Celebrity Portraits Reveal “Dirty Side Of Glamour:” Tyler Shields’ Controversial Photographs

by Brenda Pitt


In his new book, titled “The Dirty Side Of Glamour,” the photographer Tyler Shields unveils a subversion of conventional celebrity portraiture. The artist, known for his liberal use of blood and guns in his portraits of Lindsey Lohan, is showcasing new shots of celebrities in erotic and often perverse or unsettling positions. 

Interestingly, he addresses the raw, shocking content with the polished, candy-coated palette and high resolution normally associated with fashion photography or editorial portraiture. In other words, they’re ugly images photographed as if they’re beautiful. Maybe even as something the artist is trying to sell.  

Amazon describes the book as “a visual commentary on fame, excess, youth, the trappings of celebrity, and the power of letting go,” but it’s unclear to critics and viewers alike if it’s a condemnation of or a tribute to our culture and the way we treat celebrity. 

Although the image of Heather Morris with a glowingly violet black eye evokes terror and fury, some of the images actually present a euphoric and sexualized version of excess. For instance, the photograph of his girlfriend taking a chainsaw to a violently red Hermes bag reads like a suggestion to some deeper erotic or material fantasy. 

The photographic power of the images lies in this ambiguity: is fame evil or beautiful? But for me, Sheilds’ combination of the erotic and the brutally violent seems like an upsetting shock tactic that doesn’t quite have the critical edge needed to tap into deeper themes. It’s not just uninteresting but also profoundly harmful to see violence sexualized without some greater creative or emotional impetus, as there is in the work of someone like David Lynch. I don’t see that here, but I might be wrong. What do you think of Shield’s new work? Please let us know in the comments!


Thanks to Flavorwire

Images via Flavorwire/Tyler Shields

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