It Takes a Village: Inside the Lucky Break Photo Shoot

Lela Barker

This blog is the final installment of a series which takes a peek inside the process of rebranding Lucky Break Consulting. You’re invited to catch part 1, which explores how I learned to really listen to my customers and develop a website built especially for them. Part 2 details how I used Pinterest to define my brand style and create brand mood and inspiration boards. Part 3 offers a backstage tour of the logo development process and part 4 details how we brought the website from concept to creation. Thanks for following along!


You know how they say it takes a village to accomplish a seemingly insurmountable task? Yes, well… getting me in front of a camera, looking good and feeling confident might as well take a few villages. Styling photo shoots is my jam, but being in front of the camera is far outside my comfort zone. But I knew that this gorgeously designed website would fall flat if I didn’t locate my big girl panties and slip them on for a branded photo shoot to create imagery for the new Lucky Break. So, slip them on I did…


I have art directed more than a dozen photo shoots for Bella Lucce over the years and served in an advisory position on shoots for several other creative brands, so this wasn’t new territory for me, and yet I’m continually awed by how much thought and preparation is invested in well-executed photo shoots. Preparation for this shoot began weeks before the camera was picked up and involved more than 80 hours of prep before the lips were lined and the curls perfected.


I began by searching for a local portrait photographer and- thankfully- that was a delightfully short search. My dear friend Laura of Shine Hair Color & Design Studio (tamer of my curls for the past 8 years, honey of a woman and superstar entrepreneur) introduced me to Lucas Brown of Kickstand Studio and I was instantly smitten with his portfolio. I wrote him on fairly short notice, and we agreed to tuck a shoot into his busy schedule just two weeks later. Commence 80 hours of frantic preparation!




I shared the brand inspiration Pinterest board and my brand style guide with Lucas to give him a flavor for the shoot and he began honing in on shoot locations. Lucas suggested 701 Whaley for indoor shots (those textured walls with smudges of green plaster? *swoon*) and Lace House Gardens for outdoor shots.  I wanted the shoot to feel modern while exuding southern charm, and we were cognizant of the new Lucky Break color palette of greens and gold. I scouted the locations, snapped a few test shots on my iPhone, and the planning began.




In the week that followed, I spent an ungodly amount of time searching Nordstrom online for wardrobe options. I wanted clothes I felt comfortable in, and clothes that expressed my personal style while ensuring that I was “on brand” with Lucky Break. That meant heaps of black and lots of leather, cashmere, and leggings. I’m pretty adverse to malls, and I prefer the comfort of shopping in my pajamas, so the UPS man made several stops at my house that week. There was some trying on and returning, but such is life. I enjoyed using Polyvore to put together virtual outfits and sharing them with Melissa, my Operations Manager, for feedback.



Wardrobe2 Wardrobe3Once I had confirmed wardrobe, I dove head first into prop shopping. I knew that I wanted shots of a stylized desk, which meant hauling my actual desk down to the shoot location and using a combination of prettys that sit upon it every day, mingled with a few shiny bits to further root the images in my brand style.  I snagged these whimsical animal mugs from West Elm, an amazing hand lettered mug from Lily & Val, custom pencils form Row House 14, a custom cake (white chocolate and blueberry, please!) from Chocolate Nirvana, and a gorgeous bouquet from FTD (in my brand colors, but of course!). I also bought myself a fancy Silhouette paper cutter to create custom lettered banners and I spent a few hours in my local crafts store rummaging supplies for various photo props, include a couple of paper mache letters that I eventually bathed in emerald glitter.






In addition to selecting wardrobe essentials and prop shopping, I spent a significant amount of time pouring through our website mockups, thinking carefully about the kind of shots we’d need to capture. The mix included headshots for my professional portfolio, editorial shots we could use for rotating images on the home page, editorial images to lay text over for social media graphics and fun shots of me to sprinkle throughout the Lucky Break website. I developed a shot list that detailed each image, how it would be used, and what wardrobe options would correspond to each picture. It also included a packing list for props, too. Bonus points: a list of responsibilities for Christina, my assistant at Bella Lucce, who graciously agreed to serve as ground support the day of the shoot. You’re invited to view my shot list here, and feel free to snicker at the fact that I had someone assigned to Chin Watch duty. It’s a lot of chin to manage some days!


That shot list was circulated between Melissa, Christina, Lucas, and I and refined until we had a viable game plan for the day. The day before the shoot, I enjoyed a facial from Lindy at Occo and a dry-run makeup application, which I always find helpful when working with new makeup artists. After a week of doing my damnedest to sleep well and drink plenty of water, I reported for duty at Shine at 8am in my pajamas. Laura tackled the curls, Lindy tamed the eyebrows, I sipped green tea and we were off at the races.




