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Swimsuits In Zero Gravity: Kate Upton & SI Show What It Takes (BTS)

By Kishore Sawh on February 19th 2014


When you’ve shot in almost every beautiful location on the planet for half a century, it comes as little surprise you may take your next dosage of inspiration from the ‘space,’ outside of it. I mean, if you’ve done it all, then the path of least resistance is probably the path to avoid if you need a new angle. Sports Illustrated found that new angle – a 45 degree angle, as it were, at 34,000 ft.

For the 50th anniversary issue of its Swimsuit Edition, SI had Kate Upton do her job unbound from gravity. Together with the ZeroG corporation, Upton and her band of merry stylists and photogs, took to the skies in a modified Boeing 727-227F Advanced, to complete around 15 parabolic arcs in the name of all that is weightless and sexy, and shot a swimsuit homage to ‘Barbarella,’ and it’s amazing.




‘Amazing,’ like many of it’s synonymous adjectives gets tossed around a lot, I know, but it’s right. Sure, something like this was bound to get the press, and the public, titillated. Thing is, there seems to be little appreciation of the professionalism involved, and views on the matter are about as one sided as political control in Cuba. Sure, Kate has weight in the right places, and yes, there are straighter lines outside of a gay bar, but to point out the anti-gravity effects on cup size is good sport – if you like shooting fish in a barrel. But you’re a photographer with an eye, for um, detail. This is actually a really cool and intense shoot.

[REWIND: BTSV Of Victoria’s Secret 2013 Holiday Ads]



The flight program isn’t for wusses, and a lot of people walk out with their stomachs in a bag. I wonder how Stephen Hawking dealt during his ride? ZeroG’s modded 727 goes into a steep 45 degree climb at 24,000 feet subjecting its passengers to around sustained 2 G loads for about 30 seconds. That’s more than most people ever deal with, and then the altered and varied gravity states come after…and repeatedly.


Kate, proves her worth and takes the whole thing in stride. If you pay attention in the BTS and final videos (below), which isn’t hard to do, the moment the cameras are ready she flips a switch and gets the job done. If you’ve ever worked with models, or tried to get someone who isn’t to be one for a day, you know it can be painful. Kate seems like a joy to work with. The photo crew should all be commended too.

Yes, the photos aren’t all in prime focus and the props are weak, but the environment is a hostile one. You’ll see a couple of GoPro cameras attached to heads, and DSLR cameras and LED panels all over the place. In zero gravity you have little control of movement – just take a look at the next photo. Frankly, I’d buy them a round upon landing. I’d buy Kate two. Someone asked me earlier how I managed to notice this and see past the gratuitous boobs. I digress, I’m a leg man.


You can find more about the shoot here, and more about the ZeroG program and when they’ll be near you, here.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Chuck Eggen

    I can’t imagine the production cost for this.

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  2. Graham Marley

    Would it really have been so hard to attach some speedlites to the walls? I get it, it’s a BAD shooting environment, but give yourself a chance.

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    • Pye

      Yeah, I am kind of curious too why they didn’t go for something a little more with the lighting.

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