Once described as ‘Hollywood’s favorite photographer’, Tyler Shields is, as you might expect, based in Los Angeles. But he’s not just a shallow celeb-snapper. He identifies himself instead as ‘an American image-maker’.
His work, he says, plays with ‘notions of the gaze, power structures, hyper-realism, iconoclastic-tendencies and cinematographic practice’. He began his career as a director of music videos, but he now associates himself with a longer artistic tradition stretching back to Caravaggio in Baroque Europe.
He’s interested in what he calls the ‘dark romance’ of the human body, and the courage it takes to expose it to a photographer’s lens in the knowledge that the results will routinely be shared across the internet.
‘To expose yourself to the world, you and your work, naked to the global theater of billions of views, clicks, hits, image-searches, etc., is a remarkable statement within itself – to say, this is me and who I am, is powerful.’
Shields points out that, in our image-drenched online culture, we still remain primarily interested in beautiful human bodies.
And that’s one reason why his work with celebrities operates in the sphere of art photography: ‘The masquerade of celebrity is the photographer’s playground and a flash of rapture.’
One celebrity he works with often is the actor Evan Peters, best known for his work on the American Horror Story series (2011-16). One of his Shields shoots also featured a model who’ll be having a little nightmare of her own. Her name is Chelsea Debo (often shortened to Chebo), and here she is posing for some other photographers:
For the shoot in question, she needed to wear full body make-up. Here she is getting ready, with Evan Peters on the left and Tyler Shields himself on the right.
And here’s Evan with his pale, naked lady.
She was also, so it seems, a naughty naked lady