V2 by Russell James

Some guys truly have all the luck.  Photographer Russell James has fortune and fame, which largely comes from photographing Victoria's Secret Angels.  And if that wasn't enough, during a 2009 swimsuit shoot at Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, many of them agreed to let him shoot them -- often naked --  for some unofficial pictures.  The coffee table book V2 is a collection of those personal pictures -- and it's not quite what one would expect.

Following introductions from Ed Razek (from Victoria's Secret), Richard Branson (who let them shoot at his home), and Russell James, we get right into the photographs.  Models Brooklyn Decker, Miranda Kerr, Candice Swanepoel, Erin Heatherton, Emanuela de Paula, Jarah Mariano, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Lindsay Ellingson are all featured, whether frolicking in the ocean, concealed by branches, or simply reclining on the sand.   Most shots are black and white photos, though a few color ones pop up throughout the book.
While the though of naked Victoria's Secret Angels is, frankly, intoxicating, V2 is not about simple nudity.  James captures the essence of the models, with photos ranging from the playful to the languid.  And while more of the models' bodies are show than would be allowed in a VS catalog, that is hardly the focus.  Sometimes James opts to zoom in on one area of the body; other times his subject blends in and almost vanishes in the beauty of the natural setting.  The photographs show how beautiful these women are -- but they're hardly cheesecake shots.

V2 is a quite beautiful book, capturing the beauty of some of the world's most beautiful models without devolving into mere prurience.  It is creative, talented, a bit surprising, and quite stunning.
Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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