Who is Tyler Mitchell? Get to know the 23-year-old who shot Beyoncé’s Vogue cover
For the first time in Vogue‘s long, storied history, a cover was shot by a black photographer—because Beyoncé made it so. We previously reported that Beyoncé was given unprecedented control over her September 2018 Vogue cover, which included handpicking 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot the cover images and accompanying spread.
Mitchell is quickly becoming a “one to watch” rising artist, not just because he is young or good, but because, as he described it to The New York Times in 2017, “I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way. There is an honest gaze to my photos.”
For this reason, Beyoncé wanted him to photograph her.
"Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like. That is why I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell, Beyoncé wrote in the magazine.
The young photographer and filmmaker is from Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in September 2017. Though he’s only a year out of school, his resume includes work for Marc Jacobs, American Eagle, i-D, The Fader, and the Teen Vogue spread that featured the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (who survived a mass shooting in February 2018).
His website states that he got his start making skate videos, and that attention to youth culture led him to photograph other rising stars like Amandla Stenberg and Jaden Smith.
Despite his growing resume, Mitchell doesn’t think of himself as a “fashion photographer.”
"I don’t look at what I do as fashion photography all the time. It’s probably how I’ve been branded and named and I’m okay with that because it allows me to work with interesting people, publications, and clothes all of which ultimately push an idea through photography," he told Lomography in 2016. "But a lot of times fashion work uses photography to tell stories about clothing. I find that extremely boring and it’s a sad attempt to sell you on something rather than just be."
Now, thanks to Beyoncé’s influence, Mitchell is not only a fashion photographer but the first black fashion photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in 126 years.