Black History Month: First Black Photographer to Shoot a Cover for Vogue

Darvin Nelson, General Assignment Reporter

In 2018, Vogue released their famous September fashion issue featuring  famous R&B singer, Beyonce Knowles, photographed by 23 year-old Tyler Mitchell; making him the the first black photographer to ever shoot a vogue cover. A portrait from the series was kept by the National Smithsonian Portrait Gallery for the permanent collection.

Photo of Beyonce for Vogue
Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

The photo-shoot took place on the outskirts of London with beautiful natural lighting. “When she sat down for me there was immediately the kind of comfort level you’d have with a friend, which was quite unexpected,” he says. “You’d imagine someone as famous as Beyoncé to be protective of her image, but she was really an open book—and that’s exactly what you want as a photographer,” Mitchell said to Vogue.

Mainly curating his portfolio in Instagram, Tyler Mitchell has had his work published by not only Vogue; but I-D Magazine, British Vogue, Teen Vogue, Dazed Magazine, Document Journal, The Guardian, The FADER and many more publications. 

Photo taken by Tyler Mitchell for I-D Magazine
Tyler Mitchell/ I-D Magazine

Mitchell has also had many popular clients like Calvin Klein,  J.W. Anderson, Marc Jacobs, and Comme des Garcons.

Photo taken by Tyler Mitchell for JW Anderson
Tyler Mitchell/ JW Anderson

Raised in Atlanta, Mitchell got his start shooting music videos for rapper Kevin Abstract from Brockhamptom as a freshman at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mitchell focused on video, but shifted to photography after traveling to Havana, Cuba and “documenting the architecture and the city’s emerging skate scene” he said to NPR News. 

Photograph taken by Tyler Mitchell
Tyler Mitchell

“There’s a lot of, in my work, the black body searching for an idyllic space. And I think the use of vibrant color, the use of natural light, the way that that kind of colors and taints black and brown skin to me feels a lot of how I feel,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell’s approach to photography and creative portraiture results in vibrant colors and amazing cocoa-skin tones. His inspiring work and achievements has gotten praise from many people on different social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter.

Vogue magazine has been active for 125 years, and to be the first African-American to shoot a cover for Vogue is a big deal. Tyler Mitchell’s website states that he is “working across many genres to explore and document a new aesthetic of blackness”.


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