Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 11/18 - With guy yo­com

Leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher Wal­ter Iooss Jr on al­most be­ing killed

by Jor­dan Spi­eth and run­ning se­cu­rity for Michael Jor­dan. With Guy Yo­com

I’M PHO­TOGRAPH­ING JOR­DAN SPI­ETH IN DAL­LAS. We’re in a hit­ting bay at Trin­ity For­est, and I need him to aim a 6-iron shot at a cam­era sta­tioned di­rectly up the line of play. For the mo­ment, the cam­era is right by my head. I’m con­trol­ling it re­motely, and I plan to move, be­cause I value my life. I toss Jor­dan a syn­thetic ball that is soft, but not that soft, and tell him what to do.Within three sec­onds, be­fore I can move away, he lets it rip.The ball misses my head by an inch and slams into a wall be­hind me. It plugs for a sec­ond, then falls to the ground. I gave him a look that said, You just came this close to killing

me. Jor­dan had a look of his own that said, Hey, I did what you told me to do. All he saw was the tar­get. I’ve never seen a golfer with that kind of con­fi­dence.

the thing i’m ex­pert at – the thing I re­ally take pride in – is break­ing peo­ple down to who they re­ally are. Ath­letes some­times project some­thing su­per­fi­cial or not re­ally gen­uine, some­thing other than who they re­ally are, and I want to get past that.

there was a day in 2008 when we had 15 min­utes to pho­to­graph Tiger Woods. I was one of two pho­tog­ra­phers, and we de­cided we’d get ex­actly 7½ min­utes apiece.The last thing I want is pic­tures that sug­gest Tiger was rushed, which can hap­pen be­cause the cam­era doesn’t lie. So when Tiger came in and we said hello, I spoke very slowly, like there was all the time in the world. I said, “Tiger, here are a cou­ple of ex­am­ples of what we’re go­ing to do.” In the group of pic­tures were a few shots of swim­suit mod­els.“Oh, man, that’s Marisa Miller!”Tiger said. It to­tally took his mind off the clock.That’s what I mean by break­ing some­one down.The photos turned out great.

i didn’t need the full 7½ min­utes, by the way. I have two rules of the road for photo shoots that hap­pen to ap­ply to ev­ery­day life. One, al­ways fin­ish in less time than you agreed on. If you fin­ish early, it will in­crease ex­po­nen­tially the chances of the sub­ject work­ing with you again.Two, leave the lo­ca­tion bet­ter than you found it. No empty wa­ter bot­tles, no chairs out of place. Peo­ple re­mem­ber these things.

the shot of marisa miller that wound up on the cover of the 2008 Sports Il­lus­trated Swim­suit Is­sue hap­pened late on the af­ter­noon of the fourth and fi­nal day of shoot­ing. The good stuff usu­ally hap­pens at the end. So if you’re de­cid­ing which of the 100 photos you just shot at the beach should go on Face­book, start at the last one and go back­wards.

in 1984, we were in Ja­maica, driv­ing to the lo­ca­tion on the coast, me in the front seat and Paulina Porizkova, who is as gor­geous a model who ever lived, sit­ting be­hind me. An­other swim­suit-is­sue shoot is min­utes away, and I wanted to study her face.Tough job, I know. But when I turned to look at her, I had a hard time be­cause she was read­ing a book pressed close, al­most to her nose. I said, “Paulina, have you thought of get­ting glasses?” She low­ered the book and said,“I don’t want to see ev­ery­thing.” I thought that was telling.

in 2015, i shot lexi thompson for a Golf Di­gest cover.We draped a towel over her shoul­ders, to sug­gest she’d just come from a work­out. It was only mildly provoca­tive, but still, I ad­mired her tremen­dously for kind of creep­ing up to the edge. Golf is the most con­ser­va­tive of all ma­jor sports, and push­ing the lim­its takes courage. Lexi is not a pro­fes­sional model, but she sure posed like one, ex­press­ing her­self with an ease far greater than I an­tic­i­pated.

michael jor­dan taught me how fame can close in on a per­son.We did two books and a lot of other pho­tog­ra­phy to­gether, so I was around him a lot.When he was with the Bulls, he needed his own dress­ing room. Ev­ery fa­mous per­son that came through Chicago wanted to meet him.When he went out, he al­ways built in 40 ex­tra min­utes to han­dle the au­to­graphs and re­quests to have pic­tures taken with him. Peo­ple shout­ing his name, crowd­ing in on him and want­ing to touch him . . . ter­ri­ble. You could see why Michael Jack­son, Elvis Pres­ley and so many oth­ers wound up with prob­lems.

