[Tyler Mitchell](https://www.masterclass.com/classes/tyler-mitchell-teaches-storytelling-through-portrait-photography) is a Brooklyn-based photographer and filmmaker whose work focuses on the concept of luxury, the power of youth, and the Black experience in America. \n\n- __Early life__: Tyler Mitchell grew up in Marietta near Atlanta, Georgia, and picked up his first camera when he was 14 years old. As a teen, he made skate videos and music videos for rapper Kevin Abstract, which allowed him to develop his filmmaking skills. At age 20, Tyler published his first book *El Paquete* after visiting Havana, Cuba to document skateboarding culture and architecture there.\n- __Move to New York__: Tyler eventually moved to New York, where he studied cinematography at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and set his sights on a filmmaking career. Tyler eventually took a class taught by Deborah Willis, the legendary curator, author, and chair of Tisch’s Department of Photography and Imaging. The course granted him full access to the photo lab and deepened his commitment to photography.\n- __Big break in Vogue__: In 2018, Mitchell got the opportunity to photograph Beyoncé for Vogue’s September issue. Mitchell became the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of American *Vogue*, and one of the youngest to do so as well. In April 2019, his first solo exhibition, *I Can Make You Feel Good*, opened at Amsterdam’s Foam Museum (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam), then traveled to the International Center of Photography in New York. He also published his first monograph with the same title, *Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good* (2020). It features hundreds of images encapsulating Tyler’s vision of Black utopia, which often straddles the line between reality and wishful thinking. Visually arresting and artfully composed, the imagery asks us to reconsider our notions of luxury and humanity. \n- __Current career__: Today, Tyler’s expansive portfolio includes blue-chip and high fashion brands (Marc Jacobs, JW Anderson), international print publications (*Vanity Fair*, *The Guardian*, *GQ*), and subjects spanning the breadth of culture (Spike Lee, Zendaya, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lil Uzi Vert). Tyler has also lectured at Harvard University and landed on Forbes’s “30 Under 30” list. He’s been profiled in *The New York Times*, and recognized with a fellowship at the Gordon Parks Foundation.\nTyler is known for his work that focuses on the Black experience in America. His portraiture is recognizable for its stripped-down, authentic staging of his subjects whom he often shoots against vibrant yet simple backgrounds. Here are a few additional signature motifs of Tyler Mitchell’s photography style. \n\n1. __Natural light__: Tyler often shoots in [natural light](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/tyler-mitchells-natural-light-photography-tips). He uses sunlight as a way to illuminate his subjects, drawing your eye to them, and using various elements such as shading by objects, diffusion by clouds, and changing colors to evoke different moods at midday, sunrise, and sunset. \n2. __Color__: When Tyler was hired to shoot a portrait series of gun reform activists for *Teen Vogue*, he chose an orange background. This color is associated with protection and caution, particularly in the context of bullets (think: hunting vests, doctors in a warzone), and therefore served as an implicit symbol. Color is something that can be understood by viewers without having to be stated outright. \n3. __Props__: Props are a vehicle for storytelling. In Tyler’s pictures, they serve as symbols that can accentuate, articulate, or juxtapose a larger narrative. Props can be clothes, too. In Tyler’s “I’m Doing Pretty Hood in My Pink Polo” series, which was shot for *Dazed* and appeared in 2016, the wardrobe lends his subjects a gentleness, then enhances the plastic resin chains and toy water pistols they hold. \n4. __Intimacy__: Depicting a closeness with his subject is essential to Tyler’s work, and he prefers photographing people he knows. Tyler incorporates a judgment-free, personal connection to develop a narrative, portraying an intimate view of the subject either through backstory, lighting, color, props, location, or all of the above. \n5. __Location__: When Tyler shows young Black people enjoying an open field or public park, he’s able to present a layered context; the simplicity and ubiquity of the location work in his favor. The way your subject explores or exists within those surroundings can exhume fresh meaning, and Tyler works to seek out the draw of a particular location and how his subjects exist within it. \n6. __Composition__: Part of what makes Tyler’s work so successful is his ability to capture many ideas in a single image but keep them composed in a harmonious way. His photos have a lot to say, but they’re never overcrowded.\nThough a young photographer, Tyler has already accumulated a number of iconic photographs through his professional photoshoots, shooting for publications like *Vogue*, *Teen Vogue*, *i-D Magazine*, and *Dazed*. Here is an overview of some of Tyler’s high-profile magazine covers.\n\n1. __*Office Magazine* Fall/Winter 2017, the Spike Lee cover__: Tyler’s cover shot of [Spike Lee](https://www.masterclass.com/classes/spike-lee-teaches-filmmaking) for *Office Magazine* shows a simple close-up of the Black auteur’s ultra-recognizable face.\n2. __*Vogue* September 2018, the Beyoncé cover__: Tyler photographed Beyoncé for the September issue of *Vogue*, making him the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for the magazine in its more than 125-year history. In 2019, one of the series’ portraits is acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection. \n3. __*Vogue* June 2019, the Zendaya cover__: Tyler shot his second *Vogue* cover portrait shoot featuring actress Zendaya against a series of simple backgrounds, from a coral pink wall, to a metallic silver backdrop. \n4. __*Vogue* December 2020, the Harry Styles cover__: Tyler shot his third *Vogue* cover, a portrait of singer Harry Styles wearing a Gucci gown—the first time a man has appeared solo on the cover. \n5. __*Vanity Fair* October 2020, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cover__: Tyler shot the young congresswoman for the cover of *Vanity Fair* in a simple white suit against a graphic background of roses. \n6. __*Vogue* January 2021, the Kamala Harris Cover__: Tyler shot Vice President Kamala Harris in a simple, powerful cover shot against a simple, golden curtain background.\nBecome a better photographer with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Tyler Mitchell, Jimmy Chin, Annie Leibovitz, and more.\nFilmmaker and photographer Tyler Mitchell is a young artist known for his work that highlights the Black experience in the US.