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Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 14, 2018 in Indio, Calif.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Beyoncé Leads Vogue to Feature Its First-Ever Black Cover Photographer

Why Global Citizens Should Care
For decades, the fashion industry has notoriously lacked diversity. Thanks to champions like Beyoncé, that is now beginning to change. Seeing diversity represented in the media and the world around us is key to empowering young people and combating discrimination. You can join us by taking action here to reduce inequality and achieve the Global Goals.

For the fashion-conscious, being featured on the cover of Vogue magazine is a major honor. To be featured on the cover of its September issue — its most important and prestigious issue — is monumental.

So, of course, this year’s Vogue September issue will feature none other than the queen herself, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. And in true Beyoncé style, the powerhouse entertainer will make history with her cover, the first in Vogue’s 126-year history to be shot by a black photographer.

Queen Bey was given full control over the issue’s cover, the photos of her within the magazine, and their accompanying captions, two sources familiar with the agreement between Vogue and Beyoncé told HuffPost.

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Beyoncé reportedly used her creative power over the issue — unprecedented for someone not on Vogue’s staff — to have 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell be her photographer.

Mitchell is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, who, despite his young age, has already made a name for himself working with influential figures like designer Marc Jacobs and rapper Kevin Abstract of the group Brockhampton. 

The Atlanta-born photographer was featured last year in the New York Times’ “Up Next” series of up-and-coming artists. Of his work, which often focuses on people of color, he said: “I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way. There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

A source familiar with Vogue’s editorial process told HuffPost that the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, would not have chosen Mitchell for the cover shoot. Wintour reportedly prefers to use photographers with more experience in the fashion industry — an industry that has only recently begun to embrace diversity.

“The reason a 23-year-old black photographer is photographing Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue is because Beyoncé used her power and influence to get him that assignment,” the source said.

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This September’s issue is rumored to be Wintour’s last, though Vogue parent company Condé Nast has insisted the fashion icon will not be leaving the publication.

People on social media are praising Beyoncé using her cover shoot to help increase the industry’s diversity and create opportunities for people of color.

But many were also critical of the fact that it took more than a century for Vogue to feature the work of a black photographer on its cover. Others lamented that the first black cover photographer was hired at the request of a celebrity, rather than of the magazine’s own initiative.

Beyoncé has appeared on four Vogue covers and was featured on the 2015 September issue. But seeing on the cover of Vogue again, this time shot by a black photographer, is bound to inspire many.

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