Arts & Entertainment, Design & Style

Telling Stories With Photography

Tyler Mitchell

Lesson time 07:00 min

Learn how to use photography to tell personal and emotional stories through Tyler’s examples and instructions.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Telling Stories With Photography


[MUSIC PLAYING] - To tell your own stories, it's important to think about your experiences in your life. And I think if you're telling stories about humans, you've probably had some experiences or you have some stories already that you've experienced that are worth telling. So I think it's about reflecting about your own personal kind of life. Being that I'm a filmmaker first, I definitely work and approach images like mini narratives. And they usually come from thinking about either my individual experience as a Black person and my just individual experiences as a person, or kind of corners of the collective Black experience in general. So thinking about family, thinking about motherhood, thing about sisterhood, thinking about personhood. So for me, it's about thinking about personal experience and collective experience and telling stories. When I think about my work I've made up to this point, I think about the idea that I mainly wanted to see protagonists of my pictures both look like me and be experiencing a certain freedom in public space that I wish for young Black men and women around me. So when I make images of, you know, friends hula hooping or doing enjoying seemingly mundane pleasures, it's about thinking about freedom that I wish for them and for myself. "I Can Make You Feel Good," my book, that is a body of work that I've been making over the past four years. Around 2015, 2016 I started to think about Black identity, Black male identity, and a lot of my own autobiographical experiences in the South in Georgia and what those things were made up of. So all of that work is either commissioned or personal. And it flows freely between both commission and personal works. And the unifying element of all those works in that book is their kind of aesthetic vision of Black life as something that's intimate, as something that is effortless, that is free, as enjoying public space, thinking about them having picnics, embracing one another, reclining, relaxing, both at play and motion or just laying in the grass. And I was thinking about them as a unifying visual text of hope, I suppose, for Black life. "All-American Family Portrait" is one of my favorites in the book for the reason of the story of making it, which was the mother in that image, her name is Tyra Mitchell. And funny enough, we met just through both being artists in New York and people confusing us. But she had two twin baby girls. And that portrait is of her and her family, of her girls and her boyfriend, Naeem. And to me, there's firstly a contextual element of always having a relationship to the people in these images. And really finding it important to be close to the people in my images. But also, we made that image. That was one of the first images I took of her and her family. I had photographed her pregnant, six months pregnant, but this, we made a year later when she had her babies and they were six months old. So yeah, that image is abo...

About the Instructor

A revolutionary talent, Tyler Mitchell made history as the first Black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover, work that is part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. Now he’s sharing his process with you. Discover how to create and compose striking portraits, work with natural light and shadow, and tell a compelling story through your photos—even if the only equipment you have is your phone.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Tyler Mitchell

History-making photographer Tyler Mitchell teaches you his artistic process for creating compelling images with any kind of camera.

Explore the Class
Sign Up