In this 2017 article about Walter Iooss written by Jamie Brisick of readymag.com writes:
"Steve Fine, Sports Illustrated’s director of photography, calls Walter Iooss the foremost sports photographer of his generation, “a fixture in American journalism to a degree I think people who see the cover of Sports Illustrated don’t know. He’s also been called “the poet laureate of sports.”'
In the interview Brisick describes Iooss:
"Iooss in person exudes the same stuff that oozes from his photos: he has a just-blown-in-with-the-wind aura, he’s loose and lean, he’s full of stories.
'I have this connection with the athlete. My old man was a musician. I heard musicians talk. There’s a certain banter; there’s a certain way they talk. I feel I can speak to almost any athlete and engage them within seconds because I understand it. I believe growing up in East Orange, New Jersey in a community that was very integrated is part of it. My high school was like ‘The Sopranos’ meets ‘Shaft.’ I was honorary Italian and honorary Soul Brother.'"
When asked what got him really serious about photography, he tells the story:
“'I can remember it to the day: November 8, 1959. My father had bought season tickets to the New York Giants, and it was six games at home at that point. And he always liked photography, he bought an Asahi Pentax and a 300mm/F4 lens, and he’d sit in the stands and he’d take pictures. So on week three I finally took a few pictures from the stands. We went back to East Orange, processed the roll of film in the closet, and we held it up to the light. And as my former managing editor said, ‘My future was unlocked.’
That summer Iooss took photography classes in New York. He put what he learned into practice. Two weeks after graduating high school, Sports Illustrated gave him his first paid assignment. Off he went on what would swiftly become a global odyssey."