Tyler Shields
May 19, 2015 03:45 PM

“No matter what age you are and no matter where you were, tragic moments in history such as 9/11, [the assassination of] JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., impact us,” Los Angeles-based photographer Tyler Shields says of his new exhibition, “Historical Fiction.”

Shields was interested in capturing “how people used to get their news versus how they get it now,” he tells PEOPLE. To that end, “Historical Fiction” prominently features its subjects reading actual vintage papers covering notable and frequently tragic events from 20th century America.

Teen Wolf star Holland Roden is front and center for Woman’s Shock at the Death of a President, which features the star clutching a copy of The New York Times detailing Kennedy’s assassination. (Nathan Fillion also pops up in a photo and video portion of the exhibit.)

“I worked with Holland on ‘Submerged,’ ” Shields says. “But I’d never shot her above water. I literally did not have one pic of her on dry land.”

Holland‘s favorite era is the Sixties,” Shields continues. “This is something we’d talked about, putting together this image of the moment when this woman has just walked down the street and picked up a newspaper, and this is her reacting in the moment. Obviously it’s set up, but I wanted it to feel as non-set-up as possible.”

The props and wardrobe are period-accurate as well: “I got the papers from all around the world. The JFK one came from a collector in Canada and the wardrobe is all authentic, from various vintage stores.”

Working with Roden, Shields says he was impressed by “how quickly she was able to get so into it. We’d say, ‘Okay, we’re ready,’ and within a minute, she could transform. The image is so striking, you see these tears welling in her eyes I think it’s one of the most powerful portraits in the series.”

“Historical Fiction” will be shown at the Andrew Weiss Gallery in Santa Monica, California, until June 30.

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