BTS With Photographer Ole Martin Halvorsen on His Shoot for H&M

BTS With Photographer Ole Martin Halvorsen on His Shoot for H&M

Photographer Ole Martin Halvorsen recently did a photoshoot that was was part of a larger social media and advertorial campaign for H&M Norway, in collaboration with Spray for their magazine Portia.

One of the challenges for this shoot was that in addition to shooting a cover shot and portrait, they were going to shoot another editorial that same day. I mean, 24 hours in a day so why not maximize it, right? Goodness! Since that meant it included a change of location as well, Halvorsen had to make sure that everything was planned and scheduled well. If you’re going to fill up the to do list then you better make sure it operates like clockwork.

When asked about the style of the shoot, Halvorsen replied, “We knew that we wanted to have a very clean and expensive look for this cover, so we went with a very classic look. Minimalism with cold tones to really bring out the model's red hair and freckles.”

In order to prepare for the shoot, Halvorsen made sure to have reference images that he could use as inspiration for poses. He also did the lighting set up the day before so he did not have to waste too much time on the morning of the shoot. This is just good planning as anything you can do to ensure you have more time behind the camera on shoot day is worth it.  

Equipment List

Canon 5D MK IV

Canon 50mm f1.2

MacBook Pro tethered with tether tools into capture one

Profoto D1 500W

Profoto D1 250W

Profoto Silver Umbrella S

Elinchrom 120cm Octa with adapter for Profoto

Lastolite reflector

Large black plates

Lighting Setup

Halvorsen used a very simple lighting setup for this shoot where it was just one light from the front, one fill light placed behind him as far as it could go and a reflector. It's pretty wild to think of what you can accomplish with a relatively straight forward setup. Simple doesn’t have to mean something bad! He emphasizes that there are a lot of small changes you can do with this setup that really elevates the overall look and feel even if you are someone that isn't particular and careful with their placements, balancing and exposure.

He used a silver umbrella in this shot to produce contrast and the crispy feeling it gives when reflecting on skin. However, as the umbrella is not a very big modifier and can be quite harsh, he placed it nearer to the model in order to soften the light. Height wise, he placed it just high enough to still get a catch light in her eyes. It was angled downwards to make sure the light doesn't spill too much onto the background and her forehead.

Two black plates were also brought in on both sides as close as he could to the model to darken the sides and help build up contrast in the image.

A small reflector from below was also used to bring back more light in the eyes to make them come more alive. “What is key here is that you use it very carefully, you want the light in her eyes and on her lips, but you don’t want it to hit too much in the shadows around her face. With the light high up, you have built volume in her face, bringing out her cheek bones, so you don’t want it to remove that contrast. You can control where the reflector hits by just tilting it up and down, until you see the reflections where you want them, without removing the volume you have built up. It’s a very slight difference but it’s important.”

“The same is true for the fill light, you want to light up just a little bit. So when I place a fill light behind me, I always make sure to place it higher than the models cheek bones, so her face does not lose contours. I usually have it about ⅔ power of the main light source and I place it as far back as I can in my studio (3-4 meters behind). Since the fill light softbox is also bigger, it makes it a lot weaker than my main. It’s just to bring back texture in all the blacks and the garment.”

Another thing Halvorsen emphasizes on considering is the distance to the backdrop. Since it’s shot on a white Colorama, distance will decide how light and dark the background looks.

He also cautions against overexposing this setup as that will make it lose all of it’s contrast. The 3D look comes from the light fall off on her face, not the angling of the light.


Thanks for taking the time reading this and Halvorsen hopes that you found it informational or inspiring. If you are interested you can view everything they did in this production here

Photographer: Ole Martin Halvorsen / @olemh /
Styling: Susann Leikanger / @susann_hm / H&M
Make up: Tatjana Weddergjerde / @tatzeii / Pudder Agency
Hair: Pål Lundhaug Berdahl / @paalhair / Style Management
Assistant: Jonathan Vivaas / @jonathanvivaaskise
Model: Karoline B. / @teammodels / Team models
Retouch: Zu Crew / @thezucrew /
Production: Spray /
Behind the scenes photos: Kristian Dale / @kristiandale

All images used with permission of Ole Martin Halvorsen.

Shavonne Wong's picture

Shavonne Wong is an award-winning fashion/ celebrity/ advertising photographer based in Singapore.

She has worked with Vogue Global Network, Glamour South Africa, Female Malaysia, Cosmopolitan HK, Lancôme, Sephora and is a returning guest photographer for Asia's Next Top Model. She is also an X-Photographer for Fujifilm.

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Preparing the light setup ? I mean Gregory Heisler for cover shot of Micheal Phelps built the setup in his NY studio, hired model the same height and shape as Michael Phelps, measured every thing, then shipped the framework to Los Angeles and shot him there... Now THAT is preparation ... His cover shot of Rudy is preparation...

Djeez what's up with those weird female hand poses....

The flash doesn't look like a Profoto D1? It's an Elinchrom, isn't it?

First thing that caught my eye. Elinchrom ELB 500.

Good catch! I forgot about this. Have bought new flashes since, and this was apparently before that. But the modifiers are correct this is the elinchrom umbrella which is 80cm instead of the profoto one that is 85cm.

Honestly, a hair light in the situation would be super cheesy, and they were going for a classic look.

Yeah - i can see what you're saying. I think it would ultimately detract from the clothes, which ultimately are king in this image as it's for a clothing commerce company, and lets be honest. Her hair is gorgeous - it would pull a lot of attention elsewhere.

Minimalism is definitely the trend in NY and Europe. It's something that all my clients are asking for as well.
Outside of hair companies, I can't even remember the last lookbook or campaign that used a hair light in studio.

I personally don't mind though, as having a hair light illuminates stray hairs and requires more work on the backend. Over the course of a lookbook, all that time really adds up.

Am I the only one seeing strange Halos around model on final images? :/