TYLER SHIELDS REFOCUSED
There is a photographer that I have admired his work and boldness, I have had his photos on my walls for years, and whose first coffee table book The Dirty Side of Glamour is dog-eared in my home. Like so many things that can become too familiar, I have forgotten about him in recent years, and then I came across an article in which he was discussing his new book, Provocateur. Probably most famous for his shoots with Lindsay Lohan, the shutterbug discussed everything from his new NSFW photography book to shooting Lohan covered in blood in his living room and many other wild experiences in his life. This is someone who makes you question everything with his work, and the interpretation behind it.
He landed on the pop culture aficionado’s radar in 2011 after photographing troubled star Lindsay Lohan drenched in blood, in her underwear, holding a butcher’s knife in one shot and with a gun in her mouth another. At the time she was about to head to jail, and even did a print of her from a previous shoot that said FREE LOHAN. At the time the media was devouring all things Lohan, and Shields was able to capitalize on that. “She must have been the most popular, if not most photographed, woman in the world at the time. People thought she was going to die, there was a lot of speculation.” Tyler told Maxim. “So when I covered her in blood, it just went crazy.”
Shields bad-boy ways have beguiled the fashion industry, from chain sawing a $100,000 crocodile Birkin and then setting it ablaze, he was amazed at how it still stood straight up due to Hermes incredible manufacturing skills, to having Mischa Barton eating raw meat and receiving death threats from it. Then there was the nude girl biting one end of another crocodile Birkin and a live unrestrained alligator biting the other, where at any moment things could have gone seriously awry. Nothing is off limits when It comes to Shield’s work.
Provocateur which hits shelves January 3rd, 2017, is a retrospective photo book from all of his past work. His career started off shooting Aaron Paul after he had only done one commercial, and he has never sought out people for being famous nor sought to be famous himself. But as Aaron’s career took off so did Shield’s, and his projects grew more grandiose. This only attracted more people who were drawn to his salacious art, driving the prices and demand for his work sky high.
Being most known for his shoots of Lindsay, Maxim asked him how they began working together. He was at Chateau Marmont where she was living at the time and a mutual friend introduced them, and she told him she was a fan of his work and would love to do something with him. He suggested Tuesday night at his house, and it was that simple. “There was no have your people reach out to my people.” Said Shields. He mentions that she had no inhibitions about doing a shoot that was cause a stir especially given the volatility surrounding herself at the time. He remembers being in a car with her being followed by forty paparazzi cars, which he later commented, “that’s a crazy life many people don’t understand.”
The blood concept came up organically when she saw a photo in his house of Matt Dallas, and suggested that they do something with blood. Shields ran with the idea and covered his whole living room in blood. Once he saw it he recalls thinking how crazy It was, but sometimes the best stuff comes from the simplest of ideas.
When asked if he gets bothered by the backlash that he gets by shooting the world’s most troubled starlet doused in blood or from chain sawing then igniting the world’s most coveted handbag, his response is quite simple. No. Because he explains that it takes more time to right hateful comments than it does to write nice ones. To him he takes negative comments as more of a compliment, and there is more effort involved to spew vitriol than admiration. Art is all about stirring up different emotions and not everyone will like it, unless you show it to five people you are related to.
His dream at the moment is to shoot Gigi Hadid, but he doesn’t chase after people to shoot as he says it’s not his style. Neither is shooting people he does not know. “There are a lot of great people I could make good stuff with you, but you never know until you meet them.” When asked why he chose the title Provocateur for the book, he explains it was a term people started referencing him as years ago, and I even remember describing his work that way to people to hadn’t heard of him or his art. “You’re never going to see an article that says, “Really nice guy takes pretty pictures.” So he not only has he embraced the term, but ran with it and made it a title that he now owns and adorns his new work. He also explains that he is constantly asked to explain in vivid detail why he chose to do something or how it happened, and while he has no problem telling stories about his work, he refuses to answer why he specifically chose to do an image, concept, or series the way he did. Tyler is a firm believer that artists should keep some mystery for themselves.
“Listen! It’s not my job to explain it or tell you what you should think about it. It’s my job to make it.” That’s what a provocateur does, and something Shield’s has made not only into an art form but a now a tangible book accessible to us all.
His book Provocateur is available for preorder on www.amazon.com or in bookstores everywhere January 3rd, 2017.