Thomas Sewell left
Jay Koelzer right
The irony of SI's "Secret Garden" shoot (page 217) isn't lost on first-time Swimsuit contributor Thomas Sewell, who photographed and helped select the locations on his 17-acre property in Haiku, Maui. It's not so secret anymore, is it? However, Sewell, who has lived in his mini-Eden for the last 20 years, was proud to let SI in on the mystery. On each day of the three-day shoot, Sewell fed SI's 18-person crew lunch under the canopy of a chandeliered monkeypod tree in his backyard. Later, SI entrusted illustrator Jay Koelzer with restoring some of the "secret" to Sewell's garden through computer-generated imagery. Koelzer meticulously embedded 24 images, mostly animals, in Sewell's photos. "You'd think it'd be easy, staring at models all day," says Koelzer, "but my first instruction [from SI's editors] was, 'Don't mess with the models.' I literally had to blank those areas out."
Ben Watts PHOTOGRAPHER
The older brother of actress Naomi Watts runs with a fast crowd, having shot subjects ranging from Bruce Springsteen to motorcycle gangs to supermodels. For this issue, the subject was IndyCar Series driver—and fellow Swimsuit newbie—Danica Patrick. While the finished product (page 172) is enough to make the pulse race, the shoot itself was all about slowing down the pace. "It's about mood and relaxation," says Watts, whose work has also appeared in GQ and Rolling Stone. "I pride myself on my ability to create comfort."
"[Photographing] women turns me on more than men," confesses Bielinska, a former model herself who shot the wives of pro athletes Johnny Damon, Jeff Garcia and Jeff Gordon, and the fianc�e of Carmelo Anthony (page 196). Her favorite subject for this shoot? Damon's wife, Michelle. "Her hair is so full and vivacious," says Bielinska, whose work has also appeared in GQ and the Brazilian and German editions of Vogue. "And she has such an amazing butt!"
Believe it or not, Swimsuit shoots aren't all thongs and bikini straps. At Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge in Nicaragua (page 202), Sutch and the SI crew donated $1,000 to a local grade school, which used the funds for supplies and renovations. "It gave everything a little depth," says Sutch, who is used to shooting celebs like Sienna Miller in glitzy studios near his Kent, England, residence. "Suddenly, it wasn't all about girls taking their clothes off. I felt like an ambassador."