BY JODI FRASER-BRYANT
What do you get when a local florist, photographer, antique dealer and events specialist collaborate their talents and think outside the box?
A stunning visual array of vintage creativity unlike anything Northlanders have seen.
Lisa Heenan of Cheers Party Hire has been in the industry for 11 years since noticing a gap in the hire market and, over the years, has built up an impressive show room of options for her customers.
However, while trawling through her partner Hamish Wain's Cowboy Junkies Antiques and Collectables shop, her keen eye for quirky props lead to ideas which swayed from the usual fairy lights and rustic trends. Soon she had her close industry colleagues - Amy Condon of Keepsake Bouquets and Dawn Dutton of Dawn Dutton Photography - on board and, together with Hamish, the four business owners combined their creative strengths to produce a collection of remarkably unique images.
"I thought wouldn't it be good to showcase what you can bring out of a small town with people who are top of the industry," explains Lisa, who provides and sources settings for events such as weddings, school balls, baby showers and corporate functions. "This was a collaboration of possibility to show that you don't just have to stick to what's on pinterest."
The three-day shoot was staged at Cowboy Junkies Antiques and Collectables, which proved the perfect backdrop. Hamish, a former prop maker and set dresser in the movie industry, had converted it to resemble a well-loved villa stuffed with a plethora of his collected treasures. He was happy to showcase a range of these as props, such a painting, chair, telephone and even taxidermy.
"The shop has been used to shoot music videos and short films so using it as a location for a fashion shoot seemed like a natural progression. The antiques as props were fun to use as they invoked a sense of nostalgia, grace and style, while remaining relevant in a modern world setting."
While, Lisa carried out make-up on the local models, who were dressed in feather creations by Cheers employee and owner of My Lemonade Stand Kayleigh and hair was done by Dan Matene of Dan Blk Creative, Amy assembled and staged the floral arrangements.
With over 20 years in the floristry industry, Amy specialises in silk, flax and vintage displays both nationally and internationally, as well as fresh flowers throughout Northland for events, ranging from weddings to high-profile international functions.
The photo shoot styling involved hair slides, crowns, bouquets, foliage, large venue arrangements and table garlands made from a combination of silk, fresh, dried and 'verge' flowers - fresh roadside weeds and grass seeds.
"It was exciting to be let loose to do whatever," she says. "There were no boundaries so we were free to let our imaginations go wild."
There to capture the scene, with a dark, dingy, vintagey underground mood, was multi-award winning wedding and portrait photographer Dawn Dutton.
"I love my job but this personal project enabled me to go into my deeper, darker self and really push boundaries. The setting inside was so dark that I was really having to push my camera to the limit and add light to it and I had to draw upon all of my knowledge and experience for this particular one."
Dawn says, while the rest of the team had full styling control, it was up to her to create the mood and bring all the elements together to make the images pleasing to the eye.
"I am quite a raw photographer and don't do a lot of Photoshopping so will spend a lot of time trying to get it right in camera. For example, there's certain ways a woman can bend her hand which will either make or break a photo."
The team were pleased with the result and, with these striking images now gracing their portfolios, along with the entrance wall to Lisa's business premises, she is hoping it will open the minds' of clients.
"It's high-end vintage and quite vogueish," she describes. "I don't think there has been anything like this in Northland before. There are some beautiful things out there and a lot of talent and we're really just show-casing what we can do, as well as being open to new ideas. There may be certain aspects that people will choose from each photo or they might use them for inspiration."