Photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell is using his lens as a way to explore what he describes as a new aesthetic of blackness. At accessFASHION, we believe in the importance of creativity as a form of communication. And the saying is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words…” and Tyler’s work is absolute proof of this. Sacha Williams tells us why she finds Mitchell’s work so inspiring…
Can you give us an insight into Tyler’s photography journey?
Growing up in Georgia, Tyler began his photography journey as a teenager, teaching himself how to produce films, with skateboarding culture as his inspiration. In 2015, whilst studying at Tisch School of the Arts in New York, Tyler visited Cuba, which resulted in his first book ‘El Paquete’ being published. He went on to work with brands like Marc Jacobs, Nike, and JW Anderson, and publications such as i-D and AnOther, not only as a Photographer, but also taking on Styling and Art Direction rolls. In 2018 and at the age of 23, Tyler made history by being the first ever black photographer to shoot an American Vogue Cover. Dressed in Valentino and Philip Treacy, his cover girl and muse was Beyoncé.
How would you describe Tyler’s photographic style?
Tyler, unlike many, does not simply focus on producing attractive visuals, but on compelling storytelling. With a limitation on the exposure of black imagery within the arts and fashion world – Mitchell captures experiences of black men and women enjoying everyday life, often with black bodies romantically interlaced. His work is so important due to the narrative having been ignored.
In order to fight inequalities, we have to begin with the normalisation of seeing all individuals living their lives. The images that we see in the media are not a true representation of our society, and Tyler’s work is creatively highlighting a way in which black people, in particular young individuals are able to see a reflection of themselves.
The colour choices he makes are stimulating, and when combined with his often-candid style camera angles, I’m left with a feeling of nostalgia and a vibe of 90s photo film. His aesthetic offers a playful and youthful feeling that holds the concept of community at its centre. Mitchell’s work is also appealing because of the way he portrays ‘normality’. His images and the mood he captures become relatable and thus it’s easy to connect with his message and the beauty of of everyday life.
How has he inspired you as a photographer?
Whilst Tyler’s imagery has visually inspired me to be much more experimental in the overall creation of the image, it is the narrative behind his photos that have had a longer lasting effect on me. I have a love for his art that is both inspiring as well as just beautiful to see.
In an interview with Dazed, Tyler said something that really resonated with me: “We don’t need to go into life’s situations with swords and shields. I’m hoping that we can all open up and be a little bit more vulnerable and transparent.” Tyler’s approach to image making, and life as a whole should be followed.
He has encouraged me, as someone working within the fashion industry, to focus more on the impact that harnessing imagination and photographic capabilities can achieve. Whilst I was always taught that photos hold a strong power in comparison to words, Tyler’s photography really helps in understanding why it is that the camera should be used as a tool for describing something that perhaps can be much more impactful than if words were to be used.
You can view Tyler Mitchell’s work via his website.
Read more of our #TalentedAF picks here.