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ESPN Body Issue 2014 Is Out With Beautifully Executed Photographs of Star Athletes in the Nude

This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.

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ESPN's Body Issue 2014 is out -- and the results are stunning. Every one of the 59 images in the "Bodies We Want" piece is a beautiful portrait of the pinnacle of the human form. There is no doubt these are professional atheletes with perfect, sculpted bodies. No puffed-up editing, no extraneous fluff. This is the real deal: clean, sharp, and on point. Oh, and did I mention there's a BTS video? No, wait. There are 13 BTS videos featuring the likes of Jamie Anderson, Michael Phelps, Venus Williams and many others.

Catch all the new behind-the-scenes videos on ESPN's site, and enjoy a selection of the photos below!

[Via ESPN]

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Anonymous's picture

You've gotta wonder how many takes it took to get some of those poses. "Sorry dude, we can see your balls -- do it again"

Gordon le Grand's picture

I guess they simply retouched their balls off. ;-)

Jason Reilly's picture

I'm sure they wouldn't be ok with ball touching....

Henry Louey's picture

Black and White Magazine did this in 1996, 2000, and 2004 with the Australian Olympic team and I hate to say it but have done it better that what ESPN have done.

Also whats with the NSFW tag? There is zero nudity in any of the posted images

Adam Ottke's picture

True, they did some good shots then. Still, I have favorites and least favorites from both groups... But to each his own.

The NSFW tag is there literally for people who might be at work or in public places and would not like to show anything that might even remotely be considered explicit (some viewers are in more conservative environments than we are...i.e. you wouldn't necessarily want these running on your desktop if you were at Grandma's senior home, etc.).

While there are no genitals or exposed breasts in these images, they are still nude photographs (the subjects are in the nude) and we, therefore, like to err on the side of caution for our viewers. I think most of our viewers are appreciative of that discretion.

Jason Ranalli's picture

I emailed FStoppers yesterday actually and said "thank-you" for this feature. I work in a much more conservative environment than most but would still like to read photography articles/how-tos during lunch at my desk.

I appreciate Fstoppers err'ing on the more conservative side with the feature...after all you can turn it off anyway.

Mister Mike's picture

Try to sound a little less bitter. It's not ESPN's first year doing it either. They do one every year, and the photos are still beautiful. Normally I'm for everyone having a voice, but your entire post was negative for no reason.

Phil Stefans's picture

I guess ESPN is a little more mainstream than what (Not Only) Black & White magazine was...that being said I prefer the Black and White magazine ones too..a lot more creative & arty. That was one brilliant magazine...I've got about 40 of em, they're great to look at when I'm feeling uninspired.

Jason Ranalli's picture

I think the NSFW is fairly appropriate here...glad that we have it. Clearly to you and me this is about photography but if a client in my office walked in behind me(my business is far from photography) and saw this...well...yeah...NSFW IMO.

Dani Riot's picture

awesome set of images. These bodies are sending me back to the gym today :p

Lee Morris's picture

You can always shoot to be that baseball player ;)

james johnson's picture

I'd be careful... "that baseball player" could probably crush you.

Gregory L'Esperance's picture

What's with all the prudity on the nudity?

Adam Ottke's picture

Asked and answered :-) Check above.

Dov Hechtman's picture

I think that while its wonderful imagery I'm bothered by the fact that where all the men are strong and visually direct chest and body bared the women here are all shown hiding themselves. an arm across the chest the body turned away to hide the breasts/chest or the image chosen just as the arms block sight of the breasts during a motion.

Hiding the genitals is something that can be done naturally by a foot forward in either sex but the deliberateness of the difference between the male and female photos here are striking. and does not send a good message if we are to look at these images as an expression of man/woman and the wonder of the human form nude in all its glory.

If anything the positioning and deliberate obfuscation actually heightens the sexual overtones that seem to be fine for the male figures but not for the female figures who must hide away these parts in shame as if exposing them will titillate the audience anymore than a male chest and nipples will.

Adam Ottke's picture

I respectfully disagree. I mean, perhaps there is a slight difference, but I think it's good to give people their privacy. And in this case, they wanted to keep nipples (at least female nipples and breasts) from showing to be slightly more conservative. And a foot-forward-frontal might still expose shaving habits and such, which I don't think the world needs to know about (nor do I think the athletes want to share).

Regardless of the composition choices to hide more explicit nudity, I think they did a remarkable showing the strength of women. Despite being limited in these ways, look at how strong those basketball or boxing shots are. Oh my god! I'm most awe-stricken with those! The bodies are incredible -- and it really draws attention to the feat of perfecting that body to perform at its best.

So all in all, I think a remarkable job was done while still taking care of these female athletes' privacy. Perhaps breasts aren't as big of an issue in other countries outside the U.S. (I know they're not, in fact). But the fact remains they still are here in the U.S., and by not showing them, I think we save ourselves from a lot of comments that we simply don't need. This is about the perfection of the human form. Nothing else. So I'm happy with it...