michael be­came acutely aware of his en­vi­ron­ment at all times, like his whole head was a set of eye­balls.When we did the book Rare Air in 1993, there was a night in Mi­ami we were sup­posed to go out to din­ner. Michael was ex­hausted, ly­ing in the ho­tel room in

his sweats, lean­ing to­wards call­ing it off.Then he said,“Okay, we’re go­ing, but here’s the deal: no cam­eras, and you’re run­ning point.” He meant he wanted me to run in­ter­fer­ence, keep the peo­ple off. It was no easy job. I spent the night with Michael, Scottie Pip­pen and Ho­race Grant, shout­ing at peo­ple,“Not tonight!” It was ex­haust­ing. I was in awe of how Michael con­trolled his day-to-day life, the un­spo­ken rules he put in place to sur­vive. One of them was, you never lied to him.Any­one in his cir­cle who b.s.’d him was cut out im­me­di­ately and was gone for­ever, be­cause he didn’t have time for it.

still, i’d rather be michael than Tiger Woods.The level of fame is sim­i­lar, but the dif­fer­ence is, the ado­ra­tion for Michael made the loss of pri­vacy more tol­er­a­ble to him. He found a way to em­brace the at­ten­tion, while Tiger hates it, which only makes it worse. But I sym­pa­thise with Tiger be­cause his per­son­al­ity is dif­fer­ent. Not ev­ery­one is wired like Michael, or Arnold Palmer. Do you think Bubba Watson or Dustin John­son could han­dle be­ing closed in on like they were? No way – they aren’t cut out for it.

in 2000, Tiger was at his zenith, play­ing­wise. I had the idea I’d fol­low him at the WGC-Match Play at La Costa and try to re-cre­ate the fa­mous Hy Pe­skin shot of Ben Ho­gan hit­ting a 1-iron to the 72nd green at Me­rion at the 1950 US Open. I had to close to within sev­eral feet of Tiger, which did not go over very well with his cad­die, Steve Wil­liams.They didn’t know me at that point.Wil­liams is glar­ing at me and point­ing, ut­ter­ing some very choice swear words as kind of a warn­ing not to get too close or to snap my shut­ter at the wrong time. Fi­nally he walks up to me.

“Hey, mate, you ever shot a golf tour­na­ment be­fore?” he asks.“Yes, many,” I say.

With that, he strides away, the warn­ing very much in place.A month later, I went to Isle­worth in Florida to shoot an SI cover of Tiger. I in­tro­duce my­self to Tiger and say, “If I look fa­mil­iar, it’s be­cause I shot you at La Costa a while back. Did you no­tice me?”

“Ev­ery hole,” he says. He said noth­ing more about it, which meant, he more or less trusted me.We’ve got along ever since.

my fa­ther was a jazz mu­si­cian who for a time played with Benny Good­man. He as­so­ci­ated ev­ery­thing to sound. We’d be walk­ing down the street, and he’d stop and say,“Lis­ten to that,” and sure enough, there would be an un­usual sound com­ing from some­where. One time we passed a shoeshine stand, and we paused for a cou­ple of min­utes, lis­ten­ing to the rhyth­mic snap the at­ten­dant made with the towel. He passed that gift of ob­ser­va­tion to me, ex­cept it was with im­ages rather than sound. He gave it to me by ac­ci­dent. In 1959, he took me to a NewYork Giants foot­ball game atYan­kee Sta­dium. He’d given me a Pen­tax cam­era with a tele­photo lens.The im­ages I saw through the viewfinder were dif­fer­ent from what I could see through my eyes. I could con­trol that world. Ev­ery­thing I’ve seen since, I au­to­mat­i­cally put a pho­to­graphic com­po­si­tion to it.

felt fo­rum, new york, 1968. I was do­ing free­lance work for At­lantic Records at the time, pho­tograph­ing mu­si­cians in con­cert: Ja­nis Jo­plin, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and so on. That night I was shoot­ing Jimi Hen­drix, who clearly was wasted but was play­ing like you wouldn’t be­lieve. Sud­denly he stopped in mid-song. Look­ing right

at me, he slurred,“Ev­ery­one needs to turn off their flash­bulbs, or else I can’t con­tinue to sing.”At that mo­ment, I can’t say the fans were very en­am­oured with my art.

