—that his career as a photographer kicked off in earnest.That photo reached the right advertising honchos, landing Shields a catalogue shoot for the Magic Marketplace fashion trade show, his first paid gig.
The Birkin is an object of fetishistic devotion for fashionistas and a codified symbol of extreme privilege among the rich and thin, and fans of the bag revolted on seeing the work. With their arterial splatter and implied violence, full of fuck-me pumps and chiseled abs and unbuttoned clothing, Shields’s photos of stars behaving badly also have put him in the spotlight.
And so began an intense cyber-bullying campaign directed against Shields and Eastwood. Recently, the photographer has landed roles in two movies and a reality TV series while he prepares to direct his first feature film—even if Shields remains something of a joke in fine-arts circles and is written off as a star-fucker by his vocal detractors.
It’s an art form in itself.” Growing up in a military family in Jacksonville, Fla., however, Shields did not have art at the forefront of his mind as much as cracking into the movie biz.
At 17, he says, he drove to Los Angeles intent on becoming a director.
A new series of glossy action photos he set loose on the web last month effectively functions as the high-fashion equivalent of torture porn. Most of those people, if you saw them face to face, they’re not going to say shit.”If the 30-year old Florida native sounds blasé in the face of public outrage and potential bloodshed, it’s because he’s been down this road before.
In the pictures, Shields’s girlfriend, Francesca Eastwood—daughter of Clint and a principal player on the E! Eastwood & Company—is shown decimating an Hermès Birkin bag, first taking a chainsaw to the 0,000 crocodile purse before setting it ablaze. Shields is Young Hollywood’s de facto house photographer, a visual firebrand known for upending squeaky perceptions of youthful celebs—Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson, Emma Roberts, Twilight hunk Kellan Lutz, and Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser among them—with his brutal images that take off like viral wildfire, often resulting in floods of tabloid coverage.Tyler Shields photographed Lindsay Lohan with a gun toward her mouth, girlfriend Francesca Eastwood destroying a 0,000 Birkin bag, and ‘Glee’s’ Heather Morris sporting a fake black eye.Chris Lee on the lensman’s shock and awe work that has brought him death threats—and success.To hear Shields tell it, the project’s genesis was nothing quite so cerebral.The photos are part of an ongoing series charting the cartoonish destruction of outrageously expensive luxury items—a glorified science experiment partially inspired by the Discovery Channel’s docu-series Myth Busters. Although the cameras were trained more on Francesca than on him, the photographer is the first to admit his work benefits from the exposure.And a 2005 assignment photographing the well-connected actress-model-DJ Caroline D’Amore was a professional tipping point.