The Stun Gun Photoshoot: Portraits of People's Faces When Hit With A Stun Gun

As a portrait photographer, I am always trying to make people feel comfortable in front of my camera so I can capture a real emotion from them.  But what if I was able to make people feel so uncomfortable in front of the camera that I could guarantee an interesting portrait every time?  This is the idea behind my latest series:  The Stun Gun Photoshoot.  I've edited two different videos as well as a behind the scenes in the full post below.

Like many photographers, I have a ton of ideas floating around that I think would be great to explore.  This idea for a photo series showing people the second they are hit with a taser or stun gun has been something I have wanted to photograph for almost a year now.  Despite all the barriers it presented and the countless people who thought I was a sadist, crazy, or just outright irresponsible, I decided to finally stop talking about this idea and actually execute it.  The results were pretty hilarious.  

taser photoshoot patrick hall
patrick hall photography taser photoshoot
tazer photoshoot patrick hall
people getting tazed

The Gear:

I explain the entire setup in the Behind the Scenes video below but I'll outline it here as well.  For the camera, I decided to shoot with the new Nikon D810 DSLR.  It has 36mp which allowed me to shoot a little less tight and still retain a high amount of resolution if I needed to crop.  Having people jumping around in the frame can make it difficult to compose the perfect shot so I often shot a little wider to give me some flexibility.  The lens used was the Nikkor 70-200 2.8 because it gives a nice compression to the portraits. 

For the slow motion videos, we used two Sony FS700 cameras.  These relatively inexpensive professional video cameras are all the buzz right now because they can film amazing High ISO 1080 video at 240 frames per second.  It's pretty cool to see this footage in such detail at these super fast frame rates.  For the lenses, I wanted the video to match the still shots so we used another Nikon 70-200 2.8 lens on one camera and the Canon 70-200 2.8 lens on the second camera.  

The overall lighting setup was pretty simple.  I used in total 3 Profoto D1 1000 Watt heads to craft the light on my subjects.  The key light was fitted with a small 2.7 x 2.7 softbox with the front diffusion panel removed to increase the contrast.  To help edge out my subjects from the background, I setup a larger 2' x 3' softbox behind and above my subjects.  The final D1 Monoblock was placed behind my subject to the left of the camera to give an even stronger edge light from the side.  In order to produce the fastest flash duration, I set my key light to full power (10) and set a correct exposure on my camera to compensate for the high amount of flash.  

When I envisioned this event, I knew I wanted to keep my subjects separated from the crowd and also have a clean background to film them against.  Instead of messing with paper or fabric backgounds, we setup two 7'x8' Lastolite Hilite backgrounds to form a little cove.  These Hilites are really useful for location shooting because they are easy to break down and can be used as HUGE softboxes if you fire lights inside of them.  

The Reactions:

Each person was tazed by their friend or significant other which created an interesting dynamic in itself.  The emotions on both sides of the taser were extremely entertaining to watch.  The person getting tazed was almost always nervous and jittery with either a sense of fear or anxiety.  The participants doing the tazing had a different demeanor altogether.  Most of them were excited to cause pain to their friend and only showed remorse immediately after executing the shock.  I wanted to record both of these reactions and you can see  a second slow motion edit of both people's reactions in the video below:

Extended Version of The Taser Photoshoot:

What I found most interesting about the reactions people showed while getting tazed was you never knew how they would react.  Some people screamed while others were quiet.  A few people looked like they were experiencing pleasure while others had the most painful faces I've ever seen.  I saw jumpers and fallers.  People laughed and people cursed.  I even had about four guys and girls who did not react at all and seemed to be completely unphased by the 300,000 volts of electricity.

Overall the entire photoshoot and event was a huge success.  I was able to photograph roughly 100 people in a single night and instantly created a unique portfolio full of taser reactions.  If you want to hear my thoughts on how I created this idea, built up the photography lighting, planned the slow motion shots, and hosted the entire event, check out the behind the scenes video below:

Behind the Scenes:

To view all the photos from this series, check out the full gallery at Patrick Hall's Stun Gun Photoshoot Gallery.

The Taser Photoshoot
patrick hall taser photoshoot
photos of people being tazed

people getting tazed by police

photos of people being hit with stun gun
photos of girls being tazed orgasming
photos of people having orgasm but being tazed
studio shots of people being tazed

girls orgasming on camera
black men being tazed
people getting tased tazer photoshoot
patrick hall photography taser photoshoot
girls getting tased with stun gun
taser photoshoot


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Previous comments

Yea, this was 11 on a scale of 10; it felt like a hundred yellow jackets. I wasn't worried about electrocution when I jumped in the lake since I broke the circuit when I dropped the pliers.

