The internet has been buzzing as Beyonce‘s cover story with Vogue has finally been revealed.
But not only is having a black woman on the cover of one of the most prestigious fashion and style magazines a feat in itself, the fact that the cover was shot by a black photographer for the first time in 126 years is also iconic – even if sad.
But who is Tyler Mitchell? Here are a few things to know about him.
1. Photography is actually his second passion, Skateboarding was his first passion.
Aside from shooting Beyoncé’s cover, Mitchell sat down with Vogue for a separate interview to share how he got his start. In the piece, Mitchell described how he was first drawn to capturing visuals due to the “dreamy asthetic” of Spike Jonze’s early skate videos, which he saw online.
“I’m definitely a YouTube-generation kid,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to make movies and how to edit that way. I quickly formed my point of view.”
2. His big break was a self-published book of photos called ‘El Paquete’
According to the Times, Mitchell spent six weeks in Havana photographing their skateboard scene and crumbling architecture, and the book later garnered the attention of Dazed Digital and i-D magazine, and sold out at Dashwood Books.
3. This isn’t the first time he has worked with the Knowles family
A photo Mitchell shot was posted on Saint Records’ Instagram profile three months ago. Saint Records is Solange Knowles’s record label, and of course, Solange is Beyoncé’s sister. On his own page, Mitchell captioned the picture, “Solange thank you and your entire team for having me this day.”
4. He considers himself a photographer who wants to make a difference with his work
“For so long, black people have been considered things,” Mitchell told Vogue. “We’ve been thingified physically, sexually, emotionally. With my work I’m looking to revitalize and elevate the black body.”
According to the Times, he plans to launch another special project this year—an experimental three-screen film he shot using a 35 millimeter camera about “race and how that affects adolescents.”
5. He also directs music videos and short films
According to Vogue, Mitchell began making music videos for rappers like Kevin Abstract when he was still a freshman in film school. Ray-Ban Films hired him to direct a short film for the music group Brockhampton. He also shot a music video, above, for the group’s song, “Dirt,” and has filmed campaigns for American Eagle, Givenchy, and Marc Jacobs.
6. He is a fan of Beyoncé’s music
Mitchell told Vogue he and Beyoncé felt incredibly comfortable on set, which was refreshing because he had been a longtime fan of the singer.
“It’s funny because I’m pretty sure she headlined the first concert I ever went to, when I was maybe eight or nine, so you could say we met in a past life,” he told Vogue.
“I cried three times already this morning,” Mitchell tweeted the day the cover was released.