Shields began his photography career by posting pictures to MySpace."
His work often involves images of violence and splattered blood. He collected blood from 20 celebrities to make a piece of art for his Life Is Not a Fairytale exhibit in Los Angeles and also photographed Lindsay Lohan as a vampire for that exhibit.
In 2010, Shields photographed actress Lindsay Lohan in studio portraits brandishing a gun. Shields also appeared to stage the "shooting" a partygoer with a gun that year at the release party for his book Collisions, as an appropriated piece of performance art en homage to the cans of Fluxus artist Piero Manzoni and in imitation of 70s Los Angeles performance artist John Duncan along with a student in the department of New Genres at UCLA in the 1990s (among others).
In 2012, Shields released a photograph of his then-girlfriend Francesca Eastwood burning, sawing, and biting an alleged $100,000 HermèsBirkin Bag for a photoshoot. The public responded badly due to the $100,000 that the bag was purchased for just to be destroyed.
On 12 November 2013 Shields released his photography book The Dirty Side of Glamour through Harper Collins and IT books, which features Emma Roberts, Brittany Snow, and others.
Shields was also criticized for a photoshoot with Glee star Heather Morris with a bruised eye as making light of abusive treatment of women. Shields later apologized after receiving death threats saying "if you are anti-domestic abuse spread the word about it. Threatening to kill me is not going to help anything."
During an Auction at the Phillips Auction house in London, on November 18th 2014 for an auction titled "PHOTOGRAPHS" Tyler Shields work "Kodak" was featured along side Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst and William Eggelstone,
Black List & Sundance
On December 15 2014, the Sundance Institute announced the Black List (top un-made screen plays of 2014). Shields' script "The Wild Ones" was listed in the top ten, being ranked at #6.