Legendary Model Christie Brinkley Interviews Legendary Lensman Walter Iooss

The Model and Muse Interviews the Lensman

It’s not often that you get to read—let alone hear—a casual conversation between the beautiful muse, and the well-celebrated photographer. One might even argue that the conversation is impossibly nonverbal—communicated in a creative vernacular only understood by those leading the creation. What you’ll find below is even more than that— a flowing chat between two of our favorite people, that have traveled to some of the most beautiful corners of the Earth and while there, created + captured an enjoyably recognizable body of work, as well as become lifelong friends throughout the journey and process itself.

Christie Brinkley: You’ve been to the most beautiful places in the world. I know because I’ve been to a few of them with you—Bahia, Seychelles, Mexico—on our trips for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. So how did you decide to make Montauk your home? And how many years have you been lucky enough to have your gorgeous water views in Montauk? And hey, was that you I saw getting barreled at Ditch?

Walter Iooss: Eva and I came here for a weekend in 1977. We came back a week later and bought a small cottage on Old West Lake Drive. Our first son, Christian, was a baby, and we would stay there until it got too cold in the house, due to the minimal heat. We built our home in the cliffs in 1982. Every minute there is special. Christian also now has a home for his family here. The love affair with Montauk continues.


Photo provided by Walter.

CB: My first ever photo shoot for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit was when I was 21, and it was with you. We were at the president of Mexico’s private home in Cancun. I was bright pink from a sunburn with a Parisienne permanent, remember that? Since then, we’ve done dozens of shoots together. What was your favorite shoot and why?

WI: I remember our first shot like it was yesterday. You had a head full of curls, but my favorite was in the Seychelles. I remember us looking at a globe, realizing that we were halfway around the world. Our trip to Bird Island, the beach huts we stayed at in Praslin, that almost flooded the first night from the high tide.

CB: What are your favorite three accounts on Instagram to follow… apart from mine, ha!

WI: Outside of any Brinkley or Iooss accounts, I like Gary Hershorn, Eric Mencher and Chris Burkhardt.

Best advice to give our sons and grandchildren is to treat people with respect, and stay in focus.

CB: Any models that you have yet to shoot that you’d love to get in front of your lens? You know my daughter, Sailor, is with IMG (hint, hint).

WI: Obviously any Brinkley or Iooss women are all #1s! So I would settle for the actress Margot Robbie.

CB: Speaking of Sports Illustrated, what’s your favorite sport to shoot, and which do you love to play? Have you ever played a game against a SI cover subject? Speaking of which, I bet I could beat you in tennis!

WI: I have, not against a Brinkley, but with Björn Borg! We played as a doubles team against the #1 and #2 players in Antiqua. We won 6-2, 6-2. He left me a note the next day saying,”Thanks for carrying me in the match. Your friend, Bjorn.” Greatest day of my athletic life. Also played against Chris Evert and her sister, and was tortured by them on clay. I got into a rally with her (she was toying with me) and I started to think, “What the hell am I doing out here?” I could never out hit Chrissie.


Photo provided by Walter.

CB: If you could have traded in your life for being one of the most celebrated photographers over the last four decades for being a superstar in any other occupation… if you could swap your abilities, what would it be and why?

WI: I would love to be a great classical piano player. To just once be able to play Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto like the great Glenn Gould, and feel every note through your fingers like an electric current.

CB: Who are easier to work with—the best supermodels or the best athletes in the world?

WI: You can’t go wrong with either. Brinkley or Jordan? The two best! The greats in both professions have gifts for what they do. The one great difference with the swimsuit shoots were that you had the best crew, models, locations and a chance to take a great picture every sunrise and sunset daily!

CB: Are you still keeping your colorfully, rad journals up to date? Who gets more wall space in your home—your wife’s beautiful paintings? Or your photographs?

WI: I am still doing my diaries. I finish each one in late April of the following year, before moving back to Montauk, from Key Biscayne. It’s good to have a deadline.


Photo provided by Walter.

Eva has her own studio with all her beautiful work up there. Actually not that many of my photographs are hanging, but lots of great photographers’ work that I never tire of seeing.

CB: Best advice you could give both your sons?

WI: Best advice to give our sons and grandchildren is to treat people with respect, and stay in focus.

As featured in Whalebone’s tenth issue, the Interview Issue. Keep up with Christie Brinkley and Sir Iooss as they create and feature more of their respective work on their visually-applaudable Instagrams. Thank you guys!