For those of you who pore over the Swimsuit Issue for the pictures as much as the articles--O.K., all of you--SI.com has great news. Even at a whopping 222 pages, the magazine can't possibly fit in all the sizzling photos taken of 18 models at eight locations. Fortunately, such space restrictions don't apply to the Web. Thus the moment that the Swimsuit Issue hits newsstands at midnight EST on Feb. 18, SI.com will unveil its Swimsuit site, with more than 200 photos that can be seen only online. "We have more than twice as many exclusive photos this year than ever before," says SI.com managing editor Paul Fichtenbaum. "And not just pictures--but video and webcasts. This is as close as we can come, without breaking our budget, to actually sending each of our users on location with the models."
One person who does go to every location is Swimsuit editor Diane Smith, and her behind-the-scenes photos from each of those shoots are among the highlights of SI.com's offerings. Carrying a simple point-and-click Olympus, Smith snapped many candid shots of the models between sessions. "Because I'm not a professional photographer and I'm using such a simple camera, the models relax more around me," Smith says. "That's the charm of these photos--the girls don't take them very seriously and are much more natural."
Seven locations, from the Bahamas to Thailand, will have their own Web section, complete with exclusive video. Each will include a "virtual reality" scene in which users can play director by panning a full 360 degrees among the models, photographers and assistants at a shoot, zooming in wherever and whenever they like. Longtime fans of the Swimsuit Issue, or of attractive models in general, will also enjoy the archived collection of Swimsuit images from 1996 through 2004.
For those who prefer words to pictures, don't worry: SI.com will still have Peter King's Monday Morning QB and our usual sports news. It's just that King's picture will be somewhat smaller than those of the models. You'll thank us for that.