Tyler Mitchell’s Debut Photography Book Showcases Black Joy

In June of last year, photographer Tyler Mitchell premiered his latest work for an exhibition at the Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (FOAM) in the Netherlands. For the show, Mitchell — who made history in August of 2018 when he was chosen by Beyoncé to become the first-ever Black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue — showcased a handful of images taken between 2016 and 2019, each portraying Black youth in the summertime. Mitchell’s show then traveled to New York City, where he put on his first-ever solo exhibition in the U.S. And now, the full breadth of his portfolio is about to become available no matter where you are.  

Today, Mitchell announced the release of I Can Make You Feel Good, the 25-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer’s first book. And while each of the photographs on its pages was taken prior to 2020, what they represent has never felt more important to showcase: Black joy. “I would very often come across sensual, young, attractive white models running around being free and having so much fun — the kind of stuff Larry Clark and Ryan McGinley would make,” Mitchell told FOAM at the time of his exhibition. “I very seldom saw the same for Black people in images — or at least in the photography I knew of then.”

In the book, you can expect to find stunningly lit photographs of young Black people, some fashion models and some not. “I make very little distinction between my commissioned and my personal works, using them both as an opportunity to create this utopian universe,” Mitchell is quoted saying in The Guardian. Most of the images are taken outside. One photo shows two men lounging on a billiards table surrounded by gummy bears, while another series of images shows a group enjoying a picnic. Friends are seen Double Dutching, playing on a swing set, and hula-hooping. In a submission titled “Untitled (Heart),” a woman, wearing an electric blue low-back one-piece, is shot at the beach. 

Of the 206-page book, which you can pre-order now before its official release on August 25, Mitchell calls it a “declaration,” one that is “gut punching in its optimism,” according to The Guardian. “It feels important at a time like this to declare such a thing.”

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