I'm not stating opinions here, folks. It's the truth. There aren't many reasons to consider purchasing a magazine in this digital computerized age, but this is one of the few. Since it's debut seven years ago, this issue is consistently one of the most anticipated issues of the year.
If you're not familiar with the issue, it's an annual issue of ESPN the Magazine's where they take top athlete's and have them pose nude doing what they are best at. The video embedded features a behind the scenes look at Chantae McMilan, a world class heptathlete who most famously finished third in the US Olympic trials for the 2012 Olympics. The video chosen is only one of many featuring all different kinds of athletes. Some of the other athletes chosen include US Rugby Capitan, Todd Clever, Bryce Harper, Kevin Love, field hockey player, Paige Selenski, US Gold Medalist, Aly Raisman, and many more.
The component that most staggers me with this issue is ESPN's lack of sensationalism. It's brilliant. They could have chosen a bunch of models, put them on a beach half naked, and sold millions of copies. But they went above that. Forget what everyone else is doing. Forget sexy. Let's showcase the human body at it's absolute physical prime. Let's take world class athletes and have them do what they are best at and capture it. The athlete's they choose aren't necessarily the best looking athletes, but they're always at the top of their sport. For example, last year one of the cover models was a categorically overweight baseball player named Prince Fielder. His weight isn't the point. He's one of the most dominant players in the sport. That's the point.
The photos themselves are tastefully done. ESPN stress that it's not porn, and was never meant to be. As photographers, we certainly understand the difference between porn and tasteful nude art. No private areas are in any of the photos. The issue is about the art of a world class athlete's body in its prime.
The magazine hits stands on July 10th. For many more photos and information, please visit ESPN's page specifically for this issue. Below are some early behind the scenes photos and the six covers for 2015.