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February 9, 2023

James Hetfield of Metallica Performing in Turin, Italy, 1991

James Hetfield, singer and guitarist of the American heavy metal band Metallica, performing live in Turin, Italy, 1991. The photograph were taken by Ross Halfin.

“I first shot Metallica in 1984. Their drummer, Lars Ulrich, would call me me up, and I kept avoiding him. I’d seen pictures of him, and I thought he was just this Danish guy who looked like a complete idiot. But then Metallica’s manager, Peter Mensch, called me and said: ‘Listen, stop being such an asshole. Go to San Francisco and shoot my new band.’ So I did, and that was the start of my relationship with them. In fact, the only reason I ended up shooting Metallica was because they wanted Iron Maiden’s photographer – I was working for them at the time. To Metallica, Led Zeppelin (who I also worked with) meant nothing. But Iron Maiden meant something and Metallica wanted their photographer. I’ve worked with them ever since. I’ll give the group their due: they are very conscious of who they are, what they do and how they want to be photographed. But they are also very open to doing different things.

“I am a rock photographer, not just hard rock or metal. I am particularly known for metal because I worked for Kerrang! magazine in the 1980s, but that was more because instead of going to Leeds to shoot the Pet Shop Boys, I could go to Hawaii to do Aerosmith. Where would you rather go? And at the time the National Union of Journalists made sure that if you shot color you were paid twice as much as for black and white, and Kerrang! was full color.”


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