There’s nothing more refreshing than to see a photographer rethink a been-there-done-that concept. In the case of Tyler Shields—whose “Historical Fiction” project is exhibiting at the Andrew Weiss Gallery in Santa Monica, California, through June 30—he rethought the idea of recreating historical moments by instead imagining and shooting reactions to and other related occurrences of those moments (think salon ladies reacting to Marilyn Monroe’s death, her pill bottles, etc.).
One of the shots he talks about in-depth was actually the photo he says started the entire series for him, of a girl in a blue dress running from a low-swooping yellow plane in the middle of a corn field. Posting a sneak peek of it on Instagram (@thetylershields), he called it “one of the single most difficult photos” he’s taken, he says, and “one of the most rewarding. No composite, no computer effects, just a 1 frame per second camera and one chance to get it. For me this was a perfect life moment, a moment that you can never train for, a moment that when it comes you have to just take it for what it is, and those moments are rare but always magical!”
Known for his often dark, dangerous and provocative work, “Historical Fiction” is much less controversial than what people might be used to seeing from him (the photographer’s shot of a model wrestling an Hermès bag from a crocodile’s mouth, among other things), though he did include a big statement shot that he says has been fairly polarizing—check it out, plus what it’s like to put on an exhibition, in the video below.