Neil Leifer returns...this time it's personal!

He came back! Yes that's right...Neil Leifer returned to our Space and gave an unprecedented 2nd IRIS Nights lecture!

(photo © Damon Webster)

Neil is truly a one-of-a-kind photographer. His one-of-a-kind work is on display at the Space through March 14. Don't miss it if you haven't seen it yet! Neil's so "one-of-a-kind" that we asked him to come back and offer a second lecture.

I love this pic...so Hitchcock!

Neil's lecture was an all new look at the subject of Football - the images coming from his insta-classic Taschen book "Guts & Glory: Golden Age of American Football," which he was very happy to show and tell us about.

If you have never had the opportunity to hear Neil Leifer speak you have to add this to your bucket list. His funny, fact-filled forays into the history of modern sports are truly unique.

Of course every good Neil Leifer lecture starts with ... well ... NEIL!...and no one can talk about the brash young teenage photographer breaking onto the scene like Neil can. Here he is facing off with his own history:

(photo © Damon Webster)

...and here he's consulting his current favorite authority on the subject...

As always, his images are historic, innovative and - at times - humorous!

Does ANYONE remember when football cheerleaders looked like this?

Amazing. For a man who has witnessed and participated in over 5 decades of sports history,

...Neil remains ever-grateful, ever-enthusiastic, ever-engaging and ever-entertaining about his life.

Thank you once again Mr. Leifer for another wonderful night!

(All photos © Unique for the Space except where noted)

Jimmy Chin is TOO Nice!

Jimmy Chin came to the Space to offer an IRIS Nights Lecture about his unique form of sports photography. What's so unusual about Jimmy's work you might ask? First of all he comes off as the nicest most unassuming guy you could ever meet.

He's almost cartoon character cute with an ever-present smile and a talent for understatement that would be hard to beat.

You would never guess by looking at him that he has climbed to the top of Mt. Everest a few times...and skied down from the top! Yes - this is him dutifully recording his friends walking across a ridge so that they could get to the best face to ski down. That little thing popping up from the ridge all the way to the right is a human being.

Jimmy said "we encountered a few minor obstacles getting across..." which meant that they had to rappel down one side of a gap in the ridge more than 40 feet until they could get the right angle to SWING to the other side of the gap - AT 28,000+ FEET!!!! - where they could keep creeping along until they got to this side:

Then they skied down at a descent angle of more than 50 degrees.

The whole time he described this as is it were the most normal thing in the world. Or should I say the most normal thing at the TOP of the world.

And here's an intimate little portrait of the top of the world. The weather gets a little weird 5 miles up - who knew?

Can you tell what this is? Sure! Just a person walking across some rickety ladders strapped to each other to form a rickety bridge that I wouldn't walk across at 10 feet no less 28,000.

But THAT is what these crazy mountain people do!


A couple of Jimmy's mountain goat friends came to lecture to show support, including Emile Hirsch. Back in January Jimmy led a weeklong all-star Summit on the Summit expedition up Mount Kilimanjaro to bring awareness to the climate summit. Emile joined as did Jessica Biel, Lupe Fiasco, Isabel Lucas and Elizabeth Gore.

That kind of activism takes dedication.


Emile was kind enough to pose afterwards with his mountain mentor Jimmy.

So that was what Jimmy and Emile did on their Winter vacation...while I caught up on my Tivo'd episodes of Heroes.

Throwdown at the Space!


When Laila Ali took the podium at the Space yesterday with her favorite photographer Mikki Willis, many of us were already expecting a brazen and strong voice from the reigning champion of women's middleweight boxing and daughter of the most famous boxer ever - Muhammad Ali.


Without a doubt Laila Ali lived up to the hype.


Laila was a powerful presence.


Mikki quizzed her on her boxing career and ran a slideshow of his work including some iconic portraits of her.

What we didn't expect was for Ali to be called out by a female audience member, amateur boxer Miss Tami, and challenged to a match to defend her undefeated title. During the Q & A following the lecture, Miss Tami approached the podium and faced Ali in a boxing stare down, "calling her out in front of everyone."

Laila surprised everyone by calling Miss Tami up to compare builds, reach, and hand-sizes. The audience was thrilled even as Staff pondered whether or not the situation was going to require a call to security.

It was clear, even before a smile broke free from them both, that the fearless mother, wife and fighter Laila Ali had no need for any guard or security.


Although Miss Tami or shall we call her Miss T. didn't get Ali to agree to a bout in the ring, her encounter might just develop into a more amiable relationship with one of the most inspirational female boxers today.


That Mikki Willis was personally selected by Laila Ali to discuss her life and career in front of an audience at the Space came as no surprise.

Their understanding of social responsibility and commitment to improving the lives of others is a common thread demonstrated in their work and emerged as the focus of the lecture.


The bulk of Mikki's questions turned the spotlight on Ali and were centered on her experiences and ideals rather than the intricacies of each photograph he captured of her,


but the discussion between the two friends still embodied the framework of Sports photography, the essential moments and people of sports history as captured by the photographer.

You tell us: How would you define Sports Photography?

(All photos © Unique for the Space)

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