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Tyler Mitchell MasterClass Review: Storytelling Through Portrait Photography

Are you thinking about taking Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass and improving your photography skills? Check out our honest review first and make sure it’s worth your time and money.

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Tyler Mitchell Teaches Storytelling Through Portrait Photography: Our Verdict (2024)


4.5 / 5

Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass covers the fundamentals of portrait photography and reveals what’s behind the famous American photographer’s rich visual storytelling. The course includes one-on-one lessons, examples, and demos, with a focus on simple tools and techniques that can help you craft a compelling visual story.


  • Approachable content
  • Inspiring lessons
  • Top-notch production quality
  • Useful class guide /li>


  • A bit too short

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I’ve never taken a photography-related MasterClass before, so I was very excited to take Tyler Mitchell’s course.

Plus, he is the youngest MasterClass instructor I had a chance to learn from, so I was curious how it would all turn out.

The only thing I knew about Tyler before taking his class was that he has the ability to create unique, lively, and aesthetically impressive photographs. And when I read the title of his MasterClass – Storytelling Through Portrait Photography – I was hooked.

So, did Tyler manage to convey his knowledge in an engaging, effective way, and how much did I learn from him?

Is his course geared toward ambitious photographers or amateur novices like me?

I’ll tell you everything you need to know in my detailed, honest review.

Table of Contents

What is the Tyler Mitchell MasterClass?

Tyler Mitchell Teaches Storytelling Through Portrait Photography” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a popular online learning platform known for its team of renowned instructors.

Tyler Mitchell is a famous American photographer best known for his fashion photography, portraits, and photography that shows the experiences of Black people. 

In his MasterClass, young Tyler Mitchell breaks down his artistic process and shows the basics of what he does as a photographer. He talks about light, composition, props, and other elements that help him tell a story through photographs.

The course contains 11 video lessons with a duration of 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

Tyler Mitchell speaking in his MasterClass

Who is Tyler Mitchell?

Tyler Mitchell is one of America’s most famous and respected young photographers. He is the youngest photographer and the first Black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue.

Apart from his photo of Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue, Mitchell is known for his collaborations with major companies like Marc Jacobs, Converse, Nike, and Givenchy. He has also been involved in several film projects.

Mitchell’s photography skills, talent, and eye for detail are recognizable and appreciated in the creative circles. He is especially praised for the way he documents the life of Black people, showing a rather optimistic vision of young Black people around him.

Who is Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass for?

In essence, Tyler’s photography course is suitable for anyone interested in photography.

Tyler’s expression is not limited only to fashion – he explores identity, the meaning of everyday life moments, freedom, dreams… He is able to capture many ideas and stories in a single image.

Also, his course contains photography tips and tricks that can be helpful to any beginner photographer, regardless of the type of equipment they use or the style they prefer.

However, if you’re looking for a detailed photography course that covers all the technicalities, terminology, and standard guidelines and rules, you should probably look elsewhere.

Tyler’s course provides a good foundation to build on, but more than anything else, it serves as an inspiration to find your own stories to tell.

So, all things considered, this MasterClass is ideal for:

  • Beginner photographers
  • Photographers interested in portraits and fashion photography
  • Admirers of Tyler’s work

What does Tyler Mitchell's MasterClass cover?

Tyler’s class is rather short and concise, and that’s why there’s no space for detailed guidelines and case studies.

However, the course does cover all the basics, from finding and expressing an idea to editing.

In any case, Tyler is confident and eloquent; he knows exactly what kind of message he wants to convey with his pictures, and that’s why it was a joy to listen to him speak about his artistic expression and art in general.

Content-wise, here is a quick overview of what you can expect from each lesson:

  • Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Tyler introduces himself and the course.
  • Lesson 2 is focused on telling personal and emotional stories through images.
  • Lesson 3 revolves around the fundamentals of photography: lighting and composition.
  • Lesson 4 is a demo lesson where Tyler takes you through an indoor photoshoot.
  • Lesson 5 is a demo lesson based on an outdoor photoshoot.
  • Lesson 6 is another demo lesson where Tyler shares his method for selecting and processing his images.
  • Lesson 7 is focused on the choice of camera and Tyler’s claim that he considers himself part of the “post-DSLR” generation.
  • Lesson 8 is based on the film photography in the studio. Tyler explains essentials such as key light, fill light, and rim light.
  • Lesson 9 shows how colors, props, and locations can help you shape and express your story.
  • Lesson 10 is about finding your audience online.
  • Lesson 11 is the final lesson, where Tyler shares his final advice to young photographers.

My favorite parts of Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass

Since I’m not a professional or aspiring photographer, I didn’t mind that Tyler’s class lacked theory, terminology, and rules.

After all, you have the Class Guide and other similar sources for this kind of information.

