Naomi Watts's surprising connection to new 'Sports Illustrated' swimsuit cover

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Naomi Watts and her brother Ben Watts, a photographer who shot the new <em>Sports Illustrated</em>&nbsp;Swimsuit 2018 cover, at the 2015 <em>Vanity Fair</em> Oscar Party. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
Naomi Watts and her brother Ben Watts, a photographer who shot the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2018 cover, at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

The new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has launched model newbie Danielle Herrington into the stratosphere. Obviously, her good looks made this shot cover material, but she couldn’t have done it — literally — without professional photographer Ben Watts, who took the photo.

@danielle_herrington_ is the 2018 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT COVER MODEL! (: @wattsupphoto)

A post shared by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@si_swimsuit) on Feb 13, 2018 at 4:33am PST


Watts is an acclaimed photographer — more on that in a minute — but he is also the older brother of actress Naomi Watts. Yes, the Oscar nominee. The siblings were born in London — their dad was Peter Watts, road manager for Pink Floyd — before moving to Australia. We know what Naomi went on to do; Ben attended Sydney College of Arts and became a photographer’s assistant. He soon started shooting for Australian Vogue, among other publications. He later moved to N.Y.C. — like his sis — and has shot advertising campaigns for major companies, such as Apple and Polo Ralph Lauren. He has also shot a slew of cover pics for celebrities — ranging from his sister, of course, to Hugh Jackman, who has used him many times, as well as Chris Hemsworth, Ashley Graham, Henry Cavill, and Fergie, to name just a few.

Watts celebrated the new SI swimsuit cover on Tuesday by sharing some behind-the-scenes shots from his time with Herrington on Harbour Island, Bahamas, where the shoot took place, as well offering his congratulations. She’s clearly the new “it” girl, earning kudos for the cover from everyone from Tyra Banks to Kate Upton.

Massive congrats @danielle_herrington_ x @si_swimsuit on getting the COVER just dropped . Big up the whole crew @mj_day @darciebaum @christinecherbonnier @anthonycristianosalon @ja_neyney @shakeproductionsnyc #sportsillustratedswimsuit #habourisland #pinksands #endlesssummer #benwatts #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Feb 13, 2018 at 6:39am PST


Cover girl dance @danielle_herrington_ x @si_swimsuit #bts #harbourisland #bahamas #pinksands #benwatts #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Feb 13, 2018 at 12:56pm PST


For the record, this isn’t Watts’s first SI swimsuit cover. He was also the man behind Hannah Jeter’s super racy photo in 2015. You remember — her bikini bottoms were pulled down so low that we were educated about her waxing preference, and stories like What Does the Sports Illustrated Cover Teach Our Kids? were plentiful.

Super excited and honored to have shoot this years @si_swimsuit cover thanks to @hanni_davis and @mj_day and the amazing team @anthonycristianosalon @christinecherbonnier @darciebaum #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Feb 5, 2015 at 4:32am PST


Watts clearly has a good touch with swimsuit models — he’s also worked with Victoria’s Secret ladies too — but celebrities love him too. Last month, some of Watts’s archival photos of the late Heath Ledger were well loved across the internet when Naomi and others shared them around the 10-year anniversary of the actor’s death. (Naomi dated Heath.)

Thinking about this beautiful soul today. 10 years ago he left this world. He was a true original. Heart always on his sleeve, with the most powerful charisma, strength, humor and talent. I will never forget his gentle spirit. ❤️ #heathledger @wattsupphoto

A post shared by Naomi Watts (@naomiwatts) on Jan 22, 2018 at 6:57am PST


He has a bunch — and they’re pretty incredible.

Old Polaroid of Heath and his favorite motor . This print will be @theflowershopnyc soon along with others . @heathledger_au . #polaroid #665 #landcamera #film #blackandwhitephoto #benwatts #heathledger #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Oct 9, 2017 at 8:52am PDT


Posting a couple of old one of a kind Polaroids we scanned of HEATH LEDGER skateboarding at the LA RIVER …. in upcoming exhibition Heath ledger a life in pictures at the Art gallery of WA , check it out if your in Perth oct 13 . #heathledger #polaroid #lariver #alifeinpictures #perth #Australia #localhero #oct13 #benwatts #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Sep 21, 2017 at 9:05am PDT


Remembering Heath check out heathledger.com for the t shirt proceeds go to charity @elanarosa8 #skate #surf #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Mar 28, 2013 at 2:52pm PDT


As we mentioned, Watts is a preferred photographer for Jackman. He photographed the actor for The Greatest Showman — as well too photos for Jackman’s promotion of the film.

@TheHughJackman, @ZacEfron, #MichelleWilliams, #RebeccaFerguson, and @Zendaya star in The #GreatestShowman, in theaters this Christmas.

