Photographer behind iconic Beyoncé and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez covers shares his approach to capturing meaningful portraits
MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, today announced that photographer Tyler Mitchell—the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of American Vogue—will teach a class on storytelling through portrait photography. In his MasterClass, Mitchell will share an intimate look at his creative process, teaching members the basics of creating inspiring portraits using their unique personal perspectives and any camera available. Mitchell’s class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.
“As one of the best photographers in the world, Tyler is reshaping the lens through which we see culture today,” said David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass. “In his MasterClass, he not only shares his process but shows members that they are already equipped with everything they need to take meaningful pictures—an eye, a personal story and any camera.”
For members shooting with a film camera for the first time or the smartphone in their pocket, Mitchell’s MasterClass will offer a behind-the-scenes look at his artistic approach, sharing the basics of creating inspiring portraits that tell a story. Demonstrating how to shoot both indoors and outdoors, Mitchell will teach members the fundamentals of lighting and how to shape and control natural light to create strong frames. He will also take members into the studio to offer a firsthand look at his editing process and the steps he takes to achieve the best possible photos. Members will learn not only basic photography skills such as lighting and composition, but also will develop an eye for finding the right camera, art directing, discovering a creative community online and working with models to create inspired, professional-looking images. Mitchell will also share how he translates important themes into concrete images, while inviting members to find their own story and unique voice. Members will leave the class empowered to take better photos and create poignant portraits of their own.
“My work is inspired by wanting to make images that reflect my experiences,” Mitchell said. “As a young artist myself, it’s always been important to me to share and to make accessible the information I’ve learned on my journey. I hope that my MasterClass will help members take these lessons and apply them to their own lives and experiences behind the lens.”
As a photographer and filmmaker working across multiple genres to explore and document a new aesthetic of Blackness, Mitchell made history in 2018 as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover of Vogue for Beyoncé’s appearance in the September issue. One of Mitchell’s portraits from the series was acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection in 2019, cementing Mitchell as a rising talent to watch. In 2020, he was announced as the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship, which supports projects that reflect and draw inspiration from Parks’ central themes of representation and social justice. Mitchell’s work has been featured in renowned publications, including British Vogue, Teen Vogue, M Le Monde, i-D magazine and more, as well as in campaigns for Calvin Klein, Prada, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Nike. Mitchell’s second book, I Can Make You Feel Good, was released earlier this year and is a celebration of his distinctive vision of a Black utopia. The book is also an expansion of Mitchell’s body of photography and film from his first-ever solo exhibition of the same name, which was previously on view at the International Center of Photography in New York.