The Story Behind the Famous SI Swim Photo of Chanel Iman Charming a Python Snake

The Story Behind the Famous SI Swim Photo of Chanel Iman Charming a Python Snake

Talk about brave!

Fashion & Beauty

On the island of Zanzibar in 2016, Chanel Iman returned to the SI Swimsuit Issue for the third year in a row, beginning with her debut in Madagascar in 2014. Under the guidance and creative eye of photographer Ruven Afanador, the American model posed for numerous striking photos, including several of her standing among a group of Maasai warriors, which she dubbed “the most amazing shot[s].”

The most shocking yet epic shots, however, were those of the 32-year-old posing with several giant pythons.

Iman showed a certain nonchalance when it came to the snapshot with the snakes, seemingly unfazed by an experience that others would surely shy away from. “I don’t mind shooting with the snake,” she said on the set of the African island.

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The Georgia native attributed the genius of the images to Afanador. “I was really excited to work with Ruven because I think he has a great eye. You have to be very comfortable to work with the photographer and I feel my strongest in front of his lens,” she remarked. “Sometimes it just clicks with the photographer and that’s how the pictures come to life.”

And those photos certainly came to life thanks in part to the snakes, which added a level of thrill to the photoshoot that made it all the more striking and impressive.

For the three-time brand model, going to Zanzibar with SI Swimsuit was “a blessing.” But from the snaps with the Maasai warriors to the poses with the pythons, it was also a blast for Iman.

“When you’re in the rhythm of being on set and having a good time and just embracing where you are, I just give my best and I just have a good time. It really doesn’t feel like work for me,” she said of the experience.