even with fa­mous peo­ple, there’s al­most al­ways an in.There was a time when Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar was get­ting a lot of hate mail and death threats af­ter a home he’d owned in Wash­ing­ton, DC, was the site of mur­ders com­mit­ted by a Mus­lim group. I was as­signed to go down and pho­to­graph Ka­reem for SI but knew he wasn’t look­ing for pub­lic­ity and wasn’t go­ing to let me in. Les McCann, a well-known jazzmu­si­cian friend of mine, knew that Ka­reem loved jazz and sug­gested I buy a few rare records and of­fer them to Ka­reem. Les also told me to tell Ka­reem that he’d sent me. I did that, and sure enough, Ka­reem let me in. Mu­sic is a great con­nec­tion to ath­letes.

in 1965, I was 22 years old and knew hardly any­thing about shoot­ing golf. But I get a call any­way to go to Lau­rel Val­ley Coun­try Club in Ligo­nier, Penn­syl­va­nia. My as­sign­ment there is to shoot Arnold Palmer with Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower. I’m stand­ing around with Arnold wait­ing for Ike, and there’s a de­lay.Arnold says,“Come with me.” I fol­low him into a room off the locker room where Arnold, need­ing to kill some time, ca­su­ally sits at a ta­ble with Jack Nick­laus.The two of them be­gin talk­ing.Arnold kind of for­gets I’m there.Al­most as an af­ter­thought, I start shoot­ing.The light is bad and noth­ing is set up, but I snap a cou­ple of rolls of film any­way.To­day, one of those pic­tures is by far the most well-known of the tens of thou­sands of golf pho­to­graphs I’ve shot over the past 60 years. I wouldn’t call that pho­to­graph an ac­ci­dent, but cer­tainly it came out of nowhere. Some­times it hap­pens like that. arnold was the per­fect em­bod­i­ment of what a hu­man be­ing should be. He treated ev­ery per­son ex­actly the same: with dig­nity. Ev­ery per­son wants to feel like they mat­ter, that they have worth.Arnold sensed how im­por­tant it was, and he gave you that. He also wanted it for him­self.When you saw Arnold in pho­to­graphs and on TV, you saw a man fight­ing not just to win, but to earn his dig­nity, like we all do.That was his charisma.

jack nick­laus was a killer. Cov­er­ing so many sports for so long, I recog­nised a few ath­letes who truly un­der­stood the im­por­tance of win­ning. Michael Jor­dan, Bill Rus­sell,Wayne Gret­zky – win­ning was much more than a punch line.Their skills were awe­some, but they sup­ple­mented them with their rep­u­ta­tions for be­ing mer­ci­less.They wanted to in­tim­i­date and use fear to their ad­van­tage. Jack was ex­pert at that. His com­pet­i­tive­ness was masked by the niceties of golf – the hand­shakes, waves to the gallery and so on. He played within those pa­ram­e­ters, but at heart he was a killer.You ever see video of Jack screw­ing around, hit­ting trick shots and goof­ing off? No, be­cause it doesn’t ex­ist. He played to win – pe­riod. pho­tog­ra­phy is in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive. Take some­one like Neil Leifer, one of the great sports pho­tog­ra­phers who ever lived and for a long time one of my col­leagues at Sports Il­lus­trated. I al­ways felt like I was com­pet­ing with Neil, be­cause we wanted the same things: cov­ers, im­por­tant as­sign­ments, open­ing spreads.We had dif­fer­ent work­ing styles, Neil al­ways highly pre­pared, me much looser. He’d ar­rive for a foot­ball game sev­eral hours be­fore kick­off, while I might ar­rive only an hour early. But the qual­ity of Neil’s work – his pho­to­graph of Muham­mad Ali stand­ing over Sonny Lis­ton af­ter knock­ing him out is the great­est sports pho­to­graph of all time – made me work harder and pushed me to im­prove. Just as the Rolling Stones drove the Bea­tles to be bet­ter and vice versa, Neil brought out the best in me. It wasn’t bad for Sports Il­lus­trated, ei­ther.

