Tyler Shields. “Considered the Andy Warhol of his generation, Shields has produced images that play with notions of the gaze, power structures, hyper-realism, iconoclastic-tendencies and cinematographic practice, but his Mouthful series of works are among his best known” – Sotheby’s
Tyler Shields has made a name for himself as one of the most celebrated fine art photographers. But before the world knew Shields as the photo provocateur he is today, he seemingly lived a life as complex and diverse as his pictures.
As a child growing up in Jacksonville Florida Shields became a professional in-line skater and went on to compete in the x games and win the world championship. At an early age Shields became custom to success and the unwavering dedication that it takes to be the best. So it should come as no surprise that shortly after starting his photography career Shields became the youngest living artist to be in auction at Sotheby’s. Countless auctions later Sotheby’s deemed him “the Andy Warhol of his generation.” Stating that “Shields has produced images that play with notions of the gaze, power structures, hyper-realism, iconoclastic-tendencies, and cinematographic practice”. He has galleries with record-breaking attendance across the globe and his limited edition prints are some of the most sought-after images in the world, with a total of just 3 images ever made in each of his Available sizes. Name a celebrity and Shields has probably shot them; from Hollywood legends like Bruce Willis to industry titans like Elon Musk and everyone in between. His earliest work broke the internet with images featuring Lindsey Lohan running wild through LA, Emma Roberts jumping off of buildings and countless other young A-list stars doing what every magazine told him could not be done.
At the start of his career Shields was turned away by every magazine in publication all of which told him that there was no way a celebrity would ever shoot outside of a studio and that his lavish stunts broadcasted across every website meant nothing because and I quote “the internet was never going to replace magazines”. Today the very same magazines would need a miracle to find a time when Tyler was available for a commission with his constant revolving door of galleries. Galleries with the very images he was told would be “impossible” to take. Once you witness him in action behind the lens there are few words that can describe what shooting with Tyler Shields is like. Shields has had his models run from planes flying feet over their heads, and holding $100,000 Burkins on fire beside their faces. Not to mention his image titled Lady And The Lion where Shields had me dangle a steak over a live lion's mouth. The list of life-threatening things we have done in the name of art is a mile long. But not once have I been scared when shooting with Tyler. He makes you feel like the impossible is always possible. Perhaps that’s why his best work is nothing short of magic. The shots shouldn’t exist. People shouldn’t want to be set on fire or climb naked up an electrical tower during a wind storm, but they do and they do so happily. In fact, most people show up asking Shields to push them. Everyone is simply transfixed by his presence and is willing to do whatever needs to be done to bring his vision to life. Watching him work is when you get to see the real magic that is Shields.
In a way, he is both the photographer and the model. His vision is so clear that he will adjust you right down to your pinky finger before he takes a shot. He has perfected the art of making anyone and everyone feel comfortable in front of the lens and understood by the images he captures. Now well into his career Shields still has a never-ending list of images stored in his mind just waiting to be captured and he plans to do just that for the rest of his life. Constantly pushing the envelope and the concept of what can be done with a man and his camera.