Lance Shields was born in 1969 in Puerto Rico and was raised in the mountains of San Diego, CA. While growing up in the small town of Julian, CA he was introduced to film photography by his science teacher and next-door neighbor and he became a kid photographer for a local youth newspaper. Later in high school in Pittsburgh, PA, he was the school yearbook photographer and spent countless hours in the school darkroom.

He later went to fine art school and studied sculpture and installation art at San Francisco Art Institute, graduating in 1992. After graduating, he followed his college girlfriend back to her hometown Osaka, Japan. He set up a black and white darkroom in his tiny one-bedroom apartment (above a fish shop) and began printing photos of his first Japanese experiences.

After marrying (the college girlfriend) and starting a family in Osaka, he pursued a career as a fine artist having exhibitions in Osaka of his installation art. His art took a turn when he discovered the web and began creating interactive net art, often incorporating his photography. This soon turned into a digital design career and he moved back to San Francisco to work at an agent during the Dotcom. He continued his photography off and on over the next 20 years as a digital photographer using DSLR and mastering Photoshop and post-production he used in his design work.

Thirty-five years after his first experiments with a film camera as a teenager, in 2020 he made the decision to focus on film photography again. He has again fallen in love with the photographic process and enjoys shooting in a variety of locations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Kyoto. He chooses to photograph everyday life and sees himself as an art photographer not focused on a particular genre of photography, although he shoots street, people, nature, architecture, and landscape photos in his work.

Lance lives in San Francisco with his wife and dog. He has two kids in grad school and college, a son doing a master’s in conducting and a daughter beginning a BA in acting. He works as a design director at Adobe. He is also passionate about surfing, travel, and van camping.

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“I fell in love with the process of taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.”

Alec Soth