By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Ah, Hollywood ... it can bleed its most beloved stars and icons dry. Yeah, we know, boo-hoo, but let's face it, the more famous you become, the more perilous your existence: high-speed stalkarazzi chases, enabling sycophants brandishing substances, swag and empty sex, the undeniably brutal blogosphere.
In the controversial, celeb-heavy, often blood-splattered images of L.A. photographer Tyler Shields, this contrast between beauty and dread is definitely intentional.
Best known for eerie images of starlets — notably Lindsay Lohan — posing with weapons or as ravaging fiends, Shields initially released his photographs and videos on MySpace; he understood early on the power of online buzz and sharing.
When he began doing gallery shows, he took the foreboding feel of his images to another level, leading gallerygoers into theatrical surprises. He now releases shots on his website and makes them available for purchase via British-based A Gallery U.K., and the more controversial shots almost always make the gossip-blog rounds.
Although he's received loads of negative attention recently from women's groups and animal-rights activists — for pictures showing Glee's Heather Morris with a black eye and The OC star Mischa Barton fondling raw beef, respectively — his images don't go viral simply because of their shock value. Web surfers are intrigued by his enigmatic persona and signature style, which allow his subjects to explore dark, freaky aesthetics.
For the actresses, being shot by Shields is a subversive status symbol. "It's an interworking relationship," he tell us in his Hollywood home office. "I promote them, and they promote me."
Indeed, you can't "hire" the photog at any price, he says. No money is exchanged between artist and subject. Shields says some of his subjects have gotten film roles thanks to his pics and videos.
Though the photographer says he doesn't watch TV or pay attention to the news, his subject list is a who's who of tabloid all-stars. Lohan initially hit him up on Twitter to take pics, leading to her much-blogged shots — with a knife, with a gun, as vampire, as a done-up diva getting groped with a deer-in-the-headlights gaze. The pair also have become pals, as is the case with most of his subjects.
"I've known Tyler for five years. He's a talented photographer but also a good friend," says actress Emma Roberts, who happened to pop by Shields' abode during our interview. "He makes you want to come up with crazy stuff just to try and top the things he comes up with. I love that he always has people doing the opposite of what you'd think they would do."
Apparently we were the first to throw out the word "star-fucker" at Shields (he denies its literal truth), but there's no denying that the people he shoots and hangs out with are in an elite "club" (his words) of sorts.
Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Shields came to L.A. nine years ago and eventually began directing music videos, such as Ghostface Killah's "Biscuits" and Defari's "Spell My Name." He says all his friendships with famous peeps happened organically, many via the Internet, since he doesn't go out much.
This is one of the reasons the guy has as many critics as he does connoisseurs of his — not cheap — work. What shutterbug wouldn't be jealous of Shields' knack for getting stars to bare their souls, and sometimes more? How does he do it, anyway?
"It's a collaboration," says Glee's Jenna Ushkowitz. "I don't think he could get the shots he gets unless the artist" — that's her — "and Tyler totally believe in it. And I could only hope that the public would respect what we see as art."
Gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who often posts Shields' pics, told L.A. Weekly that Shields is "a genius photographer, a genius at spotting rising talent and befriending them, and a genius marketer." Gawker, meanwhile, in a post about the Morris controversy, quoted Shields' contention that "our shoot poses a lot of questions," and responded, "Unclear whether the participants have even the shallowest understanding of what those questions are and why they are posing them."
Controversies like Morris' "Busted Barbie" shoot also turn people off. "I'm not trying to shock," Shields contends. "I'm just trying to play with all of those things that the news and culture tell you you should be afraid of. Seeing blood and guns and violence does something to people." He eventually auctioned off Morris' shots and donated the proceeds to an anti-abuse group.
Shields' psych-play involves more than picture taking. He just released his first novel, Smartest Man, available digitally via Amazon.com. In the intro, he calls the book an "experience of the mind," an idea he plays with frequently: He often invites a select group of people to take part in secret "games" and mysterious "journeys."
The real Tyler: a fame hungry wannabe who started out as a 'pro' rollerblader vert rider who would do anything for attention. Went to L.A. and reinvented himself. What does he represent? Fakeness.
Terry Richardson wannabe? Are you fucking kidding me? This guy is so much more creative than that boring lumberjack.
I like his art. After reading this it's refreshing to find out that he works with the people he's shooting, not just being a stereotypical egomaniac photographer just yelling at everyone to do what he wants. What great artist doesn't stir up some controversy every now and then?
He makes photography fun and interesting, which in my opinion is nearly impossible to do. I think he uses violence to point out our own obsessions with the subject matter. All he does is make the art, we the people choose to react to it the way we do. Personally I'm looking forward to whatever he does next
Tyler Shields makes powerful statements with his work in a world of artistic mediocrity. Like it or not his work affects you and I think there's something great to be said for that
Commercial art. Glamourizing guns and blood... he is just delivering what the society is buying now at days.
Tyler takes things to a whole new level. Other photographers are boring bastards compared with him. He is always playing at a crazy ass level and leaving the competition crying.
I dare anyone talking shit to look at this section on his site and say hes not the best. http://www.tylershields.com/po...
Warhol or Wannabe? Who's bright idea was that? HA Tyler Shields is beyond Warhol in time he will be the biggest cross over artist of all time his films will be huge his art will be huge and I have seen him act which he is incredible at, This is just the beginning of him he's much more then a photographer he is a true artist.
I think it's funny when people only look at the work he has done with actors his art pieces are beyond anything I have seen come out of any photographer EVER. The Kill series is on another level and Cindy Sherman is a joke!
ok... Did someone REALLY just compare Tyler Shields to Cindy Sherman? Best joke i've heard all week.
fyi: Tyler Shields exhibits his photos in a gallery in the UK by a Frasier Kee Scott who is a notable Scientologist.
His technical ability is lacking, he shouldn't be allowed to call himself a photographer. He is obviously wanting the same fame as his sitters, otherwise why put his image in the 'art'. His respect for women raises a lot of questions too?Nothing ground breaking or original about the work, he is just clever with marketing.......
Naomi Cindy Sherman bores me to fucking tears, If you look at shields work as a whole it is groundbreaking and cutting edge also comparing art to art is like comparing one asshole to another you just think yours is pretty because it's your's...
Tyler Shields is a genius and there is NO body doing what he does but of course jealous photographers are gonna HATE!
These comments crack me up. Shields is better then Warhol his works are iconic with or without the stars that are in them.
Shame on you for promoting this total hack/ star fucker!!! A total talent free Juergen Teller wannabe with access to D listers only. The fact that these so call celebs let this imposter shoots them is an indication of their tastelessness/ desperation. He is not worthy to clean the toilet brush for Cindy Sherman or any real photographer.
he is a magician. he photographs the jenna chick from glee and then claims that she wrote him a 50K check for a print! that's a great trick!
After reading the article, have you even fucking looked at his work? The "book" is hardly worth mentioning and the ghostface video is a pile of shit live video.
I didn't read anything but the headline but I'm going to say wannabe and request that you shut the fuck up about this guy.