Styling the Perfect Shoot: Tips from Blogger and Stylist Alicia Lund

If you’re still mourning the end of Summer, these photos from this farm-to-fork dining spread will instantly get you in the mood for Fall. Alicia Lund from Cheetah is the New Black was inspired by this Sonoma farmhouse and dreamt up a shoot with seasonal produce and an Autumn color palette. She says, “My ideal Fall meal includes pasta (always a must) and good friends in an al fresco setting.”

Read more about the concept for this shoot and Alicia’s styling tips on how she brought her vision to life.

Book this rustic farmhouse for your event or production shoot.

b83b2062-960x640Photography by Just West

How did you get into styling?

Styling started out as just a hobby. I created my blog, Cheetah is the New Black when I was 23 (so I’ve been blogging for almost eight years now!). The blog opened the doors to many styling projects and opportunities. When I was living in New York, I worked for ELLE and was offered a couple styling projects without much experience. But once I worked behind the scenes and realized how much I enjoyed styling, I jumped right in.

What was the concept for this shoot?

I wanted to celebrate the start of Fall so I put together a dreamy feature using all natural elements. The wood, organic colors, and local produce came together for a rustic farm-to-fork meal. I also wanted to capture a group of girlfriends cooking together in the kitchen and enjoying each other’s company.

Why did you choose this location?   

I was actually hired as a stylist for a shoot there this past Spring. I had been thinking about that Sonoma farmhouse and wanted to go back there to shoot something that I came up creatively on my own.

b83b2925-960x640Photography by Just West

Can you talk about the process for this shoot and how it all came together?

For this dining experience I asked my talented girlfriend and photographer, Stephanie Russo, to capture the magic of the day, and my girlfriend and interior designer, Kristine Renee, to assist with the execution and furniture. I met with them both ahead of time and told them my vision.

I storyboarded the shoot first and came up with the color palette. After I created a mood board, I sourced different props to make my vision come to life. Once I started to find certain props, the shoot came together organically.

What are your styling tips for a shoot like this?

  • Organization: This is a big one for me!  As a stylist, and when planning a larger shoot like this one, it’s near impossible not to be organized as the details make or break the final result. Creating various lists is the only way I am able to bring everything together.  Shot lists, props needed, props others will be bringing etc.  Also key: reviewing and sending these various shot lists to the team.
  • Visualization: Along with organization and creating the shot lists, having a clear vision for your shoot and making sure your team is on the same page is key to the success. Everyone has a different perspective (which makes life interesting!) but because of this, if you aren’t clear, the exact same shoot could look completely different in your eyes than in your photographer’s.  Sharing examples, Pinterest boards, and going over the details with Stephanie beforehand has helped immensely in my work, but what has especially helped, is looking at the images together while on set.  
  • Knowing when to ask for help: Everything goes much smoother when you have a team to help you. Tasks are divided, projects are executed in a timely manor, the stresses of the day of are erased. Plus, it’s so much more fun bouncing ideas off others in the weeks leading up. Having both Stephanie and Kristine on location to bounce my ideas off of made the entire process that much more collaborative and stress free.

What is your advice to aspiring creatives interested in styling?

Collaborate with others! I’m currently pregnant and am realizing more than ever that I can’t do everything on my own. Collaborating with other creatives and being involved with each other is really important. You never know what opportunities will come from the people you meet. When you put yourself out there, or when two creative minds work together, that’s when I’ve found the most success.

b83b2360-960x640Photography by Just West

Fun questions:

I can’t leave the house without: My iPhone

My dream collaboration is: Chloé

If I could shoot anywhere in the world, it’d be:In California somewhere, probably Napa

When I’m not styling or blogging, you can find me: Hanging with my husband and preparing for our growing family! I’m in a nesting phase right now.

Life motto: Slow down and spend more time with the people closest to you.

Find a unique space for your next creative project.