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:

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
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girls getting tased with stun gun

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To view even more photos of people getting tazed, head over to The Taser Photoshoot

 

 

 

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92 Comments

Previous comments
Simon Dyjas's picture

wow Lee looks like he's having too much fun!

Lowell Mason's picture

Cracking series. I still wouldnt serve myself up for this however hahaaaa

Anonymous's picture

Woah sketchy, someone's heart could of stopped.

Stacy Havrilack's picture

Amazing! I love it! My daughter is one of the girls being shocked. Where can I view the whole video and the video of her shocker? It's not part of the extended version. Love your work!

Jason Ranalli's picture

Congrats..you made the NYDailyNews!!

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/photographer-shoots-portraits-p...

If you think the comments are juicy here wait until folks reply on that!

ryan miller's picture

It's amazing Master Patrick Hall

Ouch! At least it wasnt the type of taser that shoots out prongs... I've seen a police demonstration of one and if the guy didnt have two people to catch him would have fallen flat on his face, while WRITHING in pain!

Rick Starr's picture

Well done! At first I thought this was going to be a little brutish and sensational, but seeing the full event with shockers as well as shockees, and the slow motion captures interlaced with portraits makes a very intimate and evocative presentation. Very nice.

Gabriel Cruz's picture

Hey Patrick, just wanted to let you know that your projet is on the home screen of a very important news portal down here in Brazil:
http://oglobo.globo.com/blogs/pagenotfound/posts/2014/08/26/projeto-arti...

Congrats! It is a very authentic idea, worth sharing.

Randy Newlin's picture

Too funny, from the looks of it I'd say a few of the ladies enjoyed it. Haha but seriously a great concept for a shoot.

Anonymous's picture

If you said you took pictures of people taking dumps instead, I wouldve believed you :)

John Skinner's picture

You guys made CNN worldwide !

Ya just can't buy coverage like that... Get concept, great images.. FStoppers is a lot of fun.

seoras logan's picture

I find this a rather sick and juvenile idea, what next real torture. Inflicting pain on anyone, even volunteers is not on, especially just for a laugh.

Was there a medic on hand.

GREAT!!!!
Does anyone know the Music playing in the background from the extended Video?

chris smith's picture

nice!!!!

Karma Wilson's picture

Congrats Patrick. Seeing this EVERYWHERE on my feed. Great idea and execution. (oops, bad pun) :)

Don't understand 1 thing. At 7m18s he says that he got blurred images due to low power and that he corrected that by shooting at full power. Looking at the details shown at both pictures I see a bit larger aperture and the rest of the settings are the same (except the power of the lights). But to get the sharper images he should have used faster shutterspeed? Or am I wrong?

Patrick Hall's picture

I've adressed this above Kees, but basically I typed the wrong settings in the video. The shutter speed cannot freeze action at 1/250 of a second which is the max sync speed of a Nikon D810. Therefore what you want to do is set an exposure that is black when no flash is firing and then set your flashes with the fastest burst of light possible. For the profoto d1 series, that happens at full power.

We also moved the key light around so even if the settings did not change drastically, the light fallout can change greatly because the key light was so close to the subject. Basically I could have moved the flash back 2' and kept the settings close to the same because a whole stop of light was lost with that small movement.

Perhaps it's just me for I just do not get this work !

Why pain/harm anyone to create images even if its with their permission & understanding ?

Just makes little, to no sense ( more the later than the former ) !

Did the author really think through the consequences of such a shoot ?

Remain disappointed with the reactions as well ( not because they are different than mine ), but because, again, the consequences to "approve" of such works is questionable !!

Karma Wilson's picture

Hmmm. Trying to understand here. Do you object to the Ice Bucket Challenge? I mean, that inflicts a lot of pressure and a challenge to do something physically uncomfortable.

These weren't tasers with the wires, which cops can use at a much higher voltage (I think...correct me if I'm wrong Patrick), but stun guns. The shock is painful, but not debilitating....but painful enough to demonstrate--visibly--how much discomfort can happen to a human body with the same kinds of tools that are used daily in the police force, often unconstitutionally so. I don't know the exact reason Patrick took these photos, but for me, a mother who had my son tased while he wasn't engaging on cops, I was quite happy to see this photographic illustration. I like people understanding exactly what is happening, on the lowest least dangerous level, so they may understand the harm of the highest levels this tool may be used.

Patrick hit this article at exactly the right time. There have been several tasing tragedies. Most people do not understand, that the reaction to tasing (which Patrick captured so well)--that physical release of the bodily functions---is what kills people. Often victims of tasing fall to the ground and hit their head on something very hard. It happened to an 77 yr old Alzheimer's patient in the county next to me. I am thankful my son was laying on the ground when tased.

So yea, this work is important. We aren't laughing at pain, or at least I"m not. We are rejoicing at real documented information about a very controversial topic. Again, thanks Patrick.

So...what about lighting for the videos? Simply the modelling lights? Do those Airs pump-out enough light for the High-Speed Slo-mo

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah we just used the modeling lamps. Luckily the Somy FS700 does really well in low light. I think we were at f2 with the meta bones adapter, ISO 1600 at 1/250.

Gotcha. I'm always trying to figure out the best method for shooting hybrid. Thanks for the reply

These are so cool!!! Good study of human face expressions.

Taylor Fischer's picture

I was in the shoot and made it in the video :) lots of fun by the way. I was wondering if more photos are going to be uploaded? I'm looking to have a very ugly but awesome profile picture! haha

Patrick Hall's picture

Not every single photo turned out great but I will post more once I get back in the states. Go to charlestoncommercialphoto.com to see most of the ones I posted.

ha ha, these look like the posters for the movie "Nymphomaniac":

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2013/10/10/1381417...

Paulo Macedo's picture

The shutter sound of this! Tzzz tzzz tzzz tzz!! There's something sexual about this pictures, maybe the expressions...

This was a cool idea for a shoot. However I now have to ask, why is this still on the front page of the website 3 months later? is my computer broken or is this just shameless self-promotion?

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