Body blurbs: Maya Gabeira

Memories from the surfer's photo shoot

Updated: July 23, 2012, 4:07 PM ET
By Nancy Weisman | ESPN The Magazine

tkCourtesy of Nancy WeismanWeisman hangs out with photographer Francesco Carrozzini during the shoot.

After four years and countless Body Issue photo shoots, The Mag's fearless senior deputy photo editor, Nancy Weisman, has seen it all. But for all of the skin bared in the issue, there are a few things you didn't get to see. Nancy shares the inside scoop:

MAYA GABEIRA
When I got the call that Maya would be in Oahu for the Body shoot, I was hardly upset about shooting in paradise! For the photographer, though, it was NOT an easy assignment, to be sure. I took a risk on hiring a photographer who had never shot underwater before. I called Francesco Carrozzini because his work on the previous Body Issue was exceptional, and because I know he loves to surf. Before I confirmed him for the job we had an in-depth conversation about his level of confidence in securing these photos.

"We need both surfing and underwater shots. You comfortable with that?" I asked.

"Yes," he returned.

"Do you have underwater capabilities?" I prodded.

In his Italian accent he assured me, "Yes, of course."

And off we went to the northern tip of Oahu.

After scouting several locations, we decided on "Backyards" -- a well-known spot among surfers near and far. The day of the shoot was perfect. Surf was great; skies were friendly. And then we saw Maya and her mother come walking down the beach, each carrying a surfboard. After we all got acquainted we hopped on Jet Skis and were brought out to a boat just offshore by the phenomenal Hawaiian Water Patrol guys. Once the entire crew was on the small fishing boat, Francesco wiggled into a wetsuit and jumped right in the water. Any doubt or concern I had immediately floated away. The Jet Skis then took Maya, her board, Francesco and the videographer into the surf where they tried to nail the perfect surf shot.

After lunch, we decided to try a few "duck diving" shots. This was very impressive to me although Maya explained with a genuine giggle that it's what every surfer does -- a basic move where you put your foot on the back of the board and duck under the oncoming wave. It's very impressive to see. To get the shot, Francesco was underwater without a tank -- just him, the camera, Maya and the videographer. I was now in the surf, close to the action, on the back of a Jet Ski. The waves seemed to be getting bigger, which made me very nervous, but the man driving my Jet Ski laughed and assured me I was completely safe. Next thing I know, we are surfing a wave on the Jet Ski. As he drove, I looked behind me to see the most spectacular blue wave curl over our heads. I'd never been so excited and so nervous simultaneously. The photographs say it all!

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