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|| News Item: Posted 2005-06-05

Hy Peskin: The Ultimate Enigma in Sports Photography
Legendary Sports Illustrated staff photographer dies at 89

By Andy Hayt

Photo by Hy Peskin

Photo by Hy Peskin
Editor's note: Hy Peskin, Sports Illustrated's first staff photographer and one of the icons of the industry, died Friday, June 3, 2005 in Israel. He was 89 years old. Longtime friend and former Sports Illustrated staff photographer Andy Hayt shares his thoughts about Peskin.

Hy Peskin was the ultimate enigma in Sports Photography. During the last few years' photo editors rediscovered this pioneer in our industry. Mr. Peskin changed his name after leaving the photography profession to Brian Blaine Reynolds.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Reynolds during my sophomore year of high school. His son Wayne was one of my best friends, and probably did more to pique my curiosity about shooting sports then anyone in my career. Wayne, my brother Jon and I enjoyed racing dirt bikes, and taking pictures. When I was invited to the Reynolds home in La Jolla, Cailf. I really had no idea who this man was that was Wayne's father. He had successfully started a foundation called the American Academy of Achievement. This foundation, which still exists today, gathered the finest High School students in the nation to enjoy a symposium weekend where they would meet the finest and brightest men and women from both the US and around the World.

Needless to say, Mr. Reynolds was quite an interesting individual. He had his three sons, Ron, Evan and Wayne all working for him in one capacity or another. As our friendship developed Wayne revealed to me about his fathers past at Sports Illustrated, LIFE and The Saturday Evening Post. All of Mr. Reynolds sons were highly accomplished photographers. Evan had done everything from working at The Houston Post, to shooting assignments for Sports Illustrated. Wayne had also shot numerous assignments for Sports Illustrated for both George Bloodgood and John Dominis (directors of photography). All of this family had incredible reflexes and could shoot the lights out on any given play. Mr. Reynolds schooled them all in how to shoot peak action both outdoors and on strobes. I remember Wayne once returning home from a Chargers game when he was sixteen and getting an earful from his Dad for only shooting sixteen rolls of film. Mr. Reynolds felt that anything less then twenty-five rolls was completely unacceptable for a photographer to turn in for a Sports Illustrated assignment.

I found it rather ironic and mystifying that here was this incredible photographer who was no longer shooting pictures. The more I got to know the family, and Mr. Reynolds, the more I understood that photography was not a large enough canvass for this man. He had contacts, he knew how to work the room, and he knew how to use every asset in his arsenal. This was a man who came from an extremely humble background in New York, and had himself lived the American Dream.

Photo by Hy Peskin

Photo by Hy Peskin
I fell out of touch with the Reynolds after high school, and it was at the Super bowl in San Diego (Denver vs. Washington, January 1988) where I reconnected with Mr. Reynolds. On this rare occasion he was shooting for Sports Illustrated along with the rest of the crew. He was Hy Peskin then, and very jovial in his own way. I had not seen him or Wayne in almost 15 years. He was quite pleased that I had made it to Sports Illustrated as a staff photographer. He joked that I had obviously learned nothing from him, in that I had pursued a career in photography instead of one that required the use of my intelligence.

I always found it amazing that this was the man who perfected so many advancements in the use of strobes, long lens and peak action photography, and yet he never wanted to talk about any of his accomplishments. Here was a man who taught Frank Sinatra to shoot pictures, and was a close friend of the Kennedy family, and yet never a peep about anything. He had moved on in life both to provide security for his family and his appetite for success outside of journalism.

Last year I was in contact with Wayne Reynolds, who along with his wife Catherine Reynolds had grown the American Academy of Achievement into one of the major gatherings of the great minds of our time. I was trying to track down his Dad for a photo project and was having a hard time finding him. Wayne tipped me off that his Dad was once again living his life in his own unique way. Somehow this was the way it should end with Mr. Reynolds, different, unusual and always entertaining.

My condolences to Mrs. Brian Blaine Reynolds, Wayne and Catherine Reynolds, Evan Reynolds and Ron Reynolds. Your Dad was one of a kind.

Peskin is also survived by his second wife Adriana Reynolds and their sons Preston B. Reynolds and Brian Jeremy Reynolds.

To see an online tribute to Hy Peskin visit this link:

(Andy Hayt is the Director of Photography for The San Diego Union Tribune.)

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