Together Loves | Aleisha McNiece & Melissa Mills


Together Journal regular contributor and writer of our ‘Gems of Wisdom’ feature each issue, Aleisha McNiece teams up with Melissa Mills to create this beautiful shoot for Together Journal…

Tell us about your relationship, how you got to know each other and work together?

Aleisha of Lucy Chase:

I moved back to Hawke’s Bay in December and launched the business at the same time.  I met Melissa in March and she was super proactive and keen on collaborating.  My kind of person! Prior to this shoot Melissa shot a couple of styled tables on the farm for my Lucy Chase portfolio.  She turned up in her gumboots and was so patient with me and my vision.  Needless to say, I was pretty taken with her – both behind the scenes and the final output.  Melissa proposed this styled shoot with a bounty of local industry folk and of course I jumped at the opportunity. It meant lots of coffee dates and creative chat.

Melissa Mills Photographer:

After moving here just over a year ago I arrived not knowing a soul.  I slowly started to meet other creatives and wedding vendors through industry catch ups.  We’re a small bunch down here in Hawkes Bay so it’s about a one degree of separation.  I was really keen to invest in a project over winter so I put the call out to Loco Hair, Josie Brenstrum Make Up, Magdalen Hill, Organic Ash and Lucy Chase, everyone excitedly put their hands up.



What was the main inspiration behind this shoot?


The idea of ‘less is more approach’ inspired us. Aleisha and I talked in length about keeping the shoot very simple, minimalistic and including elements that worked around a sustainable philosophy.  Aleisha sourced products that were handmade or made locally and we favoured vendors that also held this kind of philosophy close to their hearts such as Organic Ash, who created the cake, Toni from Magdalen Hill created the most amazing flowers using dried flowers which also fitted our brief perfectly.  In terms of photography because our theme worked around the less is more philosophy I not only wanted to document the beautiful details but also really concentrate on really bringing the environment into the images, making them intimate and creating a mood using the surroundings. From the outset we both wanted to include black and white images into the series as nothing portrays mood like black and white.





Tell us a little bit about what is going on ‘behind the scenes’?


Many meetings over coffee, a lot of preparation, especially on Aleisha’s and Toni’s behalf and some great laughs. You should have seen Aleisha and I lugging the table through the reeds at the beach, it was hilarious.


We split the shoot over 2 days which was risky with the light but we were keen to take our time and not be worrying about the table blowing away while we were shooting the model.  It was very entertaining fitting 6 chairs and a table along with everything else into a station wagon and having everything hanging out the back, I learnt to tie knots that day.  Once we set the table we waited for the light to do it’s thing and sat like queens at the table for a good half hour. We forgot the wine which was a bit of a rookie mistake!



How do you go about sourcing all the elements for a styled shoot?


Melissa was amazing at selecting like minded vendors who all had a similar vision and aesthetic.  We were on the search for a model and I met Ren at a 90’s dress up party the weekend after we had been chatting about potentials.  We loved working with such a down to earth beauty and may be biased but think she nailed the modelling!  After a few brainstorming chats we narrowed the dresses down to Juliette Hogan, we loved the simplicity of her collection and best of all – home grown.  As far as the table setting, we wanted to use pieces that were attainable for weddings.  Lucy Chase is part hire company so the table and chairs were from our own hire collection.  The plates are Wundaire and available to hire through Pop Roc Parties. The napkins are also part of the Lucy Chase collection.  Sourcing was generally about pooling together what we have and who we know. I love that everyone is always so enthusiastic and willing to get behind styled shoots.



Tell us about some of the design elements?


The floral was entirely dried. I LOVE this idea and Toni’s bouquet was absolutely breath taking. This aspect of the shoot was a favourite.  We decided to cloth the table to soften it, as Melissa soon realised I am a little obsessed with fabrics and colours. The colour of the cloth leant itself nicely to the surrounds and palette.  I built a timber riser for the middle of the table to give some height and a little point of interest. I liked the play on textures of the wood against the woven fabric and cement pavers.



Tell us about working as a team and how that drives the project?


I’ve learnt that it’s really important for everyone to understand what the project is trying to achieve and that means a good amount of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page.  A pinterest board is a necessity and then once everyone has a clear vision I think it’s much easier for the team members to really throw themselves into the project and develop something that contributes to the brief but also shows off their individual talents.


Hair, Loco Hair |Makeup, Josie Brenstrum  | Clothing, Juliet Hogan | Cake, Organic Ash | Styling, Lucy Chase | Photography, Melissa Mills | Model – Renae Routley | Florist, Magdalen Hill