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BEHIND THE SCENES | Red Steel by Anine Desire

In this first edition of "Behind The Scenes", our new series of interviews with creative minds, Oslo-based music photographer Anine Desire shares her experiences and insights from her recent shoot with Norwegian rock band Red Steel. Join us as we explore the creative process behind this collaboration and delve into the behind-the-scenes magic of their latest photo shoot.

Hey Anine, please give our readers a short introduction of yourself.

Hey, thanks for having me! Ohh I always struggle a bit with this! My name is Anine Desire, I’m 30 years old, from Oslo, Norway. I grew up going to gigs with a small point and shoot camera and for the past 12 ish years I’ve been shooting music, both live and promo sessions. I actually have a 4 year education in photography and used to work with one of Norway's most respected food and still life photographers. At her studio I did mostly retouching, light setups and some smaller product shoots. Now I’m full time doing digital marketing/promotion/content creation at a live streaming company called, while also doing freelance work. My freelance work is often band shoots, live concerts, or content creating / social media managing. 

So, we came across these super cool photos of Red Steel and would love to learn more about the shoot.

Thank you! That was a fun shoot! I knew of the band from before.They won the band competition to play at Tons Of Rock (Norway's biggest rock festival) last year, and I have seen a lot of their content through the channels as we're always looking for emerging bands. So yes, I knew who they were and what they were about, but never spoke to them before. They emailed me around mid April, asking if I’d be interested in shooting some new promo pics in relation to their upcoming single. One of the photos actually ended up being the cover!

Red Steel by Anine Desire

And what was their request?

The request was basically “we’re planning to, among other things, release new music this year, and need some new promo photos. we love your stuff, and wondered if that is something you’d wish to create with us”. 

They had a few different formats they wanted the photos to fit for various reasons. And they wanted at least one photo ready for their new single May 24th. We booked the studio for May 1st, they made the final selection May 2nd and they had 5 finished photos by May 4th, so well within the deadline.

Can you tell us more about the planning of the shoot?

They were very open to me doing my thing or just testing a few things while in the studio. However, they only booked 2 hours so we tried to do some prep and planning over email first. I always ask if they have a vision for the shoot. Some have very clear ideas, and some don’t. Here they wanted to keep the tones to red and black ish as that’s the colours of their stage clothes etc, but didn’t really have a clearer vision. So I asked them to send me a mood board, or a collection of photos of what they like, and what they don’t like, so we can find a direction. 

I let that information brew in my head for a few days, before getting some ideas that I wanted to try. I sketched up this lovely thing here:

Red Steel by Anine Desire

The blue image is a photo I shot maybe 2 years ago, everything is done with the light, I wanted to sort of replicate/take inspiration from, but in red. We had basically one kind of complicated setup, and the two other were quick change of lights and modifiers in the studio. 

How was the setup? Where did you shoot? What did you have to prepare?

That is a very great question! For the different photos, I think we ended up using 3 different setup - and I forgot to take bts images….. 

I use a self service rental studio approximately 1 km away from where I live. I went into the studio 1 hour before the band, to try to get the first, and most complicated, light set up and ready before they arrived. There I think we ended up using my 2 Nanlight PavoTubes 30X on the floor, lighting red up on the white infinity background, combined with one Profoto D1 500. On the Profoto I put barndoors with a verryyyyy thin slit for the light to pass through, and duct taped all the places where the light might leak. Resulting in this.

Red Steel by Anine Desire

For the rest of the images, we moved the lights around, changed some modifiers and found out what we wanted there and then. The light for the last two are actually the same, just one using the flash with a medium octabox and the other using the model light on the octabox for a bit of fill light, and not the flash. They both have one pavo tube on each side. 

Red Steel by Anine Desire
Red Steel by Anine Desire

Did you have any assistants? How did the shoot go?

I usually never have an assistant, however this time I sort of had one. My boyfriend was a gem helping me carry the equipment to the studio (the pavotubes, I have at home, only the flashes are at the studio). And I also got to test the first light set up on him, which is much easier than testing light on a coat stand. When that was done, he took a nap on the sofa haha.

