Beyoncé’s incredibly candid interview with Vogue was just released, and the only other person creating as much buzz as Queen Bey is Tyler Mitchell. The 23-year-old photographed the superstar for the September issue, making him the first black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue, and also one of the youngest photographers ever to land the cover.
How did someone so young catch the eye of an icon, and let alone land the gig to shoot her cover? Here’s everything you need to know about the rising star that Beyoncé herself calls ‘brilliant’.
1 Skateboarding was his first passion, but it led him to photography.
Aside from shooting Beyoncé’s cover, Mitchell sat down with Vogue for a separate interview to share how he got his start. In the piece, Mitchell described how he was first drawn to capturing visuals due to the ‘dreamy aesthetic’ of Spike Jonze’s early skate videos, which he saw online.
‘I’m definitely a YouTube-generation kid,’ Mitchell said. ‘I learnt how to make movies and how to edit that way. I quickly formed my point of view.’
2 Mitchell attended NYU and now lives in Brooklyn.
According to a 2017 New York Times profile, Mitchell’s hometown is Atlanta, but he attended Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. After graduating last September, he moved to Brooklyn where he resides in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood.
‘My life is a mess right now – a really good mess,’ he told the newspaper at the time.
3 His big break was a self-published book of photos called El Paquete.
According to the Times, Mitchell spent six weeks in Havana photographing their skateboard scene and crumbling architecture, and the book later garnered the attention of Dazed Digital and i-D, and sold out at Dashwood Books.
4 He has worked with the Knowles family before.
A photo Mitchell shot was posted on Saint Records’ Instagram profile three months ago. Saint Records is Solange Knowles’s record label and, of course, Solange is Beyoncé’s sister. On his own page, Mitchell captioned the picture, ‘Solange, thank you and your entire team for having me this day.’
5 He considers himself a ‘concerned’ photographer, who wants to make a difference with his work.
‘For so long, black people have been considered things,’ Mitchell told Vogue. ‘We’ve been “thingified” physically, sexually, emotionally. With my work I’m looking to revitalise and elevate the black body.’
According to the Times, he plans to launch another special project this year – an experimental three-screen film he shot using a 35mm camera about ‘race and how that affects adolescents’.
6 He also directs music videos and short films.
According to Vogue, Mitchell began making music videos for rappers like Kevin Abstract when he was still a freshman in film school. Ray-Ban Films hired him to direct a short film for the music group Brockhampton. He also shot a music video, above, for the group’s song Dirt, and has filmed campaigns for American Eagle, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs.
7 Beyoncé made history by hand-picking him.
Beyoncé spoke in her interview about wanting to break down barriers for people of different backgrounds in the fashion industry and beyond. That perspective led her to wanting to work with ‘this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell’ for the cover and spread. According to Business Of Fashion, Vogue presented Beyoncé with a list of photographers, and she chose Mitchell.
‘It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists,’ Beyoncé said. ‘There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.’
8 He is a fan of Beyoncé’s music, of course.
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@Beyonce, in her own words, gets real and raw about body acceptance, opening doors for the next generation of artists, her own family ancestry, and more in our September issue cover story. Tap the link in our bio to read the full piece. Photographed by @tylersphotos, fashion editor @tonnegood, Vogue, September 2018.
Mitchell told Vogue he and Beyoncé felt incredibly comfortable on set, which was refreshing because he had been a longtime fan of the singer. (After all, who isn’t?)
‘It’s funny because I’m pretty sure she headlined the first concert I ever went to, when I was maybe eight or nine, so you could say we met in a past life,’ he told Vogue.
‘I cried three times already this morning,’ Mitchell tweeted the day the cover was released.
This post originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com
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