The Story Behind the Famous SI Swimsuit Cover Photo of Kate Upton in Antarctica
The model has been featured on the cover of the magazine three times.
Kate Upton makes all her photos look effortless, but her iconic 2013 cover photo shoot in Antarctica was actually a grueling experience.
The three-time cover star made her SI Swimsuit debut in 2011, when she was named Rookie of the Year. She returned in ’12 and ’13 with back-to-back covers and landed her third in ’17.
“In order to complete our theme of seven continents we needed to get to the seventh continent. Antarctica was critical for us,” editor-in-chief MJ Day explained. “The model that we brought there would have to be able to hold her own against the grandeur that is Antarctica. Kate Upton is that woman. This is the most challenging shoot we have ever done and possibly ever will do.”
Upton, who was named model of the year in 2013, was a pro on set. The mom said she was cold even with a coat on, so gearing up to stand in the snow in just a bikini was nerve-racking. Photographer Derek Kettela would snap 20 to 30 photos and the Swim Team would run in to bundle Upton up.
“Coming to Antarctica is a historical event because no other fashion magazine has come here before,” the model gushed. “It was a huge honor to find out that Sports Illustrated picked me to come here. Even through the pain.”
There were other team members around that helped ease the stress of posing in negative degree weather: penguins!
“The second day shooting, I think the penguins were the only thing that kept me going because they are so adorable,” Upton said at the time. “This is a bit of a payoff. The penguins are making me feel better. They really are fearless creatures, they come right up, they’re curious about what’s going on.”
Here are some more of our favorite photos from Upton’s 2013 photo shoot in Antarctica.