just to watch him, and I don't do that too often. He had this swagger from knowing no one was going to beat him.

He's not in control anymore, no longer the king. He's declined with Tiger Woods. It happens to everyone. I will be next. But I'd still like to shoot Federer, and I hope that he and Tiger can both make one more trip to the mountaintop. As the old song goes, "Love is lovelier the second time around."

I was sent to cover Tiger for the first time 11 years ago, in Southern California, and I brought a four-by-five camera because I wanted to try to re-create Hy Peskin's famous shot of Ben Hogan driving down the fairway at the 1950 U.S. Open. Since it was a normal lens, I had to get close to Tiger.

Now, the last thing a golfer wants is to have a photographer six feet away. You're never supposed to stand behind him when he tees off. Me? I decided I wanted to get in his face. He wants competition? He's gonna get it today. This is the way I've always felt. It's a game. I'm ready to play it with you, and I know you're ready to play it. Competition is all athletes care about, outside of money and sex.

So I'm getting close to Tiger, and he never looks at me. Now he's in the tee box, and I'm right behind him. I want him to recognize me and get used to me. All he knows is that I'm this new guy who's really getting in his face. So we're there in the tee box, and I'm starting to feel uncomfortable. My assistant, Tom Oba, and I are looking over. I have my dark glasses on, so I can look around without Tiger seeing my eyes. And now Tiger's maybe 50 feet away with Steve Williams, his caddie, and you can see Williams saying, "F------ asshole, that f------ guy over there," pointing at me. They're looking right at me, and I'm looking the other way.

So I say, "Tom, I think we need to back off for a hole or two," and I start to walk up the fairway.

Then Steve comes over to me and says, "Excuse me, mate, you ever covered a golf tournament before?"

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