In honor of our collaboration with acclaimed hip hop photographer Mel D. Cole (peep the sale here), we caught up with him and chatted about highschool, the images in the PLNDR collaboration, authenticity and more.
Heather: Mel, what were you like in highschool?
Mel: I started off playing football and chasing girls. I soon stopped playing football, got into fights and stopped giving a fuck about my grades. I went to 3 different high schools, I sold a lil bit of drugs, started smoking weed and drinking 40oz of that shit! I dropped out eventually. But I got my GED and went to college and now I have a A.A and a B.A. I got my shit together!
H: What’s your earliest memory with a camera?
M: Hmmm, maybe using my Dad’s Polaroid at his record shop in Syracuse over 20 years ago.
H: Why do you think people find your images so arresting?
M: Do you mean interesting? If so, I think my shit is interesting to people because of how real, raw, fun, entertaining, candid and creatively simplistic my work can be. I’m a straight forward shooter for the most part, I don’t like to use too many tricks or bells/whistles.
H: Describe what you’re all about in three words.
M: Creativity, Longevity, Football.
H: A lot of people describe your imagery as quite simply “RAW’ – I think that definitely translated to the tees. Tell us about images in the PLNDR collab. Can you speak to the concept a bit?
M: Half of the concept was to photograph ladies with mascot heads and masks in a sexy, crazy, fun, raw, gritty sexual, insane kind of way. I wanted to do some stuff that I had never been seen before…like a photograph of a girl in the subway station with a Barney head on, holding a machine gun. The other half was to simply photograph two of my favorite babes doing what they do best…look sexy! I wanted to show a contrast to the craziness of what I did with the mask images.
H: Do you think that being a self-taught photographer gives you more authenticity?
M: Fuck and no! That’s kinda silly. I wish I studied photography in school. But to be honest I hated it when I was in college. It did not move me then like it does now. I didn’t understand it and to a certain extent I still don’t fully understand photography. Any photographer that says they do is a complete idiot and is being ridiculously cocky as there is ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW TO LEARN!
H: What’s the best image of all time?
M: Is there one? I can tell you who the best looking woman of all time is… Vanessa Williams! Look her up young bucks! She is a classic beauty! I also love this babe whose face is new to me…Hannah Simone!!! She fucking rocks!
H: You’re known for going to crazy lengths to get that perfect shot. Any good stories to share?
M: I am? haha No for real..people think that? Once, I jumped out of an airplane with my disposable camera to test how film holds up at 20 thousand feet while shooting a porn star who was nude. She had a 10 inch dildo that was perfectly matched to fit her anus. She had the biggest fake tits ever! They allowed her to fall slower than I did. They were like balloons! It was the best shoot ever! Too bad it never happened!
H: Do you have one image that you’re most proud of?
M: Nope, I have over 100 images that I am VERY proud of. It is hard to narrow down just one.
H: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
M: Go to college, it will change your life.