Hip Hop Work

Badu 6.20.13 Drake & Trey Songz London 2017Drake Sade London 2017Kanye at Fools Gold Anniversary Party BK Bowl 10.24.10

Mel D. Cole

Photography + Directing and Collaborations

Charcoal Pitch F.C.  Mel D. Cole founded the first Black owned sports photography agency dedicated to creatively exploring soccer/football.

Heidi: In the forward to GREAT, Questlove symbolizes you with THE ROOTS.  “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

Mel: Yeah that obviously is HUGE! Questlove has been a big part of the reason I am where I am in my career. Without him I might be in a different place.

You have a history of documenting culture. This past week you documented a battle, what made this instance different for you?
It felt more like a war, an invasion. It was hostile, people died. That’s the major difference. That day was more life or death than any other day for me. 

You covered the BLM protests, obviously topics were very different this time. Describe any differences you experienced in terms of the crowds, the energies, your safety, etc..
As always most of my safety issues come from the cops. I have not had any major issues with members of BLM or pro Trump supporters. The major difference is what each side is fighting for. Both side passionately want their side to win!

How did you prepare for your own safety, was it adequate?
I came with goggles and a helmet. I left the helmet at the Trump rally. So to be honest I was not very prepared. But that won’t happen again. I ordered a gas mask and other items to make sure that I am ready for the next time.

Did you formulate your interview questions in advance? I noticed in all instances you were extremely polite using, please and sir. Was it difficult to stay calm in the chaos?
No I kinda wing it. I go with the flow. I know having good manners will take you places and using a calm tone in my voice lets the person know I mean them no harm at all.

Did you ever feel threatened?
Yes. It was very scary at times.

What would you like your peers and viewers to know about this experience?
That there’s a human behind every photo that I captured that day and they all have stories to tell. Right or wrong, there’s a story and it’s important for history’s sake to continue to tell those stories.

Recommended Posts


  1. Nice article i really love the art of this post.

    I recommend to every young photographers to read a book called ” Life’s Portfolio”. it’s available on amazon: https://amzn.to/2JsPCSk

  2. Two weeks later and this series stands as the best work from the January 6th attack on the capital. The choices made behind the camera created images of historical resonance instead of just capturing what plays out in front of the camera. The photographer put themselves in harm’s way and sought out the stories inside the chaos. Thank you for your work.

Comments are closed for this article!