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5 Questions for Celeb Photographer Tyler Shields

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Most photographers, when working the red carpet or staging photo shoots with celebrities, try to capture the glamorous, beautiful and the other-wordly qualities that separate stars from us mere mortals. But for L.A.-based photographer and filmmaker Tyler Shields, his idea of the money shot is a little different. In addition to lipstick and stilettos, he accentuates his photos with blood, black eyes and weapons.

To say that some of his work with young Hollywood has been controversial is an understatement. He’s received plenty of complaints and event death threats—such as when he photographed Mischa Barton eating a raw steak or when he photographed girlfriend Francesca Eastwood obliterated a $100,000 Hermes Birkin bag for art’s sake.

Out today is Shields’ first book-length collection of photography, The Dirty Side of Glamour (HarperCollins/It Books), which features 130 stunning, sometimes shocking and even unrecognizable, photos of celebs like Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, Justin Long, Emily Vancamp, Ashley Greene, Josh Hutcherson and others.

We had a chance to ask Shields a few questions about his new book and his work:

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You worked with a number of celebs in The Dirty Side of Glamour. Is it a collaborative process between you and the subject when coming up with an idea for an image / entire shoot?

It’s always something we do together. I have a lot of ideas but part of the fun with shooting amazing people is that they have amazing ideas. There’s great freedom working with talented people.

Your work is provocative. Do you intentionally try and push the limits each time you shoot?

I don’t set out to upset people, I only set out to shoot something in the moment. It’s always funny and interesting to see how certain people view things because it’s very different from how I view them. To me, it’s not shocking at all but that’s the fun of being an artist. It allows people to have their own idea of what you create and why.

There are no captions or IDs in your new book. Was that intentional? How will we ever know who was in the Storm Trooper costume? Or who's in the oven with red stilettos?

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That’s part of the “dirty side of glamour,” and some of the most famous people in the book are in those photos. I loved the idea of having people playing parts. You may never know who’s the Storm Trooper or in the panda suit, but we do, and that’s our own little inside game—which I might add is a fun game to play!

Is there a subject / image that you won't take? Is there anything too taboo for Tyler Shields?

No, I’ve shot things that I haven’t released, and may never release, but that’s a whole different story. In my opinion, you never want to censor your mind. You can always choose what to release but you should create what you want and then figure out what to do with it later.

Most memorable photo shoot (not necessarily from the book) and why?

They all have a great story. There’s always something crazy that happens! One of my favorite shoots happened on my birthday a few years ago when I got a good group of friends together and we shot for 16 hours jumping off buildings and getting beat up. It was an incredible day and one of the photos from that day is of Emma on the first page of the book. That was the day I started the “Suspense” series and it always makes me happy to think about it.

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Works by Tyler Shields are currently on view at the Guy Hepner Gallery in WeHo.