Thrashing the Light Fantastic

Brightly colored portraits of heavy-metal serenity

Jacob Ehrbahn has a dangerous passion: The Danish photographer has spent the last several years wading into mosh pits with a very expensive camera. Why? To capture heavy-metal lovers mid-headbang. “Most of the shots I didn’t look through the viewfinder because it was too dangerous,” he said to Slate. “They’re screaming and flying into your camera. You could end up with the camera in your brain.”
Ehrbahn took nearly 14,000 photos in this hail-Mary manner before selecting less than 100 for his forthcoming book, Headbangers. Thanks to a very bright flash, Ehrbahn is able to freeze the neck-aching maneuver in shocking detail. Vibrating, frizzy balls of hair are transformed into painted strands of light. The frenzy of the music is made quiet. The concertgoers no longer flail with abandon; they are paralyzed in pure euphoria.
Since many of the shots were taken from below, the sky serves as the background, adding another ethereal layer to the images. The traditional tropes of denim and leather are there too, of course, but even if you don’t like Slipknot, Ehrbahn’s images are worth a look.