The Top 10 Outside Magazine Photos Ever*

*Okay, maybe not EVER. Let's just say in the last decade...and make that 13 photos..ten was impossible.

I have worked at Outside for almost nine years as the creative director. What's a creative director? (You and my mom wonder.) It means I work in the art department on page layout and design, communicating with designers and photographers and wearing out my mouse. But sometimes I get to go outside and work with some of the most talented athletes and photographers on the planet. And this is the part of my job I love the most.

My interview for this gig was on September 10, 2001 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I woke up the next morning back in my apartment in New York City only to witness the twin towers and all the people in them come crashing down to the ground along with all my naive optimism about the world and our relative safety in it. Something about that unthinkable tragedy made me go for it. Life is short I thought. Shorter than I had originally thought, maybe. I feel like the people we shoot think that way too. They really go for it, grabbing life by the short hairs.

For most people, being photographed is a torturous kind of event. You only get a good picture if some amount of guard is let down. That's very hard to do with a crowd of gawkers and a big black camera staring at you while people fuss with your clothes and wipe the glare off your forehead and ask you to look into the sun. But these men and women gave and gave and that’s how we all got and got. There was a lot of trust involved. A lot of going for it. 

Both the photographers and the athletes found here became the the best in their fields by finding something in life that they were good and passionate enough about to do over and over again. Sometimes, bringing the two together can result in a disastrous clash of egos that results in bad photos, but we'll save those for another blog. Because more importantly, bringing the two together can create magical pictures.

What makes these photographs great to me is walls-down honesty mixed with physical strength, which in my book equals drop-dead sexy. It wasn’t easy to pick out 13 because so many great photographers have shot for us and so many elite athletes have appeared in our pages, but these pictures represent the best of both worlds, the most inspiring people we have had the good fortune to shoot paired with the most genius photographers I have had the huge honor of working with.

--Hannah McCaughey

13. Dean Potter, shot by Andy Anderson:
I love the chalk in this picture and the angel wings in the rock behind him and, of course, the stare that lets you into his soul for a little lookie-loo.

12. Malia Jones, shot by Jeff Lipsky:
This shot wasn’t going to happen at all at first. It was the end of along--but great--day of shooting beautiful set ups along a Malibu beachwith various bikinis. Malia + Malibu + nice day--how could you miss?Jeff had called the shoot over, and the sun had pretty much set so itseemed “we had it in the can,” but as everyone was packing up,something told Jeff there was one more shot to be had. I think thispicture turned out to be so vulnerable and lovely because of that warmfeeling you have at the end of a fun day.

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