For more from the 2015 Body Issue, check out espn.com/bodyissue! And pick up a copy on newsstands starting July 10.
After seven years of working on The Body Issue for ESPN The Magazine, I'm still surprised and impressed with the level of commitment and courage the athletes bring to their photo shoots.
These are the best bodies in the world. Some shake with fear when it's time to remove their robe. Others walk around comfortably, in front of a dozen crew members. Some request alcohol (I'll never tell), while others couldn't care less. It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman, each person has a different level of comfort in the nude, in front of a camera, for the world to see.
But they all bring it. They are proud and are thrilled to be honored for their form. And they trust us. Gaining their trust is a skill, an energy. When they trust, the pictures turn out that much better. I find that the right crew is crucial to the process.
New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was very shy for such a good-looking, ripped young man. He was nervous about showing his rear end. I assured him we wouldn't show too much of it. Before long, he was leaping in the air, recreating his one-handed catch, unafraid and trusting.
My role is to understand the athletes, involve them in the process, assure them that their comfort level is of utmost concern, and to have fun making images that will live on forever. Many relationships have been built with nothing but love at the end of the day.
The biggest challenges are coming up with new ideas year after year. Where to shoot, what new positions are there, what props to use, and most importantly, who should shoot whom. We are fortunate that the best photographers in the business love shooting for us. Matching the photographers with the athletes is very important, as they all have their own style and personality as well.
An athlete such as basketball player DeAndre Jordan, with a playful personality, is best suited with someone who can capture that and then some. Peggy Sirota fit that bill perfectly. Heptathlete Chantae McMillan, with extraordinary athletic ability and form, was captured beautifully in the desert by photographer Carlos Serrao, who shoots stylized action like no other.
We sometimes shoot in extreme conditions. This year, Peter Hapak photographed golfer Sadena Parks on a course in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 109-degree weather. The heat caused her to cramp up quite a bit, but she powered through with lots of coconut water. Inevitably, a rattlesnake slithered out onto the green, uninvited.
Our location for the Tyson Chandler shoot in 2012 was a residence in Topanga Canyon outside Los Angeles. The drive up a 2-mile dirt road on the edge of a cliff was so scary, I actually had to get out of the car and walk to the location. When Chandler's agent from New York arrived, she also appeared on foot -- crying and scared to death. "I am not happy!" she exclaimed. "Tyson is not coming here!"
Ten minutes later, Chandler's SUV limo rolled up. He was so rattled he had to lean against a wall until he could get his legs to stop shaking. He told me he was afraid of heights and was plotting how he would have to pull his wife and himself out of the moving vehicle should it start to fall off the edge of the cliff. We all finally got ourselves together and came away with breathtaking images.
It's not easy posing for these pictures. It's a very vulnerable place. Fortunately, we have consistently created gorgeous, tasteful images year after year, earning respect throughout the sports and photography worlds. Team effort all the way. There is no "I" in "team," but there are two in "martini." Hopefully, we'll be toasting The Body Issue for years to come.
Nancy Weisman, senior deputy photo editor for ESPN The Magazine, has worked on the Body Issue since its inception in 2009.