Dov Hechtman's picture

No offense but really LOL your doing a nude and you want to have privacy I'm sorry but no. Are you saying that the men turned down privacy or that they weren't allowed privacy?

Every single man in the images are showing chest and breast the exact opposite of every female pose in the series. I don't think the women posed themselves to do this and the posing is so absolutely deliberate and set up by the photographer. Every image thats an action shot has an arm or angle that a moment later or before would have had the nipple and breast exposed so again a deliberate editorial choice.

Sadly your answer contains the sexist elements that I'm talking about referring to privacy as if posing nude were a bad thing. The foot forward frontal was never in question and well all the model male and female are doing it. Its the specific hiding of one part of the body versus the non hiding of the same thing in the mens case that is reinforcing the stereotypes also the contortions that those athletes had to put themselves in to coverup because yeah your gonna run or play tennis with your arm slum across your chest at an awkward angle.

Your statement "these female athletes' privacy" speaks volumes to the problem I'm pointing out which is the assumption that women require a privacy that we obviously don't expect from men, its the same issues that breast feeding women have in public which is a legally protected and yet they are shamed and harassed by people with the same mind set of Propriety and privacy and really only relayed to the prudishness and sexism we have about women and the female form.

Im glad your happy with it but if this were just a photo shoot of naked male athletes I would agree with you but its not and it simply reinforces the same sexist barriers and mindsets that women have faced in sports and in US society.

By the way Im from NYC and its entirely legal for men and women to walk around topless.

Adam Ottke's picture

To your first point, one can absolutely consent, wish for, and enjoy a nude shoot WITH a level of privacy and respect. Why not? Plenty of people are willing to pose in certain ways or from certain angles but still prefer to keep certain parts private. What is wrong with that? Can they not choose? Just because they are willing to share a bare back, must they give up all privacy and be required by the world's many viewers to bare all? That is an odd "sorry but no" to me...

I'm not saying I believe anyone should feel shamed about exposing breasts (or any part of their body, honestly -- I'm pretty open to anything myself). But MANY women, whether it's a bad thing or a good thing or what have you, feel their breasts are private (more women believe that than men might believe the same of their own breasts, I assure you). And on that note, I'm sure there are plenty of female athletes in this shoot that agree with that and preferred to keep what they viewed as their privacy. People can have their own views. I don't think it's our job to say it's THEIR problem that they don't feel comfortable with that.

For ESPN to keep it more conservative to allow at least some women what I'm sure they viewed as their privacy was a good decision, in my view. In other instances you mention, I'm sure not every woman would appreciate suggestions to walk around topless just because it was legal. And for ESPN to do it this way was surely more encouraging of participation for some of the women than had they required full nudity. That's all.

(And of course it's an editorial choice... But I'm sure it was all understood beforehand. I'm sure plenty of photos taken during the shoot exposed "unwanted" nudity. But you don't go into a shoot with a model as a photographer/producer/editor with a certain understanding and then pick the ones that "showed something." So of course these were selected for being more covered...but again, yes, for the sake of the athletes'/models' privacy. I'm so confused by a lot of this reply and/or where you're coming from... Perhaps we just think very differently)

Dov Hechtman's picture

Yep adam we think differently as well as the group of women friends who I sent the links who all agreed with my point of view and felt the portraits were sexist and reinforced negative stereotypes. See you have a limiting factor which is your a guy just as I am and worse your a guy who really isn't getting this is the same problem that exists in the over image manipulation to turn models in fashion and advertising into impossible creatures that promotes bad body images to young women to aspire to.

Please understand that Im not saying anyone is a villain here and just to make sure I was seeing what I am talking about I went throughout the entirety of the slide show on the ESPN website rather than just use the images used in the article here.

There are some amazing images in the series however there is a massive lack of imagination in the case of the positioning the female athletes and also the scenarios some are portrayed in that that speaks towards the problem in question.
Not one single male pose has an aspect of awkward positioning to hide anything and as a case in point I will the NY laws pertaining to men and women going topless is predicated on the aspect that walking around naked is equally prohibited however a man without his shirt wasn't illegal while a woman topless was. An unequal application of the law.

Ive pointed out the the one leg forward to hide whats between the legs is a classic and time tested methodology in photography and painting for hiding whats there and in a non awkward manner. That being said not one single images of the male athletes in the shoot have the awkward hiding things positioning that a larger percentage of the female athleetes do.

The Venus William's images with a a flowing lame skirt and every image her arm awkwardly across the chest being the worst of the lot the Danyelle Wolf standing with her boxing glove and arm across her chest and her other glove as a crotch guard is almost subtle but then you look at Omar Gonzalez image of the soccer ball covering up his bits for its inventiveness and humor and you have to ask what message is being sent.
The ginger Huber diving images solve the problem with Aplomb as well as the Angel McCoughtry jump shot images but its still obvious that those are the exceptions not the rule.

Of course ESPN is a conservative group and will of course hew to the more prudish aspects of society however the mixed messages of the images shows that with the images that they managed to not send those bad messages and aren't awkward amplify the images they didn't even bother to not be awkward about and or intensely obvious with the crooked arm across the chest.