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MLB All-Star Giancarlo Stanton: Behind The Scenes Of His Sports Illustrated Body Painting Photo Shoot

My Giancarlo Stanton story began with a phone call a couple of years ago. My good friend and the director of photography for Sports Illustrated called me to see if I would be available to work on a cover shoot for SI. He was tight-lipped, giving me very few details and telling me that I’d have to wait for a full briefing until a couple of days before the shoot because they didn’t want word leaking out about the project.

A couple of days before the shoot date, I was told that they planned to body paint the cover subject similar to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition layouts, where they body paint a bathing suit onto the model. I was available and obviously extremely interested. The Editor booked me right then and there for the shoot. After I hung up, I went straight to my wife to boast that I was going to be working on a cover shoot with a model who is going to be body painted. 

I figured that would make my wife a little bit jealous, and I think it worked because she acted like she wasn’t interested. It was two days before the shoot when I got the full briefing and found out that my subject was not some sexy female but in fact a male baseball player who had just signed the richest contract in major-league baseball history, Giancarlo Stanton of the the Miami Marlins, who had become the 350 million dollar man! At the time, Stanton had been on track to become one of the most prolific home run hitters of all-time. After I saw that, I went back to my wife with my tail between my legs saying, “Yeah, it’s a guy who’s going to be body painted not a girl.” She immediately asked who the guy was. When I told her it was Giancarlo Stanton, she immediately replied “I’m going on that shoot with you.”

It was a cold winter day in Miami. “Really?” you might be asking. Believe me, it was one of the coldest days ever experienced in South Florida and inside the studio it was a blustery 55°. Again, I know that doesn’t sound bad, but when you have an athlete laying on a table with nothing on but a pair of baseball pants for what amounted to 12 hours of body painting (Yes, I said 12 hours of body painting), it was a frigid and grueling day for Mr. Stanton.

Photo courtesy of Marc Serota

I must say he handled it like the true professional that he is. He endured the countless hours by taking 10 minute breaks and standing next to a portable space heater on the floor that one of my assistants purchased at Target (had to go to three Target’s to find one). Another impressive thing was that he did all that for free. I guess, at that time, it was still an honor to grace the cover of SI.

The most incredible part of the day was watching these unbelievably talented make-up artists meticulously paint the uniform on Stanton’s body, showing every ripple and every drop shadow necessary to make it look like he was actually wearing a uniform shirt.

Photo courtesy of Marc Serota

The team of make-up artists used several of my photos from previous games and media sessions in order to get the most lifelike appearance in the final picture, and I have to say they nailed it. I felt like some of the most creative photos from that day were made during the process of creating the look and not necessarily the actual finished result. By the way if you where wondering, I did NOT take my wife on that shoot, I’m not that stupid.

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About The Author
Marc Serota
Marc Serota
As a Portrait photographer Marc Serota has lensed iconic athletes and celebrities for CORBIS and GETTY as well as major brands such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the NBA, NHL and the NFL. Serota is a renowned award winning photographer having logged 25+ years with news agencies such as REUTERS, Getty Images, The Associated Press and UPI shooting the biggest entertainment, news and sports stories from the early 1990’s to the present. Marc has covered numerous Super Bowls, Olympic games, NHL Stanley Cup’s, NASCAR races, ATP and PGA events. Visit Marc's website: marcserota.com. Follow Marc Serota @G_O_A_T_shooter on Twitter and @marcserota on Instagram.
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