It was one of those singular moments that photographers live for: a subject with perfect form and style outlined by the sun. With the clouds scudding by in the afternoon sky above Mission Viejo, Calif., it was left to Walter Iooss Jr. only to point his camera heavenward and capture this spectacular photo of diver Greg Louganis. For Iooss, who has spent more than 20 years learning to seize such opportunities, this was just one of many rewarding moments in what he calls “the best assignment of my life.”
Sponsored by Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., Iooss has spent the last 18 months crisscrossing America to photograph our athletes as they train for the Olympics. He has exposed about 1,000 roils of film, some 36,000 frames, which have been winnowed down to a choice 80. This collection, called “Shooting for the Gold,” has just opened in Washington, D.C., with additional exhibits scheduled for San Diego, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Next October, after completing his Fuji assignment at the Games, Iooss, 40, will publish a book on the Olympians, with text by New York Times columnist Dave Anderson.
Iooss was 17 when he sold his first photograph to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, where he is now a contributing photographer. Since then he has shot more than 175 covers and covered two Olympics. Yet nothing will compare, he insists, with this summer’s Games: “These Olympics will be like two weeks’ worth of Super Bowls, two weeks of the seventh game of the World Series. It will be the biggest sporting event in American history.” For Iooss, however, it’ll be a snap.