Skip To Main Content Skip To Footer

A Newport Wonderland with Nick Mele

Text by Brian McManus | Photos by Nick Johnson and Nick Mele
View the charming seaside town through the unique lens of the talented photographer.

There’s not much Nick Mele can’t do behind the lens of his camera. Through it the world gets more interesting. Bolder. More colorful. (Even, somehow, when shot in black and white.) On the other side of the lens, the famed lifestyle photographer also showcases his talent, vividly displayed here as the camera turns to capture him in Newport, Rhode Island. Take a look inside Nick Mele’s Newport, which often includes visits to The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection.

That won’t be a surprise to the thousands who follow his Instagram account, which frequently sees him turning the camera on himself and his family in ornate, audacious, luxurious, extravagant settings. (“More is more and less is a bore,” is his oft-stated motto.) But in this photo essay, one that includes photos of and by Mele, we hope readers get a sense of just how well he knows every aspect of his craft—what makes a great photo, whether he’s the one pointing the camera or grinning in its direction

Nick Mele on the steps of The Vanderbilt in his beloved Newport, Rhode Island. From this vantage point he can see the home of his in-laws, who live a stone’s throw away.
“In many ways, Newport is one of the last bastions of old school American high society. The grand houses of yesteryear still stand—often untouched by modern renovation and style.”
—Nick Mele

Mele has a drink inside The Dining Room at The Vanderbilt.

Image from "A Newport Summer."

Nick Mele in the mirror of The Dining Room at The Vanderbilt. Photo by Nick Mele.

“It is a town that refuses to forget its history and tradition. Walking through people’s homes, you can almost see the ghosts of parties past—splendid cocktail affairs and marvelous dinners that have left a palpable imprint behind.”
—Nick Mele

With the latter, he can change the mood of what’s in frame by simply raising his brow, opening his eyes widely to show their whites, or tilting his body ever so slightly. His expressive face is a broad canvas.

Newport is where Mele summered as a child (and still now, as a grown man, husband and father of two), where his mother and in-laws still live and where he visits very often. He understands the vibrant seaside town like he understands his camera’s aperture. “They filmed the original ‘Gatsby’ here, the one with Robert Redford,” he’ll toss off casually while pulling up to Rosecliff, a Gilded Age mansion on the edge of town, just down the road from the churning waters of the Atlantic and his childhood summer home.

“Underneath everyone’s perception of its wealth, Newport has an understated elegance—the things that set it apart from every other summer destination— a charming patina from generations of being.”
—Nick Mele
Nick Mele on the edge of town, on the hood of a vintage Mustang, provided by The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection. Driving a classic car is an experience offered to guests of the hotel.

In his book of photos about this magical place, A Newport Summer, he captures images of the season in which it comes most alive, breaking it down month to month—the parties, the clambakes, the sunshine, the revelry, the joy and, as always, the color.

Nick Mele unlocks the secret closet inside the The Vanderbilt’s Parlour.

Mele is transported to another era via The Green Hour, an absinthe experience inside the Parlour.

Nick Mele inside The Reserve Room at The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection.

A secret phone inside the hotel’s Reserve Room. “Much like typewriters, old landlines have taken on something of a romantic quality, don’t you think?” asks Mele. Photo by Nick Mele.

“I appreciate Newport’s respect for conservation, connection and multigenerational entertaining in the face of an ever-evolving present and future.”
—Nick Mele