Neil Liefer has had an accomplished and highly rewarding career in photography. It has spanned over 50 years and included major moments in sports caught with his lens.
Beginning in 1960, his pictures regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including the Saturday Evening Post, Look, LIFE, Newsweek, Time and, most often, Sports Illustrated. His career spanned freelance to staff photographer roles with Sports Illustrated, Time Inc and LIFE. When Leifer left Time Inc. in 1990, his photographs had appeared on over 200 Sports Illustrated, Time, and People covers—at that point, the most ever published of one photographer’s work in Time Inc. history.
Leifer's contributions to photography have been recognized with various awards and over 15 books. Nine of his titles focused on Sports photography and his 1978 tome, "Sports" published by Abrams continues to be regarded as the "gold standard" for sports books. In 2006, Neil became the recipient of the prestigious Lucie Award for Achievement in Sports Photography. In 2008 he was honored for his outstanding contribution to Time Inc. journalism with The Britton Hadden Lifetime Achievement Award.
One of Leifer's life changing photographs was his single frame shot of Muhammad Ali's 1st round knock out of Sonny Liston. While many photographers surrounded the bout, it was Neil who captured the energy and intensity of the sport's greatest. Since that fateful frame, Neil Leifer has traveled all over the world on sports assignments.
These journeys included 16 Olympic Games (7 winter and 9 summer), 4 FIFA World Cups, 15 Kentucky Derbies, countless World Series games, the first 12 Super Bowls and every important heavyweight title fight since Ingemar Johansson beat Floyd Patterson in 1959.
He has photographed his favorite subject, Muhammad Ali, on almost 60 different occasions—covering his biggest fights and over 30 one-on-one studio sessions.