HARD + FAST, the first official collection of work by renowned rock photographer Melanie Nissen, is released today! Gracing the pages of the illustrious punk rock magazine SLASH from 1977-1980, her photos have always stood apart. In its early years, the L.A. punk scene was egalitarian, and the mix of people in her pictures is astonishing. Senior citizens, people of every race, children, swells in fancy clothes, people in rags – everyone was welcome. “The early years were special,” Nissen reflects. “There was a real sense of camaraderie and everyone was generous with their work.”
Published by Blank Industries, the hardbound collectible book features incredible photos of X, The Cramps, the Bags, Screamers, The Weirdos and much more. It is also available in a “special edition” bundle which comes with three exclusive 7” singles from Devo, the Go-Go’s and a Dangerhouse Records split single.
Immersed in the burgeoning scene herself, Nissen was friends with most of the people she photographed. This created a unique trust and comfort for her subjects to act naturally, injecting a biting sense of humor and extravagant body language into her photographs. There are also elements of formal portraiture evocative of work by Richard Avedon; like Avedon, Nissen sometimes prints her portraits framed with rough outlines of thick black ink that give them an unconventional edge.
When Nissen left Slash she embarked on a career in the record industry, working as a photographer and graphic designer for the four major labels – Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Virgin, and A&M – for more than two decades.