TYLER SHIELDS

MAKING PHOTOS THAT WILL LAST 1000 YEARS

I had a collector who owns a few of the very famous Irving Penn dye transfers and platinum palladium prints. I remember seeing the quality and thinking, ‘What is this type of print?’ It turns out it’s the highest quality of color and black and white printing that exists in the world. The only problem is that Kodak, without any warning, stopped making the chemicals for it in the 90s. A few people bought up what was left, including one of Irving Penn’s previous printers. So, I tracked him down.

Los Angeles-based photographer Tyler Shields wasn’t sure how long the remainder of the chemicals needed for making dye transfers and platinum palladium prints would last. Cared for properly, these prints can last for hundreds of years without color fading or loss of quality. “If I have the chance to make something that can last up to a thousand years, I’d be a fool not to do it. I wanted to have a piece of that history,” says Tyler. Using his Hasselblad 503CW, Tyler did just that.

DYE TRANSFER PRINTING

Dye transfer prints are renowned for their outstanding color depth and stunning quality that is unlike anything else. Starting out as a black and white print, the colors are individually hand rolled on with film-like sheets called matrix film that is soaked in tubs of cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes. Requiring extreme precision every step of the way, if any of the matrix film is off by the tiniest millimeter when being rolled onto the final image, the whole photo is ruined.

Red Lips
Camera: Hasselblad 503CW
© Tyler Shields

Orchestrating these images to be specific dye transfer photos, Tyler wanted to test the richness of color with the luscious, painted red lips and the various tones and shadows in Catwoman. “Once I saw the final print, I finally understood that there’s nothing else that has this look to it. I didn’t even get the Red Lips print out of the studio before it was purchased,” explains Tyler.

Catwoman
Camera: Hasselblad 503CW
© Tyler Shields

Dye Transfer Printing Process with Tyler Shields

PLATINUM PALLADIUM PRINTING

Not only are platinum palladium prints known to last for a thousand years, but each print is a unique piece of art with beautifully deep monochrome shades.

In short, the necessary chemicals are mixed and “painted” onto the printing paper. After the paper has had time to dry, the film negative is put on top, and together, they are placed in a special UV light machine. Afterwards, the image is put in a tub of water and the chemicals used to develop the image are thrown onto the paper. The image develops immediately.

Swim Cap
Camera: Hasselblad 503CW
© Tyler Shields

For the platinum palladium print, I took the portrait of the lady in the swim camp. I found a swim cap from the 40s that had never been opened. It would be more authentic I thought; I wanted that photo to literally look like it could have been taken in the 20s or 30s. The print does something to the image. It gives it something special. You don’t understand it until you do it.

Platinum Palladium Printing Process with Tyler Shields

ABOUT TYLER SHIELDS

Starting out as a pro rollerblader in his youth, Los Angeles-based image creator Tyler Shields traded in his skates for a camera and started to film and photograph skaters and create music videos when he was 17. As he began to shoot more and more, he looked into the top of the line camera and came across Hasselblad. “If it’s good enough for the moon, it’s good enough for me,” said Tyler about his first Hasselblad 500C. Exploding cars, covering models in paint, and hanging out of a window on the fourteenth floor of a hotel are normal days of work for this raw, innovative artist who goes to any lengths to get his shot. See more of Tyler’s work here.

ERIK JOHANSSON

DRAINED MEMORIES

Using his H6D-50c, Hasselblad Ambassador Erik Johansson explores the relatable notion of nostalgia and the idea of a how a time and place used to be in our memories in his piece Drained Memories.

Read next story

Mats Lind

Abstract Art on the Slopes

Instead of shooting standard sports photographs, Mats Lind wanted to create abstract images of the world’s best skiers gliding down the slopes. With only a second to capture his subjects as they sped by him at 100 km per hour, Mats blended multiple exposures together to create painting-like imagery that illustrates the exhilaration of competing for a world championship title.

Read more

BROCK ELBANK

HOW DO YOU C ME NOW?

Over a span of 33 months, Brock Elbank photographed 30 individuals with Congenital Melanocytic Naevus (CMN), an extremely rare birthmark that can cover up to 80% of the body which less than 1% of the world’s population is born with.

Read more

HANS STRAND

LOFOTEN LANDSCAPES

Known for its dramatic scenery and arctic beaches, Hans Strand took both the H6D-100c and H3D with him to capture the Norwegian archipelago’s diverse environments.

Read more

KARL TAYLOR

THE VALLEY OF LITTER

British photographer and Hasselblad Ambassador Karl Taylor decided to make a drastic statement; with volunteers collecting thousands of pieces of garbage from the nearby coastline, Karl staged studio shots with the H6D-100c using a baby placed at centre stage in the valley of litter.

Read more

COMMEMORATING 100 YEARS

SID AVERY AND HIS HASSELBLAD

Audrey Hepburn. James Dean. Elizabeth Taylor. Iconic American photographer Sid Avery photographed them all, many of the shots taken with his Hasselblad 500C.

Read more

THE STORY BEHIND

Herring & Herring

Creative maestros Dimitri Scheblanov and Jesper Carlsen combine to form one of the most talented photography teams in the world of celebrity and music photography, Herring & Herring.

Read more

THE FIRST HASSELBLAD 1600F

As a passionate photographer fascinated by bird watching, Victor Hasselblad wanted to create a camera that could capture the beauty of nature and easily fit in his hand – a portable, high-quality piece of technology.

Read more

TOM OLDHAM

THE LAST OF THE CROONERS

Portrait photographer Tom Oldham's award-winning series, The Last of the Crooners, features a group of jazz musicians found right at his local pub, The Palm Tree, in East London.

Read more