Tyler’s mission in this MasterClass was to explain how to tell a visual story and capture ideas, and he did so in a very mature, encouraging manner.

The course is short but effective and well-structured, not to mention beautifully shot, so I really enjoyed it.

Here are some of the chapters I particularly liked.

Telling stories with photography

Tyler Mitchell speaking in his MasterClass
Tyler Mitchell giving an example of how he told a story with a photograph

As a writer and storyteller, I was curious to hear what Tyler has to say about a completely different kind of storytelling.

As it turns out, the process of coming up with an idea is not so different. Just like writers, photographers use personal experience as well as collective experience, and they aim to express emotions.

According to Tyler, perspective is more important than technique. Although his images are thoughtfully shot, the focus is always on a specific moment – in many cases, we can see people doing something seemingly mundane, a simple pleasure that is a reflection of Tyler’s optimistic vision of young Black people.

Demo: Shooting outdoors with natural light

A photo by Tyler Mitchell
The best light is the sun – you just need to learn how to harness it

This lesson was particularly interesting to me because it included a demonstration of how to take good photos with your smartphone. You don’t need expensive equipment and a studio to make good pictures – you can use your phone and natural light.

And, as Tyler suggested, you should avoid taking photos outside between 10 and 2 a.m.

However, I do wish this lesson included more practical tips and suggestions.

Art directing your photos

Tyler Mitchell speaking in his MasterClass
Tyler discussing how he incorporates identity into his photography

In this lesson, Tyler explains how props, location, colors, and other elements can help you tell your story.

In his pictures, Tyler likes to capture seemingly mundane moments, but he always thinks carefully about how he wants to portray young Black men and other people around him.

He also talked about how Teen Vogue reached out to him about photographing Parkland mass shooting survivors and the way he approached the project.

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

The standard annual plan has been renamed "Plus" and is available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually), and now provides access to all MasterClass courses on two devices instead of one. The Premium plan, providing access for up to six devices costs $240 per year.

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 200+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that the "Standard" membership, priced at $72 per year, only gives you access to their short-form learning content – none of their full MasterClasses are included.

What I liked about Tyler Mithcell’s MasterClass

In my opinion, Tyler did a good job in teaching this class. He was serious and professional but also open and honest.

The entire course is fluid and easy to follow, and while it could offer more in-depth lectures, it covers everything you need to know to get things started.

Here are some of the reasons why I would recommend this class to young photographers interested in portrait photography.

Approachable content

I liked how this MasterClass made photography very approachable, in the sense that it showed that you don’t need an expensive camera to make good pictures. It’s all about finding your voice, knowing how to use natural light and composition, and capturing ideas. 

Inspiring lessons

The whole course feels very relaxing but also inspiring and encouraging, especially the parts where Tyler talks about his own experiences.

Tyler’s story is an example of how there are no limits – if you have a vision and you work hard, there’s nothing you can’t do, regardless of your age or background. That said, I’m sure he inspired many people to break the glass ceiling and achieve their goals.

Top-notch production quality

Needless to say, MasterClass videos are always such a pleasure to watch. I guess this class is particularly impressive because it includes a bunch of Tyler’s photos that fit in the course’s visuals so nicely.

Useful class guide

If you want to learn more, check out the useful and beautifully crafted PDF class guide.

Apart from the lessons’ summary, the guide contains some additional information and lists like Tyler’s essential photo books to help guide your artistic expression.

Drawbacks of Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass

Although I’m glad I took this course, there are some things that didn’t particularly work for me.

A bit too short

I know I sound a bit contradictory when I say that the duration of the course is both a good and a bad thing.

It’s a good thing if you already have a MasterClass subscription and you want to learn something new in an hour and a half. But for aspiring photographers who want to enhance their skills and learn new tricks, Tyler’s class might be a bit too short – and a bit too basic.

For instance, during demo lessons, Tyler spoke a lot about light, but it would be useful if he also provided practical tips regarding composition, cuts, even smartphone options, etc.

Additional ‘field’ and case study lessons would be nice as well.

But I guess it all depends on your needs and expectations.

Review conclusion: Is Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass worth it?

At the end of the course, I wished that there was more content. While that proves the quality of the course, it also indicates that the course is not particularly long and detailed.

Nevertheless, if you have a MasterClass subscription, it’s certainly worth taking.

I was drawn to the title of the class, and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s a reason and a thoughtful, creative process behind all of Tyler’s images, and it was interesting to hear more about his approach, ideas, and vision.

I do, however, believe that those who want to get into professional photography would want to learn more about Tyler’s career path and photography-related technicalities, but considering the duration of the class, that would just be too much.

Tyler Mitchell’s MasterClass is concise and visually stunning, and it manages to capture many ideas in a little time without being overwhelming – so, in a way, it’s just like Tyler Mitchell’s photography.