• 08.26.14

The Range of Faces People Make While Being Tasered Is Surprisingly Vast

This photo series of people being tasered presents faces that go shockingly beyond “violent mask of terror”

Out of context, photographer Patrick Hall’s new series looks like something completely different from what it actually is. If you were to come upon these photos with no point of reference, you would probably assume that at least some of the shirtless subjects, shot from the shoulder line up, were in various states of ecstasy. Indeed, these folks look similar to the actors in the character posters for Co.Create favorite, Nymphomaniac, all of whom are supposed to be in the throes of orgasm. Rather than sexual excitement, though, what’s coursing through the people in the more recent images is electric current from the tasers that are tasering them.


Photographs depicting people in pain can be hilarious, whether they’re falling down hard or getting hit in the head with things. Series meant to show off physical pain, however, are often staged, as the case with the two above examples. Emotionally painful photo series set out to capture actual pain, like the photographer who informed his friends and family, one at a time, that he was HIV-positive and took their portraits as the information was sinking in. The aptly named “Taser Photoshoot” series captures the rawness of the unstaged category, with the humor inherent in images of physical calamity.

Even knowing what’s about to happen to them, the subjects of Hall’s photos seem to not have been adequately prepared for the feeling itself. The range of emotions on display here is heavy on surprise, but it also contains terror panic, reluctant submission, utter discomfort, and even perhaps some unexpected bliss. At least the participants were indeed aware of what was happening to them. Nobody usually gets that luxury. As the recent protests in Ferguson have revealed anew, sometimes the force authorities will use to subdue people is excessive on a level of tasers and beyond–and it might come without sufficient warning. With that connection in mind, it seems almost in bad taste to unveil a photo series showing off the lighter side of restraint, but perhaps we’ll chalk that up to a case of poor timing–something that is the photographer’s enemy.

Watch the behind the scenes video below.

h/t to 22 Words

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.