Tyler Mitchell Wants to Make You Feel Good

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It didn’t take long for the young photographer and filmmaker Tyler Mitchell to make a name for himself.

When he was a teenager growing up in Marietta, Ga., he earned a following by posting skate videos on Instagram and Tumblr. As a junior at New York University, he studied with Deborah Willis, the respected black contemporary photographer. And at 23, Mr. Mitchell became the first black photographer — and one of the youngest — to shoot the cover of Vogue magazine. His subject: Beyoncé.

Mr. Mitchell is best known for his fashion photography. He has worked with Marc Jacobs and Converse, and he has styled many of his subjects, several of whom are friends, in clothes purchased at Goodwill. But his work also deals with the more complicated reality of identity, particularly race and gender.

Mr. Mitchell’s first solo exhibition, “I Can Make You Feel Good,” on view at Foam in Amsterdam, includes images from his personal and commissioned work. The photographs tell stories of family life and togetherness, revealing an imagined utopia filled with young black figures in bright, beautiful colors.

“For me, it’s an affirmation of certain autobiographical aspects of my blackness, but if other people enjoy that, too, I think that’s great,” he said of his work. “I think, ultimately, I would simply like people to walk away understanding the power of images to rewrite history.”

Mr. Mitchell selected five pieces from the show that highlight his vision of optimism, playfulness and freedom. I talked to him about his selections below. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The colors and the timeless, regal attire in this image really stood out to me. This is something you would expect to see on a middle-aged woman, but here it’s on a young black man.

There’s so much power in this photo. There’s something about the men sharing the blazer and holding each other up, but also the different expressions on their faces.

I knew I wanted to make something that was about visualizing unity, but I also wanted a break in that at the same time. The two boys are both Senegalese. I was looking to create a unified image of them, styling them together with one blazer supporting each other.

The element of the jacket also ties into my fashion work. Their emotions and their expressions were also totally intentional in terms of making sure one had this look of disdain and the other had a more optimistic look of freedom. This shoot was great because it was the day after I did a very embarrassing commercial shoot, so I was like, “I need to just go make something right now that I really, really care about.”

Bella and Kelsey don’t have a relationship. It’s all staged. But I was really inspired by, again, ideas of comfort, togetherness, intimacy, protection, which has to do with the safety blanket. And that idea, again, of black family in daily life, but also protection and intimacy. Those things are all important to me.

And what was your vision for this last photo with this group of men?

My take on men can get specific. I’m usually always with groups, especially black men. I’m trying to unlock some sort of freedom with them in certain portrait sessions. In this picture, which was cast in England, the five men are gathered together and blended into the landscape and also create a landscape of their own. That speaks to freedom within the group. It was nice because they all formed a shape of unison.

Source link LifeStyle

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