Peter Nord's picture

People have lost fingers. I wrote instructions on this stuff years ago. Included, take off jewelry.

I wasn't thinking about that. I'm right-handed, but my left hand had better access to the battery. Two doctors, one a friend who saw me after it happened and my regular doctor who I saw the next day, told me afterwards that they thought I would lose the finger. My GP gave me instructions for cleaning and care, but after a few days, I got depressed after seeing nothing happening. I went to the nurse at work and said "Don't worry, this didn't happen here." and told her what happened and the care. She suggested adding hydrogen peroxide as part of the cleaning process; that hurt like hell, but I started seeing results. I knew that my finger would be intact.

Paul Bradley's picture

What they got is called a "dry stun". It feels like someone punches you really hard and then there's nothing.

woah bad accident man... I served in my country's artillery division as compulsory national service. the training sergeant warned us about the lead batteries by placing a spanner to short circuit the battery. He pressed a tad too hard the whole spanner's head melted and sputtered around. luckily no one got hurt.

Dr. Hall, you are a sick puppy... which is why we like you so much! Love the captures.

Arthur Ward's picture

This is absolutely brilliant!!!! Ridiculously creative! Perhaps one of the most creative ideas I have seen all year! Well done Patrick!

Hi Ody's picture

I actually find the photos of the people before the stun gun more interesting. The anticipation is quite a study.

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Joshua Blanton's picture

This was amazing I had a great time and hope that one day I can be as good as y'all are! If you ever need assistance in any way even if it's just bringing you coffee or carrying stuff I would be honored to do it just to learn something from y'all. Once again amazing amazing job!!!!

Chris Blair's picture

Love it, very creative.

Frank Jur's picture

You have a very creative eye sir. My hat's off to you. It reminded me of the photo that Philippe Halsman took of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who he had asked to jump for the photo ( These odd posings and/or actions seem to get to the spirit of the people. Also my compliments to your models and crew.

This had to be one of the most fun photo shoots you've ever done. Very dynamic! I dunno about that girl with the short hair, though...she seemed to enjoy it just a little too much. :)

Ken Dunlop's picture

Very cool! I love the video explaining the set up!! Great work!

cqphoto's picture

how did you guys find 100 people? did you send out a facebook invite?! or did you offer people on craigslist $20???

For me personally it crosses the inspiration/plagiarism line a little bit.

Patrick Hall's picture

This is a really interesting thought. I have always questioned a musician's credibility when their song sounds exactly like a popular song. How could they ripped another artist off? But in this case, I have never heard of this Nymphomaniac movie until yesterday and yet the concept is pretty similar. I think it just goes to show how unoriginal most ideas are AND how easy it is to correlate two events that actually have nothing to do with each other. These images are so awesome for the theme of that movie though. Maybe I'll watch it this weekend.

As for musicians, I really recommend this series.

To your second point. With the amount of creative work being generated every minute in digital age almost every idea seams unoriginal and we see connections between projects (even if there are none) on a daily basis. I remember being really impressed with the posters for Nymphomaniac so this resemblance might be bigger in my head then it really is. Nonetheless, I really like the outcome of your work (which I failed to mention in my first post) and community approach to the whole project.

As for the movie itself I definitely recommend it (as any film from Von Trier).

Patrick Hall's picture

I'll have to check out both the series and the film.

I think we usually want to believe that someone is ripping off someone else when two ideas are similar. The Nymphomaniac posters are clearly a clever way to advertise the movie. I had no idea my series would produce the orgasmic reactions they have received until after I looked at the images (actually I could tell during the event itself). The test images mainly produced images of pain. Stylistically they are very different but the actual people do share similarities. Does anyone know if Von Trier or the photographer actually made the actors reach orgasm or were they simply acting?

In the actual film he famously used pornstar "stunt doubles" and superimposed actors' faces in post production within more revealing scenes. I don't know how about the posters, though.

Keith Walters's picture

Made my day!

Christian Berens's picture

That's hilarious, awesome and I would never be a subject of that....maybe hahaha
Dumb question, but what's the lighting setup? lol

Michael Bonocore's picture

Greatest. Idea. Ever.

Hmmmmm... ouch but nice expressions on the participants.
the photos having "Ouch"... but the video expression they pretty much looks they enjoy it .

So how many of the models need fresh underwear afterwards? Lol

Linus Pettersson's picture

HAHAHA Love this!!! especially the expressions of the ones tasing! =) haha

It reminds me of the poster for Lars von Trier's movie Nymphomaniac =)

Edit: And now I noticed that I wasn't the first to have that thought in this thread.

Marco Specht's picture

Thats sooo Nymphomaniac ... lol
You should have titled it like that. Great idea!

Anonymous's picture

Hahaha! Brilliant

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