Meet Tyler Mitchell, the 23-Year-Old Who Will Be the First Black Photographer to Shoot a ‘Vogue’ Cover—Thanks to Beyoncé
Recently there seems to be a new trend of black people making history in various industries. Despite the fact that racial segregation and profiling is on the rise, there is hope for a future that has possibilities, a future that has a fair playing field for all races. One of the most recent history makers is a 23-year-old artist from Atlanta, Tyler Mitchell, who is going to be the first black photographer to shoot a cover for Vogue in its 126-year history.
According to HuffPost, Mitchell landed the opportunity thanks to the influence of Beyonce. She chose him to photograph her upcoming issue cover after obtained full control over the cover from the Vogue Editor-in-chief. A source spoke to HuffPost and said, “The reason a 23-year-old black photographer is photographing Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue is that Beyoncé used her power and influence to get him that assignment.”
Beyoncé, a dedicated champion of black artists, reportedly agreed to grace the cover of Vogue if and only if she was given full creative control of her photo shoot, even to the point of writing the captions for the images herself. True to form, she has not agreed to be interviewed for the occasion.
He spoke with Complex about the challenges of shooting high-profile celebrities. “Hopefully, I just push forward in the direction of forging real relationships between innovative image-makers and influential figures to create collaborative content,” he said. “Being in the music world and shooting famous people is really some shit I just don’t want to do…I can’t comprehend the desire to shoot someone without a real-life connection.”
It seems likely Beyoncé is of a similar mindset. The singer has previously worked closely with photographer Awol Erizku, who shot the singer and her husband Jay-Z at the Louvre museum during a 2014 trip to Paris—a precursor to their new “Apeshit” music video—as well as for her 2017 pregnancy announcement.
The move represents a major departure from how things are usually done by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, a famously controlling figure who is said to run her magazine with an iron fist. Although Mitchell has shot for the likes of Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and American Eagle—even doubling as a model for the latter—and counts celebrities such as Rose McGowan and Naomi Campbell among his (now-rapidly increasing) tens of thousands of Instagram followers, he is a surprise pick for Vogue, which tends to rely on a small handful of pre-approved, highly established cover photographers.
Mitchell graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in September, and quickly became reputed and recognized in the art world through his work in Cuba and the work he has featured on Instagram. He has more than 40000 followers on Instagram, including some celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Rose McGowan.
In an interview with the New York Times last Year, Mitchell was featured in the “Up Next” series. They described his American Eagle film as, “Black Eagle An esoteric autobiographical short film he directed and starred in for American Eagle had its premiere in February. “I do look at myself as a black American and equally as a symbol at the center of this country,” he said. “I had never considered myself an American Eagle model, but what made it interesting was to twist the cultural conversation about what the brand stands for and turn it on its head.””
The young artist gained great attention back in 2015 with his self-published book of photos, El Paquete. For this book, he spent six weeks in Cuba to come up with the documentary photography program; where he perfectly captured Havana’s vibrant skateboard scene and architecture. His book of photos has 108 photos attracted notice of Dazed Digital and i-D magazine.
Despite this being a historic opportunity, the 23-year-old has had his work featured in other magazines. He did work for Teen Vogue’s March for Our Lives feature; where he photographed gun reform activist Nza-Ari Khepra, with Parkland shooting survivors Emma Gonzalez, Sarah Chadwick and Jaclyn Corin. The piece was for Teen Vogue’s #NeverAgain gun control movement. He has also shot covers for Fader and Office Magazine.
The young artist is going places because other than photography, he has directed film projects for Marc Jacobs and Ray-Ban. And in December as he spoke to NY-Times, he talked of an upcoming film on how race affects adolescents.
The feature reads, “He is currently editing an experimental three-screen film he shot using a 35 millimeter camera, about “race and how that affects adolescents” that he plans to screen in New York sometime next year. While he is tight-lipped about the film’s storyline, he said the project will be more personal than his online persona.”