Tyler Mitchell probably didn’t know he’d be making history when he set out to be a photographer. The 23-year-old actually just wanted to make skate videos, as he tells Vogue in their profile of him. However, he has made history as one of the youngest photographers ever to shoot a cover for the storied fashion tome in its 126 year history — and as the first Black man to do so as well. It just so happened his cover subject was a fellow record breaker renowned the world over: Beyonce.
When the news broke that Mitchell would be shooting the singer for the September issue (which is out now), it was assumed and reported by some that Beyonce had flexed a little contractual muscle to accomplish that feat, bucking a well-established trend of the magazine’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, maintaining strict control over the magazine’s most important annual issue. However, it’s since been clarified that the decision came from Condé Nast Corporate Creative Director Raul Martinez and Wintour herself. Mitchell himself confirmed the correction on his Twitter, linking to a Business Of Fashion article that addressed the initial rumor.
Meanwhile, Vogue returned plenty of respect back to the shooter, publishing a profile that highlighted his rise to stardom and the intelligent, insightful worldview he captures with his lens. He also described the experience of shooting one of the most iconic artists in the world for the landmark cover, saying, “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.” The profile paints a portrait of an artist who recognizes the social impact of his work and refuses to take his voice for granted.
The Vogue September issue cover story is available now.