Brooklyn-based Tyler Mitchell emerged into the limelight as the first black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover. He has since been diligently compiling images for his book I Can Make You Feel Good.
Released in July, Mitchell’s 206-page monograph constructs a vision of black utopia, where models are bathed in sunlight and move freely. His photographs are peaceful but playful, pastoral in their gentleness but inevitably political on the page.
2020 has borne witness to profound racial injustice but also to resistance and hope, a backdrop against which Mitchell’s work feels perfectly timed. In his photographs boys hula-hoop and picnic, sleep in the grass and fly kites; girls adorn their natural hair with flowers and skate with linked arms.
Mitchell’s colours are brilliant in the midsummer light, casting golden hues on brown skin and raising reds to our attention against luscious grass. His attention to textures, too, is skillful, as the sweaters of his subjects crease into folds of light and shadow. His attentive pairings of denim and plastic with cotton and foliage allude to his work as a fashion photographer, through which Mitchell explores the body and other, less tactile, themes.
Optimism and community are resplendent throughout I Can Make You Feel Good, which permits leisure and freedom to bodies that are too often denied both. Mitchell’s photographs are the balm that soothes. Through his debut monograph he does, indeed, make us feel good.