Picture, story | In the clouds over “Air Jordan”

From the galaxy of photos taken from the march Michael JordanThis is without a doubt one of the most original. Air Jordan from above, you should have thought about it. It was also necessary to have the technical means to do so. Flying a few meters above the height of a flying man is not easy. However, photographer Walter Eos Jr. launched this challenge in July 1987.

This New York school-trained American has been photographing sporting events since the age of 15 and has just teamed up with a German sports drinks brand for an advertisement. ” They had the idea of ​​taking a tennis player and putting him on a red clay court and photographing him serving from the sky to catch the shadow. I thought this was a hell of a idea ”, recalls the photographer (who did not respond to our requests) for the column ‘My Best Shot’ for The Guardian.

Reproduce the idea, yes. But for which broker? Fortunately, soon after, Sports Illustrated, who he was working with, called him to ask him to go and shoot Michael Jordan for the magazine. Here is the appropriate support. The direction of the small town of Leslie, located on the outskirts of Chicago, where the Bulls star organizes a camp for children.

Basket lowered by 15 cm

The 23-year-old, who just won his first league title (37 points on average!), also won his first dunk a few months ago. Before achieving the double the following year after a legendary duel against Dominic Wilkins. Therefore, his reputation as a fierce profanity is already well established.

On the day of filming, after the first day of taking selfies with his “body”, Walter Eos Jr. faces a dilemma: What outfit will the triple star wear? ” My assistants painted one area of ​​this giant parking lot blue and the other red. If he had been wearing his white uniform, we would have gone to Red Field and this photo would have been called “The Red Dunk”. Michael Jordan finally showed up in his team’s red shirt away. So we are entitled to a “blue dunk”.

Another difficulty is finding a real NBA basket. With a stationary basket that won’t work, you need one on wheels. ” But we didn’t find anything in Chicago! I couldn’t believe it. We had to ship it from St. Louis (Missouri), “Describes a photographer who is clearly equipping himself with a machine to get his shooting angle. Important accuracy, the basket in question has been voluntarily lowered by 15 cm. It is intended for this type of dark image.” It’s much easier this way ”, notes the specialist, and less stressful for the model who will still be jumping towards the circle 15 times for this photo.

rotating picture

Over time, Walter Eos Jr. will realize that this number of dive requests is of significance to the bull star. ” I was like, “We have Gatorade today and they need 15 dives.” And he said, Walter, I’ll give you three. “I can’t work with three!” We ended up agreeing to eight. »

Being a good manager is key in this type of exercise with such personalities. “ The trick to portraying sports stars is to talk to them as a coach. They are so used to being told what to do and knowing nothing about photography, they need guidance. You don’t have much time and they appreciate not wasting their time. “Recalls the 79-year-old who witnessed his goal Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, Chris Evert, Joe Montana, Arnold Palmer…

The day before the shooting, everything is checked, down to the smallest detail, including in terms of timing. The photo can only be taken between 2 PM and 3 PM, otherwise the player’s shadow will be too long. The shade captured last fits perfectly with the graceful “Air Jordan” gesture. The angle of the image creates a captivating pseudo-mirror effect and multiplies the energy and movement of this immersion. This drop shadow also makes it possible to occupy the space near the trigger. Because yes, this photo is enough to make you dizzy.

Retouch or not?

I had no idea what I picked up that daycontinues Walter Iooss Jr. Originally I chose another photo from the session, but my photo editor preferred this photo which was probably 1/100th of a second later. eHe had a little more dynamic. In the upper left corner of the original, there was a red terrain border, so I had to crop or retouch it. There is also this crack in the concrete in the middle, should I remove it or not? I was like, You know what? It is part of the picture. »

This sequence also allowed him to get acquainted with the Bulls player, with whom he produced the book “Rare Air”, selling 800,000 copies. Photographer A . describes A great and very smart person “Which on an athletic level,” He was unparalleled in the history of sports “A star is in constant demand as well.” After the Chicago Bulls it was like following the Rolling Stones. »

But when we took this photo, I had no idea he would become such a legend. It was popular in 1987, but it wasn’t as popular as it became. He once said he thought I couldn’t take a bad picture. But the truth is, no one can take a bad picture of Michael Jordan Beautiful ends Walter Eos Jr.

image credit: Walter Eos Jr. / The Bruce Silverstein Gallery

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