Neil Leifer

Neil Leifer Biography American sports photographer Neil Leifer was known for taking risks. Some of his most well-known photographs include those of Muhammad Ali and for the 1966 heavyweight title fight between Ali and Cleveland Williams Leifer placed his camera in the rafters of the Houston Astrodome in order to get a shot of the ring when the victor knocked out his competition. This photograph of Ali and a defeated Williams has been viewed by millions and was voted the greatest sport photo ever by The Observer. He has photographed Muhammad Ali on almost 60 different occasions. Leifer’s photographic career has spanned over 50 years since becoming a professional photographer while still in his teens. Neil Leifer was born in 1942 and grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. Leifer was introduced to photography at the age of thirteen through the Henry Street Settlement House. Leifer maintained odd jobs such a shining shoes and delivering sandwiches when he eventually he saved enough money to buy his first camera. As a young and ambitious photographer Leifer gained free access to New York Giants games by pushing the wheelchairs of handicapped patrons into the stadium. After he was in he would position himself on the field with the rest of the photographers. Neil Leifer eventually became a staff photographer for Sports Illustrated before leaving in 1978 to become a staffer for Time magazine. In 1988 he was appointed contributing photographer at LIFE magazine and spent the next couple of years dividing his time between Time and LIFE. When Leifer left Time in 1990, his photographs had appeared on over 200 Sports Illustrated, Time and People covers. At that point he was one of the most ever published of one photographer’s work in Time Inc. history. Leifer is the 2006 recipient of the Lucie Award for Achievement in Sports Photography and in 2008 he was honored for his outstanding contribution for Time Inc. journalism with The Britton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award. Leifer has published 16 books, 9 of which have been collections of his sports photographs. Sports, in his 1978 Abrams book, is considered by many to be the quintessential sports photography book. His two most recent books, Ballet in the Dirtt and Guts and Glory- both published by TASCHEN, showcase the very best of Liefer’s professional baseball and football photographs.

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