In 1984, photographer Ross Halfin was trailing Queensryche when he got an order from Metallica's manager: "Stop being an asshole and go and shoot my new band."
Halfin has since trailed the metal stars, from their early beginnings playing scrappy, run-down clubs to headlining slots at major festivals around the globe, capturing “every drop of sweat, every molecule of saliva, every out-of-place nose hair” accordingly to Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer.
The Ultimate Metallica: Photographs by Ross Halfin documents the time Halfin has spent with the band. While he hasn't always been on good terms with the guys — he went on "sabbatical" at certain points — no photographer has had such unfettered access to metal's biggest band.
As Ulrich notes in the book's foreword, "When I notice [Halfin] lurking around the stage and I have a momentary awareness of his presence, it just doesn't seem like he does all that much. But of course, as all great masters of their domain, he has his thing down. Way down. And his thing is being not only in the right place at the right time, but at the right angle, with the right perspective, the right line of site, etc. That's why he is an enigma to me. Because I often can't correlate the results with such effortlessness."
“I wanted a book that every fan of Metallica would like and want to look at again and again,” said Halfin, who decided to let a friend pick each image that eventually made the cut for The Ultimate Metallica book.
“I didn't pick any of the pictures for the book.” He said. “I let a good friend of mine - Noriaki Watanabe - go through my whole file and pick what he thought people would like to see. He's a Metallica fan and I thought it would be good to do it from a fans perspective rather than mine.”
The Ultimate Metallica: Photographs by Ross Halfin is published by Chronicle Books.