Starting in 2002 as just a fan with a disposable camera taking pictures of the artists that inspired him, Mel D. Cole has evolved into one of the most accomplished and celebrated music photographers around while documenting a critical moment in music when Hip Hop took over the world.
And now, after 17 years of pictures, we are releasing the first book of Mel's work. And it's GREAT.
Historically known as the official photographer of the Legendary Roots Crew, Mel can often be seen on the road with Trey Songz as his personal photographer. He shot Diddy's legendary white party, was a sponsored ambassador for Heineken tasked with shooting and celebrating NYC nightlife, and in 2018 was hired by Google to photograph celebrities and VIPS at Coachella.
Foreword by Ahmir "Questlove Thompson"
As Questlove mentions in the foreword to the book, it was Mel’s passion for the music that earned him a level of trust and intimacy ultimately allowing him to go beyond concert pictures into meaningfully capturing the vulnerability and the most intimate moments in the lives of the artists he documents: A young Kendrick Lamar at SXSW, an elated and exhausted smile from Kanye backstage, Trey Songz on the phone with his mother, The Roots, road weary and always working, Diddy’s legendary White Party-- GREAT is the first and only comprehensive look at not only Mel’s body of work but of a moment in music history itself when hip hop took over the music world.
"I've heard music compared to many things. Some say it's a game. Some say it's hell. I say it's a war. Photographers are correspondents in this war documenting every battle. Every step of the way. The invading Beatles had Harry Benson. Jenny's Lens was the West Coast Punk scene's eye. Run DMC & The Beastie Boys had Ricky Powell and the Roots had Mel D. Cole— or should I say Mel D. Cole had us?"
– Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, from the foreword.
GREAT will be published as a beautiful hardcover book available to everyone for $75. It will also be released as a Limited Edition built for collector's in a custom clamshell case with a handful of other bells and whistles.
It's BIG (12" x 15") and It's BEAUTIFUL.
GREAT is nearly two decades of photographs documenting a time where Hip Hop took over pop culture at-large.
GREAT will be published as a beautiful hardcover book available to everyone for $75.00.
GREAT will also be produced in a collector's edition of 2000 copies worldwide in some very custom packaging.
The Collector's Editions are split into the SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER EDITION and the PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHER EDITION.
THE SELF-TAUGHT PHOTOGRAPHER EDITION: #'s 501-2000 of 2000
The Self-Taught Photographer Edition of GREAT comes in a custom clamshell case containing a functional custom 35mm disposable camera (much like the one Mel started on), a booklet of 20 GREAT Postcards and a GREAT backstage pass signed and numbered by Mel.
20 GREAT POSTCARDS
A custom booklet of 20 postcards featuring some of Mel D's most iconic shots.... And yes, you can put a stamp on them and mail them to a friend.
THE BACKSTAGE PASS
Instead of a simple signature page, we did a signature backstage pass-- They are all signed and numbered by Mel.
THE PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHER EDITION: #'s 1-500 of 2000
#s 1-500 of the GREAT belong to the PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHER EDITION- it will come with everything that the SELF-TAUGHT Edition does but will also include an archival quality, signed 12” x 16” digital print (Questlove, NY 2008.) that is ready for you to frame as you like. The print will will ship in a custom vellum envelope inside the clamshell case.
But Why a Book?
We’ve spent the last few years together with Mel digging through 30,000+ images to create and curate what we believe is the best and most complete look at his work as an artist and documentary photographer. GREAT gives us the opportunity to release Mel's work as a complete, tangible and experiential object, not unlike a band's decision to drop an album on vinyl in the age of digital streaming. We wanted to create a lasting record of Mel's work that could be experienced beyond tiny screens and would survive beyond the typical life cycles of social media.
Experience and Quality
We are life-long book, design, music and fashion people and we have collectively worked for more than 20 years with the biggest and most celebrated art and photography publishers out there (we don't drop names).
Although this is the first book we have done under our own imprint, we have often experienced first hand the joys and pitfalls of traditional publishing and knew we could develop a unique approach.
We know how to make beautiful and exceptional books and look forward to GREAT being the next great addition to both your shelves and ours.
By using a platform like Kickstarter and producing the project independently of outside pressure, we knew we'd be able to create exactly the book we'd always imagined, reach a community of like-minded people who are committed to great design and creative projects, and produce at a lower cost with less risk.
Full Specifications of Each Edition
144 pages, spot varnish throughout, printed on 155 gsm uncoated art paper.
Digitally printed linen cover with foil stamped text.
Foreword by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the Roots .
12" W x 15" H (31 cm x 38 cm)
Limited Edition Packages
Custom clamshell case with magnetic closure. Linen bound with embossed text and images on cover.
Signature Backstage Pass 2.5" x 4" (6 cm x 10 cm)
Functional Disposable 35mm camera, skinned in custom packaging.
Booklet of 20 GREAT postcards, 4" x 6" (10 cm x 15 cm)
#'s 1-500 include a 12" x 16" (31 cm x 41 cm) digital, archival quality print, "Questlove Backstage, NY 2008" signed by Mel D. Cole
Case Dimensions 21" W X 19" H X 4" D (53 cm x 48 cm x 10 cm)
Risks and challenges
Having worked in design and book production for years we understand and anticipate the things that can go wrong during production-- specifically as it pertains to our limited edition.
We have, however, already produced several prototypes and are already in the process of doing some final tests on materials and techniques to make sure we get 100% of what we are looking for.
This an ambitious project but one that we are very excited to tackle and we look forward to keep our backers up to date during pre-press and production.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)