Ceremonial bravado, order in chaos, adrenaline and beauty – all appear the striking “Bomba” photography book. The series was created by Thomas Prior, a photographer whose work has appeared in a wide range of prestigious publications, including The New Yorker, Avaunt Magazine, Vogue, or Time Magazine. His documentary style photography is poetic and sometimes even surreal, whether it captures athletes in action or landscapes changed by human intervention. Prior’s images, including this captivating series, are also predominantly dynamic and dramatic.
Launched through Dashwood Books, “Bomba” displays a fascinating ritual that takes place every February in San Juan de la Vega, a small Mexican town. Celebrating a four-century-old battle, hundreds of local men gather on an empty soccer field, armed with sledgehammers. But these are not ordinary work tools. The heads of the hammers have pockets of handmade potassium chlorate fertilizer. They explode in a cloud of dust and dangerous shrapnel when hit against steel rails, creating a mesmerizing effect. Captured in a moment of strength and action, the human figures at the center of the photographs display an impressive sense of movement, despite their stillness. Partly covered by the thick cloud or simply standing in front of a curtain of smoke, the men become characters in a story that begins to resemble an oil painting. Photo credits: Thomas Prior.