Photographer Mel Frank has been growing cannabis for over 30 years.
He’s a real expert in the field, having even published the first ever manual on weed cultivation, Marijuana Grower’s guide Delux, in 1978. But his passion and knowledge have gone way beyond the academic; Mel has been snapping his plants in a bid to capture their beauty and to record decades of illegal activity. His photographs were used to chronicle and promote cannabis botany – illustrating all kinds of books and articles on the subject over Mel’s 40-year career.
‘The images also served as the artist’s personal record of guerrilla growers and breeders who collectively helped create the seminal varieties that have come to define today’s marijuana,’ a release says.
‘The photos are an international and descriptive record of what growing looked like at a particular time – before cultural acceptance, giant indoor grows and legalisation.’
They may represent previous criminality but they also represent ‘innocence and optimism; many of the photos have a giddiness about them, an awe, maybe an aspect of braggadocio – look what we hid, see what we grew…‘.
And now that weed is legal in California, Mel is a much sought-after expert on the subject. His images are about to be revealed to the public as part of a new exhibition based at the M+B Photo gallery in LA, called ‘When We Were Criminals’.