What You Don't Know About Beyoncé's 23-Year-Old Vogue Photographer

By now you’ve probably seen Beyoncé’s epic new Vogue September issue. While the interview offers plenty of enticing soundbites—”I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m grateful for every scar,” she told the magazine—there’s a second story that’s just as compelling as Beyoncé’s: that of 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell.

With his new Beyoncé spread, Mitchell has officially become the first African American photographer to shoot a Vogue cover. (All together now: What took so long?) He’s also one of the youngest: You have to go back to 1960s lensman David Bailey to find someone who was also 23 when he scored the gig.

To commemorate the occasion, Vogue interviewed Mitchell himself, who revealed that he started his career filming music videos for indie rappers while he was a freshman in film school. He also explained how his love of skateboarding first pushed him toward an interest in photography: “Of course there’s the surface-level cool and rebel spirit about skateboarding,” he told Vogue, “but the thing that makes skaters like artists runs deeper than that: It’s not a sport that’s built on competition, it’s one that thrives on community.”

As for his Beyoncé shoot, the native of Marietta, Georgia, revealed why he was pleasantly surprised by his easy rapport with the icon. “When she sat down for me there was immediately the kind of comfort level you’d have with a friend, which was quite unexpected,” Mitchell told Vogue. “You’d imagine someone as famous as Beyoncé to be protective of her image, but she was really an open book—and that’s exactly what you want as a photographer.” It’s safe to say you’ll be seeing a lot more of Mitchell in the near future, so scroll down to familiarize yourself with his work.

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