While most of the magazine publishing industry is in a tail spin, Sports Illustrated has bucked that trend with their annual swimsuit edition. Started in 1964 as just a few pages in the February issue of SI, the swimsuit edition now generates an estimated $3 million in annual revenue for owner Time Warner.
Part of the reason for this success is that SI has built an entire enterprise around the swimsuit issue, including videos, calenders, and books.
Their latest book offering, Swimsuit Portfolio: Paradise Found, came out this month. Spend just a minute thumbing through the book and you’ll see why the SI swimwear enterprise is so successful. The photography is absolutely stunning. Yeah, there are lots of pretty girls, but it really goes beyond that. The lighting and posing and locations are all amazing.
Most chapters begin with a candid stunning black and white photo of a model. A previous SI Portfolio book uses self-portraits the models shot using point-and-shoot cameras. I kind of miss those photos since it’s fun to get a sense of how the models view themselves. But the b&w portraits are really fabulous too.
Where SI really hits a homerun are the interviews with the photographers and models about working with each other. Of course they never say anything bad, but it still gives an inside glimpse at how the world’s most famous swimwear models and photographers work together. And as a photographer, I LOVE the behind the scenes photos especially the ones showing lighting set-ups!
There are so many amazing photos in this book it’s tough to narrow down to just a couple for this review. But my absolute favorite is a Walter Iooss Jr photo of model Brooklyn Decker (pictured above). The styling, the lighting, the location, and of course, the model all work together to create absolute perfection. And if there’s anyone I want to be when I grow up, it’s Walter Iooss Jr. He’s been shooting for the SI swimwear issue since 1972! His work is just stunning.
The other photographers featured are pretty amazing too — Raphael Mazzucco shoots for Victoria’s Secret, Guess?, and Ralph Lauren in addition to the SI swimsuit issue. Walter Chin shoots for Italian Vogue, French Elle, and L’Uomo Vogue among other magazines!
In other words, this book features work by the absolute best in the industry and it shows. The photos are gorgeous!