While many filmmakers and photographers credit Tumblr as their main source of inspiration, Tyler Mitchell is keen to root his craft in real-life experiences. “I haven’t given up on the reblog-ready stuff, it has its place, but I’m just trying to cut through to something real,” he says. “I’m tired of everyone existing on their internet platform… Very few are actually inspiring.”
Hailing from Atlanta, the NYU film student started taking pictures after a skater friend introduced him to a Canon 7D. Now, Kevin Abstract and fellow Dazed 100-er Jaden Smith have gazed into his lens. In fact, it’s Mitchell’s work with Abstract that has really cemented the filmmaker as one to watch. The artist filmed the pink-haired rapper looking pensive in an underground club for 2014’s “Hell/Heroina” and created a satirical music video, “Dirt”, for Brockhampton (led by Abstract), which sees the group fooling around on a hyper-stylised set.
After spending 2015 “figuring out exactly who and what I am”, Mitchell confidently names his first self-published photography book, El Paquete, as a career highlight. Heading out to Havana, Cuba, armed with 30 rolls of film, Mitchell was set on removing himself from the familiar. The result is a stunning publication capturing the energy and youth of a region on the brink of digital advancement. “These photos were created in a place where I couldn’t really be affected by anything other than Havana itself. I wasn’t too concerned with what was cool or trending in the outside world because I couldn’t see any of that.” Below, we look at some of our favourite pics from the publication, alongside a selection of his recent film work.
Text Monique Todd