Tyler Mitchell is a young photographer who is on the fast track to being legendary. At the age of 24, Tyler has already made a name for himself, handpicked by Beyonce as the first black photographer EVER to shoot for the cover of Vogue. In his book, I Can Make You Feel Good, he compiles his works in a centralized theme. The images are as ethereal as they are direct, as each model is draped in bright colors and backdrops and they are continually depicting a long day of play. However, in looking at these sweeping images, melanin models pose elegantly and inordinately, the colors are a vivid example of what it is to be free and alive. Yet, something feels slightly off. No one is smiling. Each image conveys a complete seriousness that feels off-putting and somber. It’s with this juxtaposition that begs the question. Why? Why is it that no one is really enjoying the sublime atmosphere they are put in?
Tyler expounds on why this is a theme, as black people don’t really get the luxury to be “happy and free.” Playtime can often have disastrous effects. Just ask Treyvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Antwon Rose, and thousands of children who’s lives have been forever denied the chance to relax on a playground again.
Mirjam Kooiman narrates Tyler’s ultimate intention behind his photography. “Woven into Mitchell’s work is a quiet but direct reference to the 2014 killing of Tamir Rice…a running thread through this display of works is the psyche of Black youth, that they should be careful about being too off guard in public for fear of persecution and even violence.”
“I often think about what White fun looks like and this notion that Black people can’t have the same. Growing up with Tumblr I would often come across images of sensual, young, attractive White models running around being free and having so much fun…I seldom saw the same for Black people in images or at least in the photography I knew. My work comes from a place of wanting to push back against this lack. I feel an urgency to create a body of images where Black people are visualized as free, expressive, effortless, and sensitive.”
Gordan Parks comes to mind in observing Tyler Mitchell’s work, as he captures a lush dreamlike atmosphere for black people against the backdrop of a quiet reality that it’s impossible to be free, unbothered by seething “Karens,” racist police, and anyone that seeks to bring violence to melanin folks at peace. All of the images are methodical and just simply beautiful! Take a look below!
Owning this book is an experience in itself, as the book is embossed in canvas binding, complete with a silk apricot bookmark and each photo is saturated in vibrant construction paper.
Stop by Photodom and pick up your copy today!