The fascination with Vogue covers has spread widely in the younger generation with the popularity of a widespread app called TikTok, where youth have been posting photos of themselves with the classic “VOGUE” lettering printed overtop. Some were joking, but many were posing like models as a way to critique Vogue magazine’s historically limited representation of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ photographers and models.
Every year, Vogue publishes a total of twelve magazines ranging in different themes, colors, and graphics. We see the finished product but don’t see what goes into polishing the highly successful magazine. It all starts with an idea, coming from what’s “in” that year or some other form of inspiration. Often that inspiration comes from smaller designers or up-and-coming people in the fashion industry. It then gets brought to life through the makeup artists, stylists, and photographers, which we don’t get to see as often, if ever.
The fashion industry is not exactly known for being all-inclusive. It excludes artists based on body type, social status, wealth, and race, so getting your feet into the industry can seem almost impossible. Without the correct resources, it can be even more difficult for your talents to break through into the circle of fashion. You can imagine what an impact that has on youth being raised in these times, because falling anywhere outside of what is shown as one form of beauty is being viewed as subjectively unattractive. We need big figures to bring in more forms of representation, in hopes that people will not feel as left out from the beauty standards. Recently, British Vogue came out with their December issue starring Beyoncé, a multi-millionaire musician who’s not only known for her music, but for the way she uplifts women. It has not been her first time on Vogue’s covers, a previous appearance being the American Vogue September issue showcasing the musician in a stunning flower headdress. When Vogue comes out with an issue, they will usually choose who the photographer shooting the image will be, but unlike most, Beyoncé chooses her own photographers. For both covers, she has had young Black photographers doing the shoots and this has increased their popularity and opportunities greatly.
In 2018 it was Tyler Mitchell who shot Beyoncé, an Atlanta-born 25-year-old filmmaker and photographer who first found his passion for photography on his skateboard. At the time he shot the famous image, he was just 23 years of age. In addition to being among the youngest photographers to ever shoot Vogue’s front cover, he was also the first Black photographer to ever shoot the front cover of American Vogue. His ultimate goal as a photographer and filmmaker is to shoot Black bodies, and not objects, which is often the perception that people have of photographs of Black people.
A greatly talented 21-year-old, Kennedi Carter, was the infamous photographer that shot Beyoncé’s December issue for British Vogue. She is the youngest photographer ever in British Vogue history to shoot a cover, and not just any Vogue cover, but a cover starring her idol Beyoncé. Carter has been building up her image from a young age, with some of her work being featured in the New York Times for Black photographers, and a GQ portrait shot of Bubba Wallace, a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) driver. She has even won an award for the Best Single Image in Pride Photo 2020. Yet, her Vogue cover of Beyoncé is what’s really brought the most attention to her talent. Beyoncé had made a request for a Black woman photographer to shoot her cover, and Vogue had chosen Carter to fill that role — and rightfully so, because the image came out stunning and is definitely one of my favorite British Vogue covers. Hopefully, other celebrities will follow Beyoncé’s suit, or icons will start to entwine upcoming artists so that the industry can evolve and diversify, such that more talent can be seen.