Celebs Get Dirty In This Buzzy New Art Book

We don't blame you if you're more than a little interested in the personal lives of celebrities. For better or worse, they're just more fascinating than our everyday dealings. And, no one knows that better than Tyler Shields. He's a photographer who's been snapping A-listers in the most, well, comprising situations for years now. You may recognize him as the guy who destroyed a $100,000 Hermès Birkin bag with his girlfriend Francesca Eastwood (yes, that Eastwood), but in Hollywood he's just another member of the inner circle. He's talked Emma Roberts into jumping off a building and Ashley Greene into lying on active railroad tracks, all for the perfect shot.
His new book, The Dirty Side of Glamour, is even more boundary-breaking. It's chock-full of shocking pics, and we got our hands on a sneak peek of some of the most outrageous. We also got the lowdown from Shields himself, grilling him on the life of a celebrity photog. He reveals just how he manages to pull off these daring stunts (like, say, the Backstreet Boys in a sword fight), and what it feels like when the backlash comes a-calling. Read on for all the juicy details and more than a little eye candy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Francesca Eastwood chainsawinging a Birkin bag.

Tell us a bit about how you got started in your career. How did you gain access to celebrities for such out-of-the-box shoots?
"I started out directing music videos and I took a photo at one of the shoots that was eventually bought by a fashion trade show. This allowed me to buy a camera since I used to borrow one, which was rough. Once I had my own camera I was off to the races. I would shoot all the time, nonstop. If someone wanted to do something crazy, I wanted to shoot it. And then, actors started asking me to photograph them through MySpace, so I didn't go the traditional route. The shoots were about creating, rather than making a magazine spread, which I think people were excited about."

Tell us about your inspiration for creating this book. How did the project come about?
"I knew I wanted to make a book about something different. I wanted to have people play parts, almost like each photo was a still from a crazy movie. I wanted it to be raw and intense, and everyone was willing to do stunts and take it to the next level. This book is about pushing the boundaries."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Connor Paolo punching Nick Wechsler in the face.

Which collection of images do you think is your most powerful?
"That all depends on your perception of the photos. Some people like the 'Submerged' water series, while others like the 'Birkin' series. Most of the time, people have very different opinions of my shoots. Shooting underwater was the hardest, jumping off buildings was the most painful, and the Birkin series got the most anger."

How do you decide the theme of each celebrity shoot?
"Most of the time it just sort of happens. There was a great moment when the Backstreet Boys were hanging out in my garage, and I had all of these props just sitting in a corner. I didn't say anything about the props, but they could all see them after a while. Kevin walked over and said, 'Can I use this sword?' A few seconds later, Brian grabbed a bat. I was watching their personalities come out through their choice of weapon. It was a great social experiment, and that’s how it goes down a lot of the time."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Lydia Hearst and Alex Pettyfer in the shower.

What do you think about the backlash from your Birkin bag shoot?
"I had a conversation about this last night. People often want to know the hardest part of this job, and I like to tell them that, for some people, shooting is easy, being an actor is easy, directing is easy, writing is easy because they are enjoyable things to do. What’s not easy is to have hundreds of thousands of people perceive something you’ve created. That’s what destroys a lot of people before they even get started. At the end of the day, you are not going to please everyone and if you do, then you are not doing your job as an artist. I don't care about hate; it makes me laugh, and if you don't get it then you simply don't get it."

What shoot would you say you're most proud of? Are there any you wish you hadn't done or done differently?
"I don’t really think about what shoots I’m most proud of. I am proud of certain shoots but I don't think 'proud' is the right word. This is what I do; it’s what I was born to do. When I make a movie or shoot a photo, I don't feel proud. I just feel like I'm doing the thing I am supposed to be doing and it makes me happy."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Heather Morris with a black eye.

What did you learn from the public's reaction to your domestic violence shoot?
"About 20 minutes after I posted it, it was a week of chaos. People were showing up at my house, and a lot of upset people were very mad at me. But again, it’s art, and how you take it says a lot about you. If it affects you that much, then it’s doing its job. The weirdest part about that shoot was an email I received from a 17-year-old kid that was so racist and awful. At the end of his email he signed his full name, so I called his parents’ house and read them the email. They weren’t too thrilled."

What subjects or celebrities do you still really want to shoot?
"Floyd Mayweather and Jimmie Johnson are the top two people I’d most like to shoot. They are both the greatest of all time at what they do and I respect that."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Mischa Barton eating meat.

What would you say are the most controversial or provocative features from the book?
"Mischa Barton eating raw meat, Heather Morris with a black eye, Alex Pettyfer and Lydia Hearst in the shower, the Birkin Bag, and Zachary Quinto in the shower would be the most controversial. There’s also a photo at the end of the book on the last page that makes everyone say 'JESUS.' It’s never been released before and it’s pretty intense."
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Photo: Courtesy of Tyler Shields.
Tyler and Francesca Eastwood.

When you begin a shoot, do you have an ultimate goal? Is creating a controversy or discussion over an issue top of mind?
"My ultimate goal would be to create anything I wanted with artistic freedom, which is nearly impossible. But, I can tell you hard work and dedication is the secret. You can have whatever you want if you are truly willing to put the work in!"
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