in 1980, I was as­signed to work at a party at Lake Placid on the eve of the Win­ter Olympics. I no­ticed Bill Ep­pridge, who is best known for tak­ing the in­cred­i­ble pho­to­graph of the Robert Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion in 1968, was also there. He was dressed in Army cam­ou­flage, which made no sense to me.When I asked him why, he said,

“Be­cause no one will look at me.” Since then, when shoot­ing pub­licly I’ve made a point of try­ing to be the most non­de­script per­son in the room.

on satur­day at the 1968 US Open at Oak Hill, I made the mis­take of step­ping into a bunker to get a pho­to­graph.To Joe Dey, the USGA’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and my neme­sis al­ready for sins such as ven­tur­ing too far in­side the ropes, this was the last straw. He took away my cre­den­tial and had me thrown off the grounds. It was trau­matic for me, like a sol­dier hav­ing the epaulets torn from his uni­form. It was a huge prob­lem be­cause I needed to be there on Sun­day, and now I can’t work. My bosses in­ter­vened, and the next morn­ing I was or­dered to Joe Dey’s of­fice in the club­house to is­sue an apol­ogy. He was a scary guy, the ul­ti­mate author­ity fig­ure known for wear­ing a dark wool blazer in even the hottest weather. He’d had a health episode that caused one of his eyes to droop, which gave him a de­monic look as he lec­tured me in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms. I apol­o­gised, but it wasn’t the last time I pushed the bound­aries. My feel­ing was, to get the best pho­to­graph, you some­times have to risk get­ting thrown out.

from 1986 to 1990, I did a lot of work for Camel cig­a­rettes, through McCann Erick­son, the fa­mous ad agency you saw on “Mad Men.” I made a lot of money there. One of the projects could only be shot in the re­mote jun­gles of the Philip­pines, for the broadleaf ba­nana and co­coa palms they wanted to show. I thought it was go­ing to be a trop­i­cal par­adise, but it turned out to be hell. Six weeks of heat, rain, snakes, bore­dom and bit­ing in­sects.When I got home, I felt like I’d been repa­tri­ated. ● ●●

lee trevino, you couldn’t take a bad pic­ture of him.The pho­to­graph of him wear­ing a pith hel­met, hold­ing a snake in one hand and a hatchet in the other shortly be­fore he won the 1971 US Open at Me­rion, I shot that. More than 40 years later, I shot him pos­ing with a snake for Golf Di­gest. Over the years, Lee al­ways recog­nised me in the gallery, used me as his straight man as he wise­cracked with the gal­leries. “Look at the long-haired pho­tog­ra­pher,” he’d say.“I’ll bet he smoked a pound of mar­i­juana last night.”The gallery would roar, then Lee would look at me and wink.We both un­der­stood it was all about en­ter­tain­ment.

lee was a hard worker. It seemed like he never took a week off.At the end of that big 1971 sea­son, SI named him Sports­man of the Year and sent me to Dal­las to shoot him for the cover. Lee in­vited me over to Thanks­giv­ing din­ner at his house.We ate a huge din­ner, then went to his screened-in porch to shoot the por­trait. Shortly af­ter we started, I looked through the viewfinder and saw that Lee was nod­ding off. He was that ex­hausted. He’s one of two guys who fell asleep on me.

when i look at the pace kept by Jor­dan Spi­eth, Rickie Fowler and the rest, I don’t see how they can last 10 years. The pres­sures are so much more in­tense than in the old days. Spon­sors and me­dia never let up.The prac­tice and train­ing are so gru­el­ing.The re­cov­ery pe­ri­ods, the time needed to rest the brain, are too short. I’m not an ex­pert at golf, but I’ve wit­nessed the lives of ath­letes up close for six decades now. One thing I can say for sure is, Jack Nick­laus’ record of 18 pro­fes­sional ma­jors will never be bro­ken and prob­a­bly won’t even be ap­proached.

so who’s still out there? Tiger Woods, ob­vi­ously.As many times as I’ve pho­tographed him, some­thing has al­ways gone miss­ing.The walls he cre­ated out of ne­ces­sity, the com­plex­ity of be­ing him, have al­ways come across in the pho­to­graphs. One day I hope to look through my viewfinder and see in Tiger’s eyes a man who fi­nally is at ease about try­ing to con­nect with us.There’s so much more beauty in there. But it’s a tough get.






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