Beyoncé Leads Vogue to Feature Its First-Ever Black Cover Photographer
The magazine has been in publication for 126 years.
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.
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.
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.
OF COURSE Beyoncé hires a black photographer for her Vogue cover and it just happens to be the first in the issue’s history. That’s Beyoncé. THAT IS BEYONCÉ.— Global Citizen Blaine 🇿🇦 (@Queenbeyallday) July 31, 2018
I’m 23.— Mel Smith (@iamMelsmith) July 30, 2018
So is Tyler Mitchell.
Tyler Mitchell was hired by Beyoncé to be the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue issue.
I can’t help but be inspired.
I will never be ashamed of loving this woman. Who else TAKES VOGUE AWAY FROM ANNA WINTOUR only to deliberately highlight how shes denied black artists opportunities AND kickstart overdue progress by hiring their first ever black photographer. This ladys something ELSEEE I tell u pic.twitter.com/s0TBtcjTJ9— greeney (@James_Greeney) July 30, 2018
Beyoncé hiring a 23 year old black photographer for her Vogue cover, making him the first black photographer to shoot for vogue in 126 years!!! Is what we should ALL strive to do when given the opportunity to put someone else on and change the status quo!— Neku Atawodi-Edun (@NekuAE) July 31, 2018
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.
Please spend some time thinking about the fact that we are gonna see the first Vogue cover shot by a black photographer in the history of the magazine. Just spend some time with that.— Rebecca Shuri She Ready Carroll (@rebel19) July 31, 2018
It’s amazing, and embarrassing for them, that Vogue has never before had a Black photographer work on their cover. And Beyonce changed that, not Vogue.— Touré (@Toure) July 30, 2018
Wait.— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) July 30, 2018
It’s taken Vogue 126 years to have a black photographer shoot its cover?!
excuse me i am still trying to understand how vogue has been around for one hundred and twenty six years and has never had a black photographer work on a cover. pic.twitter.com/JsXalbQwfM— I'M MALCOLM X. (@itssnaz_) July 31, 2018
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.
The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.