A post shared by The Greatest Showman (@greatestshowman) on Nov 8, 2017 at 10:20am PST


Earlier in 2017, Watts also shot Jackman for Logan

LOGAN. Photo shoot with Ben Watts. @wponx @20thcenturyfox

A post shared by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on Mar 3, 2017 at 8:08am PST


…including this Entertainment Weekly cover. (Hugh was ready for his close-up that day.)

@entertainmentweekly @wponx @20thcenturyfox photo credit: Ben Watts

A post shared by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on Mar 2, 2017 at 2:35pm PST


Alec Baldwin swung some clubs in Watts’s direction — but all in good fun. This was the November issue of British GQ.

Just dropped @iamabfalecbaldwin x @britishgq on location @montauklakeclub …… what a great summer day we had #alecbaldwin #montauk #montaukdreaming #summer17 #benwatts #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Sep 29, 2017 at 2:46pm PDT


Ashley Graham struck a pose for Watts in the summer of 2016.

Excited to have a @theashleygraham x @cosmopolitan cover this month ⚡️#crewlove @ayatkanai @tracymurphymua @anthonycampbellhair #ashleygraham #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Jul 7, 2016 at 8:35am PDT


He has also worked with Jay-Z.  “We spent a week with him,” Watts noted of the 2008 adventure.

#tbt 2008 ? Shooting #jayz the man the #Legend for #life magazine . We spent a week on tour with him …. France & Italy . Thank you #georgepitts for your early support #thankful . #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:43am PST


This shot of Henry Cavill became a cover for Men’s Fitness in 2016.

Just dropped @henrycavill x @mensfitnessmag #owl #henrycavill ✌️ #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Aug 5, 2016 at 7:53am PDT


Photo: Ben Watts: Men’s Fitness
Photo: Ben Watts: Men’s Fitness

Hey there, Kardashians. He shot this Glamour cover for Kim Kardashian and “ko.” in 2012.

Photo: Ben Watts for Glamour
Photo: Ben Watts for Glamour

He had some fun with Matt Damon for GQ in 2012.

Photo: Ben Watts/GQ)
Photo: Ben Watts/GQ)

Congratulations @mattdamon_5 on your #nomination #oscars #oscar2016 here's one from #gq at #ryeplayland #ny #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Feb 28, 2016 at 2:58pm PST


He got Selena Gomez to be brave.

Photo: Ben Watts/Seventeen
Photo: Ben Watts/Seventeen

And also did this Seventeen shoot with Justin Bieber.

Photo: Ben Watts/Seventeen
Photo: Ben Watts/Seventeen

He definitely has the in with the Aussies, having grown up there. He was behind the Sexiest Man Alive shoot with Chris Hemsworth.

Photo: Ben Watts/People
Photo: Ben Watts/People

He's the #sexiestmanoftheyear , the issue just dropped @peoplemag @hemsdog #chrishemsworth dude keeps it real #shhhhhh damm just realized I made a spelling mistake ….. Made correction

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Nov 19, 2014 at 9:31am PST


He’s also shot covers for Chris Pratt, Chris PineFergie, Ruby Rose, and Miranda Lambert — and, of course, his sister.

Great styling @jeanannwilliams #naomiwatts #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Nov 16, 2012 at 4:45pm PST


She’s clearly a favorite subject; she’s all over his Instagram feed. (Her kids are too.)

Yay we're on #watts st #fallvibes on this amazing #nyc day @naomiwatts @jeanannwilliams @suzwms @wattswish #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Nov 8, 2015 at 1:06pm PST


"Back to school" wiv @naomiwatts our old high school #mosmanhigh #mosman #oldschool #memories #goodtimes #straightouttamosman #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Dec 27, 2015 at 9:59pm PST


Last one @naomiwatts x @stellamccartney #metgala #summer17 #nyc #letsdothis #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on May 1, 2017 at 6:03pm PDT


Watts is also known for taking #shhhhh photos — models and celebrities making that gesture. Ariana Grande has done it.

#tbt shooting @arianagrande in #LA #arianagrande #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Nov 5, 2015 at 5:56am PST


Naomi…

The answer you get from your sister …… If your cousin can stay at her place for a month instead of yours ???? #familymatters #couchsurfing #nyc #backpacking #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Apr 7, 2016 at 2:57pm PDT


Ashley…

Great day one @theashleygraham x @swimsuitsforall bring tomorrow on #puertorico #sanjuan #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Dec 15, 2016 at 11:39am PST


Selena…

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Dec 4, 2013 at 4:23pm PST


Jamie Foxx…

That's a wrap @iamjamiefox @milkstudios this ones out soon #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:54pm PDT


And Chris Pine…

✌️out #LA ….. Had the pleasure of working with #chrispine body by @themarkwildman back to #nyc #shhhhh

A post shared by Ben Watts (@wattsupphoto) on May 12, 2016 at 1:56pm PDT


But his talent isn’t a secret. Ben Watts is in demand, and his photos are coming soon to a magazine cover near you.


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