Breed Academy Instructor Tyler Mitchell

I met Tyler Mitchell in early October, 2009. His email to me, looking for assisting work, landed right in front of my face when I just got off the phone with my 1st assistant who asked me if I could get a 2nd assistant on board for a shoot the following day. I hit Tyler back, he said he was available, and that’s how it all started. Long story short, after the aforementioned shoot, my 1st assistant took me aside and told me to “Hire him. Immediately. Don’t let that guy out of your sight.” And that’s exactly what I did. At that time, when I met Tyler, I was sorely in need of some real solid help. I had one guy as my 1st assistant, another guy taking care of handling my images and yet a third one doing my retouching. All of sudden, when Tyler and I connected, I had all 3 needs taken care of by one amazing dude. It was magic. 

In the 30 years I’ve been shooting I’ve never quite had such a solid connection with an assistant as I did with Tyler. He became indispensable, which to a photographer like myself who needs serious help with this crazy industry that becomes a source you can’t live without. Tyler took care of everything from making sure the EQ orders were correct to making sure the super drunk fashion editor made it back to her hotel room safely. He was on top of the digi-techs, he was making sure the lighting set ups were accurate, he was making sure at all times, my camera was set at the proper exposure, he was on top of the dude responsible for ordering the food for the set, I mean, you name the task, he was on it.

But here’s the thing that one has to understand when you work in this industry, a good assistant is also looking to take his career to the next level. Unless he is signing up to be a professional assistant, there’s going to come that day when they want to move forward. And we understood that day when it came, as sad as it was, probably more for me just because I had really grown to love the guy. He was like my little brother and it was hard to see it end but I totally understood it. Even though, I will say, I’ll be on set nowadays and feel just a slight sigh of “wow, I really miss those days with Tyler”.

Below are some of my favorite images that Tyler not only retouched, he was there on set with me, getting the light just right, making sure my camera settings were on point and then enhancing the epic-ness of the imagery to finally produce the final product.

Melissa Rodwell