Tyler Shields: Silhouettes
Deemed the “funnest series [he] has ever made,” Shields tests his photographic and storytelling skills in his Silhouettes collection. Having mastered the art of the portrait, the photographer takes a stylistic break from his usual shots. The subjects of the series are obscured in shadows so the viewer is left with only their sharp lines and contours. Using vintage cameras in a process that took months to perfect, Shields embraces the darkness to explore a new monochromatic narrative.
There are several familiar themes in the Silhouettes portfolio. Luxury items such as Chanel perfume and champagne bring his Indulgence collection to mind. Others, like suspended legs and models in bunny ears are callbacks to his Provocateur series. Nonetheless, Silhouettes marks a venture from his previous portraits and photographs, which revolve heavily around vivid expressions. He writes, “I’ve spent the majority of my photography career avoiding harsh shadows in an image, but the series changed all that it was no longer about avoiding the darkness but creating it.” Even in a new form, Shields’ affinity for glamour shines through. The shots air the same timeless feel as some of his other photographs; one he describes as feeling like “[they] could have been taken yesterday or 50 years ago.”
There are levels of dualism in the images Shields creates. The obvious contrast of light and dark speaks to the sense of freedom that’s found in anonymity. By focusing on form, Shields is able to create something from nothing and achieve the same level of storytelling as his previous collections. His pieces manage to conceal the hard work that goes into the final product. Shields insists there’s a difference between “taking an image” and “making an image.” From finding the right film, camera, and light combination, to timing the perfect shot, there were many trials and errors that had to be overcome for his vision to come to life. As Shields says himself, “If hard work is done correctly the viewer see’s only effortlessness.”
Shields’ polished collection allows the viewer to focus on the models and props exactly as he intends for them to be. Whether it’s a perfectly timed shot like Ballerina Silhouette or the eruption of liquid in Two Glasses of Champagne, his painstaking execution pays off. Shields is able to capture a specific moment in time that is both natural and meticulous.
View the full Tyler Shields: Silhouettes collection here.