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Candice Swanepoel on the Anatomy of a Victoria's Secret Swimsuit Shoot

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Courtesy Victoria’s Secret

White sand beaches, clear oceans, warm sunshine — Victoria’s Secret swim shoots look like a walk in the park, er, on the beach. But in reality, they do take a lot of work, according to swimwear model Candice Swanepoel.

“We usually start around 5 a.m., or 5:30 a.m., to be able to catch the sunrise because those are some of the most beautiful moments,” the Angel told PEOPLE recently at party to celebrate the brand’s new swimwear in New York. “We take a break in the middle of the day, and then we shoot until the sun goes down.”

OK, so we don’t feel too badly for Swanepoel, who’s shot in gorgeous locations like St. Barts — “one of my favorite places of all time,” she said — and Bora Bora. “It was far — I flew from Paris which was like a world away, but it was paradise,” she shared. “But really, any beach. I’m like, ‘Where’s the next swim shoot?'”

On the shoots, the models wear very little makeup. “The first day we use a lot of bronzer, to get that beautiful tan, but after a while I get naturally tan,” she revealed.

And when multiple “teams” of models, makeup artists and photographers are at a destination (“the whole family,” as Swanepoel affectionately calls them), the group will shoot all day and enjoy a tropical dinner together at night.

But for all the beautiful places she’s posed, there’s still one destination Swanepoel is dying to see in a Victoria’s Secret catalogue: Brazil. “The beaches are kind of wild, not the pristine white sand and clear water that looks so good with these bikinis,” she explained. “But I’m obsessed with it — the energy they have there, the beach culture … it’s so relaxed. Every moment is exciting — people just want to enjoy life and have fun.” Sounds like the perfect summer motto.

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