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What We Learned This Week: Beyonce Chooses a Black Photographer for Vogue Cover

By David Schonauer   Monday August 6, 2018


Vogue magazine made cultural history this week.

With some help from Beyoncé Knowles.

According to reports, Beyoncé was given unprecedented creative control over the fashion bible’s September issue, in which she appears. HuffPost  reported that Beyoncé used her authority to select 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot the issue’s cover. Mitchell thus would become the first black photographer to shoot a cover image for the 126-year-old magazine.

Sources told HuffPost that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour “prefers to hire fashion photographers with more traditional experience and likely would not have selected Mitchell for a cover shoot.” But, according to reports, she was “contractually obligated” to give Beyoncé her pick of the photos and their captions. (In her previous Vogue cover appearance, shot by Mario Testino in 2015, Beyoncé notably declined to be interviewed, noted UPROXX.)

The news, and the appearance of the new issue, thrust Mitchell into the media spotlight, though he was far from unknown in the fashion world, noted Refinery29. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and television from New York University’s Tisch School of Arts and began getting attention after publishing a book of photographs, El Paquete, in 2015. He’s recently shot campaigns for Marc Jacobs and Givenchy.

“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” Mitchell told The New York Times in December.

At The Guardian  newspaper, 19-year-old photographer David Uzochukwu commented on why it took Beyoncé to select a black photographer to shoot Vogue’s cover. “She’s the one who pulled him in, one of the most famous women in the world. And that’s telling,” wrote Uzochukwu.

“There is and has been a trend for diversity in fashion. But it is a trend,”  Uzochukwu added. “When you have a black and brown model in front of the camera, almost all of the time, there is a white person behind the lens. That we have got used to it is even sadder.”

Meanwhile, rumors spread about the future of Vogue itself, and its famous editor. The New York Times  noted recently that Condé Nast, the company behind Vogue, lost more than $120 million last year and plans to put three of its 14 magazines — Brides, Golf Digest and W — up for sale. According to reports, Vogue and Condé Nast’s two other marquis titles, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, will not be sold.

But WWD noted that Wintour’s run at Vogue may be coming to an end. “Numerous industry sources have insisted in recent weeks that Wintour is indeed set to leave her 30-year post as editor in chief of American Vogue, with the reveal of a soft exit thought to be coming after the all-important September issue is released,” reported WWD.

Here are some of the other photo stories we covered this week:
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1. Julia Fullerton-Batten Tells the Stories of the River Thames


"The River Thames is not even the longest river in the British Isles and a mere pygmy in comparison with many other rivers in the world, yet its significance to British and world history is immense," writes fine-art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten or her latest project —  a sprawling exploration of Thames history told through illustrative images and texts, which we featured  on Monday. Among Fullerton-Batten’s tales: the story a famous painting painstakingly recreated.


2. Wrestling in Senegal, as Poetry


Nico Therin
, a French photographer based in Los Angeles, first became interested in Senegalese wrestling for purely aesthetic reasons. But after delving into the subject and doing more research about the sport, he was drawn in by its mystical aspect as well. Therin told The Washington Post  that the most positive moments he experienced while photographing the wrestlers came when he realized “how intimate and graceful the peak of the combat actually is. It’s what shaped the way I captured the wrestlers.”


3. Impressionistic Greenhouses


When Swiss photographer Samuel Zeller began photographing greenhouses in 2015, he was inspired by his love of Impressionist art: Zeller hoped to re-create the painterly aesthetic by photographing botanical specimens gently pressed against rippled glass, thereby capturing what he calls the “refracted reality.” The result, noted Colossal, is the new book Botanical. "Even through the undulating veil of the glass, he is able to capture the beauty and uniqueness of his subjects," added Feature Shoot.


4. Up Close With California's Wildfires


Dry conditions, high temperatures, and strong winds have spawned devastating wildfires across the state of California, including the Carr fire near the city of Redding, which is so powerful that it has created its own weather patterns. The Atlantic’s In Focus blog  rounded up a portfolio of images from news service photographers documenting the fires. They include a widely-published image from photographer Josh Edelson (AFP/Getty Images) showing an enormous pyrocumulus cloud formed by the Carr fire (above).


5. Portrait of the Escaramuza Cowgirl


Eight years ago, Dane Strom quit his job as an editor with the Denver Post and headed south with a guitar, settling in a town in the subtropical mountains of Mexico’s Jalisco state. "All of my photography is now dedicated to Mexico’s culture, traditions, and annual fiestas," he says. One event he photographs often is the charreria, the Mexican competitive sport of horsemanship, including the women's escaramuza competition. His portrait of an escaramuza rider was named a winner of Latin American Fotografia 6. We spotlighted  Strom on Wednesday.
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At top: From Nico Therin

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