Once the band arrived we had maybe like a 10 min chat, saying hi, trying to remember their names, and telling them a bit about my plan and my set up. They did the finishing touches of their make-up and changed into the correct clothes, and we started shooting. It always takes some time to warm up a bit, but since they had sent me a list of what sort of poses they liked and didn’t like, we already had a great starting point. 

They seemed fairly comfortable in front of the camera as a group without me doing anything special than what I usually do. So I’m not sure if I did anything special to make them feel comfortable, besides me tripping over my own feet / accidentally walking out of my slippers, and clumsily showing them example poses.

What strategies did you employ to direct the band members? Did you provide any specific instructions?

As previously said, they mostly had control of the posing, and I just gave them small directions when needed. Like “2 cm that way”, “tilt up your chin”, “don’t lean your head too far back”, “look in the camera”, “show your band attitude”, “how do you want to appear, as a band?”.

What camera equipment and lenses did you use for the shoot, and why?

I have a Canon R6, that’s my only camera, so I used that. I also have one RF 24-105mm f/4, which is my go to for everything, and an extra wide angle RF 14-35mm f/4. I think I actually used the wide angle on the second image (the square one). Of course I also brought my different camera filters, never go anywhere without them.

Were there any particular camera settings or techniques that proved especially effective for capturing the band's energy? 

I used a slow shutter combined with the flash, telling the band to move sideways, to get the ghostly effect on picture one. Apart from that I didn’t really do anything special on the settings side. 

How did you create the double exposure effect and what was the most challenging thing?

Haha funny you should say that, because it’s not actually a double exposure. It’s the Ghost FX filter from Prism Lens FX! I love this filter so much, and use it for photoshoots and live stuff all the time. the most challenging thing is that you can’t always 100% see what you’re doing and you can get lost in the rotation and end up with something really strange. but that’s also the fun part. You can’t always predict the result, especially live when the light and artists are changing and moving so fast. In the studio you have more control of course.

Red Steel by Anine Desire

How did you approach editing and post-processing to enhance the mood and aesthetic of the photos? Did you collaborate with the band or their management team on selecting and editing the final images?

I always mark images I like during the shoot, sometimes without the band even being aware, it just happens automatically. At the end of the shoot I always get the band to go through the images and mark what they like. Sometimes we end up with a rough selection that I send when I come home, so they can choose their final images, and sometimes we actually choose the images at the shoot. Depends on mood and time etc.

When it comes to editing of this shoot, I mostly enhanced the colour, some contrasts, basically colour grading and a tiny bit of skin retouch. I haven't done too much really. Tried to separate the colours on the band and the background a bit on photo no 2 to make the band stand out more, that’s about it. I think we did one feedback round on one photo, because I had 2 different colour gradings and couldn’t decide which to use, so I gave that to the band.

As far as I know, this band doesn’t have a management, so everything went through one person of the band.

How long took the planning & shooting & editing? And how was the communication with the band? 

The communication with the band was so sooo good, and fast - thank you! I’ve become used to working with artists that can take up to 4 weeks to reply, here if they took 4 days they apologised for being slow. That was amazing! As briefly mentioned before, the planning, shooting and editing was quite fast. We had 2 hours to shoot, and I probably spent around 4 hours editing, including sending out preview photos and communicating about which photos to use. I don’t really have a good time perspective so I don’t know honestly haha but from the booking being confirmed to the images being finished it was just a couple of weeks due to date availability of everyone involved and the studio. Once the shoot was done, they had the finished material the same weekend. We had the shoot on Wednesday, finished images delivered on Sunday. 

Looking back on the shoot, what were the most valuable lessons you learned as a photographer?

That is a good question and something I never think about! Would probably be something like “when they suggest x amount of hours, just add one hour, so you can get ready in the studio before the artist arrives. Especially when you’ve never worked with them before.”. I always try to do that when possible. It was easier before, when I didn’t use a rent by the hour studio, but I make it work when I can.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were to shoot with the same band again in the future?

Another great question! In general I would’ve liked to have more space in the studio, it’s a bit small. And somewhere where I could have 2 nice light setups properly planned, and easy to change between if needed. My first idea was very planned, my second was a bit “let’s just try to do something”, and you never really know who that works with or not. For the next time, a brainstorming session around ideas wouldn’t hurt :)

Follow Anine Desire: Website | Instagram

Follow Red Steel: Instagram | Youtube | Spotify


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