Adam Rippon photographed by Mark Seliger
Crystal Dunn photographed by Marcus Smith
ESPN The Magazine: The Body Issue
Creative Director: Chin Wang
Director of Photography, Print + Digital: Tim Rasmussen
Director of Photography, ESPN The Magazine: Karen Frank
Deputy Photo Editors: Kristen Geisler, Jim Surber
Senior Photo Editors: Nick Galac
Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Associate Art Director: Linda Pouder
Heidi: This is a moment the industry looks forward too, how long does this issue take to plan?
Karen: The Body Issue is almost a year-round project. Discussions about athletes begin happening almost immediately after the issue closes in June. However, assigning and shooting typically start in January, so you could say it’s about six months of serious production.
Was it a conscious choice to have 5 men / 5 women for the cover?
Since the beginning we’ve had multiple covers for the issue. In past years, we’ve had as many as 9 covers and we joked at the beginning of the year that we’d do 10 for 10. We actually never have a set number of covers for the issue, so we approach every shoot as if it could be a cover. At the end of shooting, we take a look at what we have and propose any images we feel strongly about as potential covers. The fact that it came down to an almost even number of men and women (6 men, 5 women) was a really nice coincidence.
Seeing that it’s the 10th year of your annual body issue, what did you learn about the process this year?
This is the 10th year, and we wanted to mark the milestone in a special way. Several weeks before the issue went live, we released our newly designed Body Issue Archive, a comprehensive collection of every shoot we’ve done since 2009. For that project, we spent time going back through all the shoots, searching for images we may have overlooked in our initial edits. Many new, never-before-seen-images are included. The site has a fantastic search engine; you can search by year, by sport, by name, and see everything here
We also launched a premium digital Body 2018 experience Going back through all the years of Body was a great exercise. I could see how the photography had evolved from the beginning, where the shoots were much more static and carefully posed, to the place where we are now creating very active and dynamic images
How did you decide what image was environmental and what was studio?
Once we know which athletes have signed on to shoot Body, we do a lot of research about who they are and their particular sport and we begin to imagine how and where we’d like to photograph them. When we have the photographer assigned to the shoot, we present them with the information we’ve gathered and get their feedback and their ideas about how they’d like to approach the shoot. For a lot of the shoots, we are able to shoot options that are both studio AND environmental. That was true this year with our shoots of Jessie Diggins, Jerry Rice, Lauren Chamberlain, and Megan Rapinoe + Sue Bird.
How many different photographers were involved in this issue for the series?
We had just come off a year (2017 issue) where we had, for the first time, made a conscious decision to hire a different photographer for every shoot. Many of those photographers were new to the Body issue. In past years, we’d assigned a wide roster of photographers, but several photographers would shoot 2, or sometimes 3 athletes per issue. We loved the energy that hiring new photographers who had different and diverse approaches to shooting Body brought to the portfolio. We wanted to continue that for our 2018 issue but also, knowing that this was an anniversary issue, we wanted to include some of the photographers who had created so many iconic images for the issue over the years. We ended up with a roster of 6 photographers new to the project: Hana Asano, Kurt Iswarienko, Nick Laham, Radka Leitmeritz, Dina Litovsky, and Dana Scruggs; and 9 photographers who had previously shot for Body: Kwaku Alston, Marcus Eriksson, Peter Hapak, Sophy Holland, Martin Schoeller, Mark Seliger, Carlos Serrao, Peggy Sirota, and Marcus Smith.