Behind the Tanlines

Darcie Baum and Kate Upton

Associate editor Darcie Baum travels the world with SI's swimsuit models. These are her tales:

Darcie Baum and Kate Upton

When you get your magazine in February, it’s in perfect condition: gorgeous models, artistic photos, stylish design ... basically the most awesome content on earth! What you don’t see are the 364 days of blood, sweat and tears that go into making that magazine. With our line of work, you become all too familiar with the word “obstacle.” This franchise is a living, breathing organism that never stops morphing -- nothing is confirmed for us until that magazine is printed and in our hands. We’ve been through earthquakes in Panama, tsunami scares in Philippines, US State Department security threats, missing baggage, flight delays and beyond. I’ve put together a gallery of some crazy situations we’ve been in – from natural disasters to human error. Because as glamorous as this job is, there’s always an “ugly side of pretty” (copyright MJ Day), yet somehow that pretty always shines through in the end.

Peru, 2013

May 24, 2013: Memorial Day Weekend: Three days before we were leaving for Peru I got the worst call an editor can receive “you’re permits have been revoked for no good reason.” Cue the tears, hair ripping, WTF’s, carpel tunnel from iPhone over-usage.


 The Swimsuit goddesses were looking out for us. Within four business days we found a new location during the same dates (P.S. - this is close to impossible!!). And ummm, this pic came from that shoot. I'd say it was worth it.


Australia, 2012

Oct 29, 2012: Photographer Walter Iooss Jr. was stranded at LAX when Qantas Airlines went on strike. Ten long months of planning almost went down the drain, but Wally made it to Sydney on another airline. The rest of the crew, we weren’t so sure about…


It’s a good thing the employees talked out their issues, because days later the strike ended, we landed on time and ended up getting this cover image of Kate Upton in Oz. That was some drama I never want to relive!


Sometimes we go guerrilla style at Swimsuit. MJ wanted to shoot at the Sydney Opera House, but we didn’t have authorization yet. She had Jessica Gomes quick drop her dress just to get that one epic shot. And then security came…


No permits? Hello angry security guards, and angry emails, and angry everyone. MJ still managed to hide the media card from them, in her bum no less, but we aren’t allowed to show you guys the photos. BUMMER!


Bahamas 2012


Dec 21, 2012: Everyone is on edge as the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world is coming. While in Bahamas shooting body paint there was an island wide blackout. MJ, Kate Upton and I were stuck in darkness in a villa freaking out and letting our minds spiral to our sudden terrifying sacrificial deaths.

Nina Agdal and Ariel Meredith :: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

The blackout only lasted a few hours, during which time I taught the girls how to twerk by flashlight. After all that, we ended up coming home with some of the sexiest body paint photos ever.

Maui 2010

October 2010: Sometimes Mother Nature reminds us that we shouldn’t push our luck. Photographer Bjorn Iooss, shooting Irina Shayk in Maui, was caught off guard by a rough wave. For a second, everyone thought the camera, the media card and Bjorn were done for. The shoot, literally, flashed before our eyes.


But everyone survived! Another could-be disaster gave way to another awesome shoot, which the 2011 cover came out of. Let’s hope he rents that underwater camera housing in the future…


Thailand 2004

2004: The crew was in Hua Hin, Thailand shooting with a model riding an elephant. Unbeknownst to them, women are forbidden to ride elephants (except Lady Boys) since they are a symbol of the King and extremely sacred. The film was immediately confiscated and the producer threatened to quit saying he was receiving death threats and the crew was no longer safe…


After much begging (and slight fear for their lives), they finally got permission to shoot Ana Beatriz Barros in a pair of jodhpurs (polo pants) and riding boots (borrowed from Lady Boy team) with the team. Swimsuit doesn’t travel across the world to miss opportunities!

Ana Beatriz Barros :: Stewart Shining/SI