Senior editor Jule Campbell is always on the lookout for a fresh face or a new setting for SI's annual swimsuit issue. When going through a magazine, she'll tear out and save photographs that catch her fancy. "It might be the composition, the lighting, the pose or the model," she says. "It's not until later that I pay attention to the photographer. One day I noticed I had a stack of pictures taken by Marc Hispard."
And so for this year's swimsuit issue, Campbell found not only fresh faces, in models Cindy Crawford, Estelle LeFebure and Stephanie Seymour, and a different setting, Thailand, but also a new photographer—Hispard, 50, a fashion photographer based in Paris and New York.
While most of our swimsuit photos in recent years have been taken with illumination from strobe lights, which highlights the models and eliminates shadows, Hispard prefers available light, for a softer, more natural feel. "Many of Marc's photographs have a sense of motion," says Campbell, "as if he caught the model unawares."
For his part, Hispard had kind words for Campbell's models—Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland, Kim Alexis, Karen Alexander and the three newcomers—as well as for the site of the shoot. " Thailand was a very good choice because of the variety of locations," he says. He was less happy that during six weeks of shooting there were two full days of sunshine; mostly the SI crew had to wait for fleeting moments of brightness.
The weather was particularly bedeviling at the Young Elephant Training Center, a wooded enclave where elephants are taught to help in the harvesting of teak. "The center was a two-hour drive from our hotel," Campbell says. "We'd leave in the dark at 5 a.m. and arrive in the pouring rain. By the time the weather cleared, tourists would be swarming over the site." One morning the sun was there, the tourists weren't, and Hispard got the shot of LeFebure that appears on pages 2 and 3.
Life was further complicated when Campbell's guide from the Tourist Authority of Thailand informed her that the models could not be photographed in front of any of the country's spectacular temples. "Not even if they were wearing swim dresses," says Campbell. "The government is very sensitive about its temples appearing in fashion shots." But the photo on this page, of Alexander on the Chao Phraya River, in which the Buddhist Temple of Dawn can be seen in the distance, was acceptable.
Then there's the story of one of our photos of Macpherson. The night before Macpherson was scheduled to leave Thailand, Campbell, hoping to get one last shot of her, asked if she would mind getting up extra early. She was on the job at 6 a.m. "We posed Elle on the roof of a tour boat," Campbell says. "Marc and I felt some magic, and she did, too. Sometimes it happens that way."
Later that day the camera bag containing the film of the morning's shoot went overboard when a gust of wind blew it from the tripod on which it was hanging. The bag was retrieved from the salt water, but, says Campbell, "a lens and a camera were ruined. We were sure that all those beautiful pictures were lost, too." Fortunately, the film was undamaged, as the photo on page 106 attests.
By the way, this is Macpherson's third straight appearance on the cover of our swimsuit issue, which ties the record set by Christie Brinkley from 1979 to '81.