We captured close to a thousand frames over the course of 4 hours at 2 locations. Lucas the photographer brought along his assistant, Marcus, and the day went shockingly well. The energy was delightful, the weather cooperated, and Christina reminded me whenever my chins began to double. Here are a few outtakes from the day…








The best part of the day? Two minutes after we wrapped that shoot and 30 seconds after we hopped into my car, Christina dug into the Hustle Cake. A just reward for generously helping me hustle all day!




I gave Lucas my blessing to digitally erase the dark circles that raising 4 kids (3 of which are teenagers) and running 3 companies have earned me and I’m not the least bit ashamed. My husband was sitting on the couch in my office when the final images came in from Lucas and he’s still mocking the awkward, reflexive “squeak” I emitted as I opened the first image. Lucas Brown: you did me right, sugar, and I thank you.












What I’m most proud of is that those pictures don’t betray how incredibly awkward I feel in front of a camera. I can think of 117 tortuous things I’d rather endure, but I’m keenly aware of how vital this type of imagery is. I generally have 2 “work modes”: I’m either rocking the lip gloss and leather leggings because I’m teaching live to a crowd or curled up in my pajamas, sans makeup, in a comfy chair at home (pup at my feet) while building curriculum, coaching my entrepreneurial clients via phone or hosting strategy meetings with my team. 98% of the time, I’m in pajama mode.




1. Invest time in strategic planning + organization.

Think carefully about what you want each image to communicate. Reflect on your ideal customer and choose locations, wardrobe choices and props which resonate with that target audience. Build a shot list to maximize time and ensure you hit the marks needed.


2. Bring together your village.

I’m not in the least bit ashamed to tell you that these images were the result of teamwork: a professional photographer who knows the angles, a lighting assistant to bounce around the sunbeams, an assistant to lint brush the remnants of my pup and tell me to suck in a bit, a hair stylist who makes my curls look better than I ever could and makeup artist that knows how to apply eye liner. In my 39th year… I still have never, ever done it myself. I’m not the sort of gal who needs an assistant to hand her a tissue when I sneeze, but I’m totally the girl who’s happy to pull together a talented team for a few hours to help move my business forward.


3. Remember to put your images in context.

Sketch out your game plan before you hit the ground running. Put each image into context and think about the orientation, the color palette, the shoot location and the photo props to ensure that you’re capturing imagery that fits the bill.


4. Walk through the paces before the shoot day.

If I’m working with a new makeup artist the morning of a shoot and I realize 20 minutes before we’re scheduled to start that she’s far more of a mascara fan than I’d prefer, then I have precious little time to scrub up and start fresh. If I’m working with a new photographer, I spend some time with them to ensure we have a comfortable rapport and good energy before I hire them for the gig.

And call me vain, but I always walk through the shots in front of my mirror the night before. Doing so helps me feel more comfortable in the moment while keeping the shoot moving along at a nice clip.


5. Organize your wardrobe.

I’m not exactly what you would call “slender,” but I have learned what colors work with my skin tone and what cuts flatter my figure. I know what works and I use it to my advantage whenever possible.

I try everything on in a full-length mirror days before the shoot to ensure that the pieces play nicely together. I’ve never hired a personal stylist, but I do spend a respectable amount of time shopping, assimilating outfits and troubleshooting.

Finally, be certain that you’ve steamed and lint brushed your wardrobe selections the night before. I actually create tags that fit over my hangers (think: an index card, a Sharpie and a hole punch), each bearing a number that corresponds to my shot list. So when the photographer reads from his shot list and decides that shot #17 is up next, my team can see that shot 17 is in outfit 4. They head over to the clothing rack and quickly identify the related wardrobe pieces. A tag is tucked into my shoes and a ziploc bag is punched + draped over the hanger to hold all the jewelry pieces.  Efficiency makes me happy… if only my closet were as organized.


A tip of the hat to Lucas, Laura and Lindy (hooray for the “L” team!) for helping me look my best.


It’s true, you know: the magic happens just outside your comfort zone. I’m so glad that I stepped out of mine. When was the last time you stepped out of yours and how did that pan out? Drop a comment below… I’d love to hear about it!


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

2 responses on “It Takes a Village: Inside the Lucky Break Photo Shoot

  1. The Nova Studio

    Anything face-to-face is difficult for me (manager Cassie) but every once in awhile I am called to work in person with students & teachers before, after or during a class, and as awkward as it is, I also find it helps ground me to what I do. Otherwise, it’s a whole lotta theoretical up in here!

  2. Tiffany Lawson

    I’m having a photo shoot done in December for all of my products and photos of myself for the about page as well. We weren’t able to find a stylist available. So I suppose that falls to me. I’m trying to come up with ideas but it’s hard. I’m on Pinterest a lot pinning things that I could copy. But I wish it was a little more original. The photographer is amazing. So I’m hoping I can figure the rest of this out myself. Do you have any advice on props and other things to bring to us shit like this as a brand owner? I’ll have all my products and some outfits. I thought maybe a bunch of beakers with pale pink peonies in this….I bought some antique science equipment and books…ideas would be wonderful!!!!

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