Thursday, August 16, 2012

Muhammad Ali: Still The Greatest as photographed by Neil Leifer


While the 2012 London Olympics may be over, that doesn't mean that the world should stop celebrating some of the greatest sports photographs in history. Here's one of the best images in sports photography, and probably in all of 20th century photojournalism: Neil Leifer's overhead photograph of Muhammad Ali raising both hands in victory as the defeated Cleveland Williams sprawls unconscious on the ring at their Houston bout in 1966.

Here's how sports photographer Neil Leifer recalls how he made this once-in-a-lifetime shot:

"I think this is the best picture I ever made. It's the only picture of mine that I have in my home. 

I could go on for a long time about the technical aspects of the shot, how I studied the Astrodome, planned the photo for weeks before the fight, pictured the shot in my head, rigged up the remote trigger that I used to get the shot from above while I was physically down at ringside shooting the fight — but what makes this so special to me is that it's as close as I've ever gotten to a perfect shot. 

Ali, Williams, the referee, the reporters, the symmetry, the drama — it's the one photograph I've taken where, looking back, I'd change nothing." (Image and text taken from TIME's Lightbox website).

There's another great photograph and story about Muhammad Ali and Neil Leifer over on this older post. The photographer's works are collected in A Year in Sports: From the Rose Bowl to Figure Skating, The Best of Leifer and Neil Leifer: Ballet in the Dirt: The Golden Age of Baseball.

6 comments:

Ray Rousell said...

What a fantastic shot!

D4 said...

That is an AMAZING shot! I feel bad for only just having seen it now. It's inspiring even!

The Angry Lurker said...

That is one of the greatest pictures.....ever!

Fang said...

Looks amazing. Very precisely centered, as well! Very good shot!

Dale Janeé said...

Wow, this is so cool and very interesting reading his description

~Dale
http://www.savvyspice.com/

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Can't believe I've never seen this shot before. It is perfect.

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