July 15, 2018 / 3:00 PM

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Backstreet Boys 'In A World Like This' Album Artwork Photographer Tyler Shields Talks NYC Art Gallery Exhibit, Iconic Salton Sea Cover [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]



Backstreet Boys' new album "In A World Like This" is a comeback record for the ages. Featuring pop-friendly hits such as the title track to heartfelt acoustic ballads like "Madeleine," the epic feel of the album had to be matched by its cover and accompanying artwork. Celebrity photographer Tyler Shields took on the challenge of shooting the Backstreet Boys, and now the pictures from their new era will be on display for the world to see.

Beginning with an exclusive, invite-only preview on Aug. 14 and continuing with an open gallery to the public from Aug. 15-18, 15 images from the "In A World Like This" era will be featured at the Openhouse Mulberry gallery in New York City.

The centerpiece of the NYC gallery show will be the album cover for "In A World Like This," which features the five Backstreet Boys standing on platforms in the middle of the Salton Sea in California. The expansive photograph is grand in every sense of the word, from the scope of the frame to the natural beauty of the sea to the stances and suits from the band..

Shortly after the album artwork was unveiled in June, it quickly became an iconic image, and Shields indicated that he knew that was always going to be the case. "I have these moments on shoots where I can see it before it happens," he told Mstars News. "When they all climbed out onto the planks they were standing on, I knew it was special before I took the photo. Just the fact that I got the Backstreet Boys to the middle of the desert and had them out there was enough. The photo was just icing on the cake."

From the moment the photograph was shot, it seemed as though no other image would work as the album artwork. Though the choice was Backstreet Boys' in the end, the Salton Sea shot was always going to cover "In A World Like This."

"I don't think anyone ever thought about it being anything else. You could feel it when we were doing it -- we all knew it was special," Shields said.

Though Shields oftentimes gets experimental in his photography, he is known for the massive size of his images in scope. See, for instance, his Suspense series, in which Shields mixes the human form with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. This is a theme in his photographs of the Backstreet Boys, and Shields said that he wanted to match the "I Want It That Way" band's massive success and sound to their imagery. "I wanted it to feel iconic and huge everything they do is huge, so I wanted to show them in a large format way something you have never seen from then in their covers and shoots," he said.

This comes through in the Backstreet Boys series. Whether the five men are lying in a desert road, having their shadows reflected on a wall or standing in a busy train yard, each and every photograph feels mature and monumental, just like the boyband itself.

Though Shields has photographed celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato and Emma Roberts, he noted that there was something special about the Backstreet Boys. The industry vets -- the group is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year -- proved to the celebrity photographer that there was a reason why they've been going strong for two decades. "It's funny, I have told them they are the best-oiled machine I have ever seen: professional, but we were laughing all the time, too," he said. "They just get it. I don't know if they were like this 15 years ago, but they are the easiest group of guys to work with and hilarious."

Backstreet Boys' history and bond together manages to shine through in the photographs, which will be on display for the public for four days. The gallery will blend the music of the band with their iconic brand and, of course, Tyler Shields' amazing artwork.

"There will be a lot of photos no one has seen and just to see the detail and to see them printed and large, they look incredible," Shields explained. "This is a big thing for music. I think these types of galleries and artists mash-ups are the way of the future. Album covers and artwork are very important, and it's exciting to have such a huge band supporting and promoting art."

Tyler Shields' Backstreet Boys photography series will be on display at Openhouse Mulberry in Nolita, New York City, for the public from Aug. 15 to Aug. 18. Fifteen photographs will be featured in the exhibition.

On Aug. 10, Backstreet Boys and Tyler Shields announced that the proceeds from the gallery show and every photograph sold will go to the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, to help alleviate the financial burden from families and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

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