How To Create A Photography Mood Board That Works For You

How To Create A Photography Mood Board That Works For You

Technology has changed the way photographers create mood boards. Gone are the days of stacking a handful of printouts on a corkboard. Digital photography mood boards are in. In digital photography mood boards, you can also include video clips, website links, color palettes, and more.

Mood board is an effective visual presentation of concepts and inspirations to develop and evoke a particular style in the project. No mood board looks the same. Every photography mood board is unique and highly personalized. It is created with the photographer’s personal vision and style.

If you are not sure how to create one, the following information will guide you to develop a photography mood board that works for you.

What does a Mood Board do?

What does a Mood Board do?

A mood board is a collage of curated images used to communicate the visual direction of a project. It is also a great tool for collaboration between clients and the creative team. It helps to get everyone working together towards achieving a particular concept or “mood”.

Many professionals use mood boards extensively other than interior design and wedding planning. Creating a mood board is in fact, one of the initial steps in planning for any big projects. A mood board is more than just a stack of different images. It visually organizes raw ideas and turns them into a fully conceptualized creative direction.

Nowadays, mood boards are completely virtual, however, some people still create it out of printed photos and cutouts. Digital mood boards are cost-effective and time-saving. They are also easier to create and deliver to people involved in collaboration and feedback.

Mood boards are commonly used in industries such as interior design, wedding planning, advertising, and fashion. But recently, photographers extensively use online pinboards such as Pinterest to save inspirations and form ideas.

Advantages of Using a Mood Board

Some might be thinking what does a stack of images do? They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is true. Every image in a mood board conveys a message and a purpose. A professional mood board is a photographer’s valuable tool in every shoot. A photography mood board also:

  • Establishes a strong, cohesive foundation for a project. It reminds the photographer and the creative team of the target concepts and results;
  • Enables clients to further understand the concept and have the same idea in mind. It also helps them go along with the visual direction and get more involved;
  • Creates a clear vision while doing other tasks;
  • Helps identify the equipment and other resources needed for the project;
  • Allows photographers to create unique concepts by combining different elements from different photos

How to Create a Mood Board?

Mood boards are meant to inspire, not to be copied entirely, and most of the time, some elements in a mood board do not appear in the final output. The photos in a mood board only represent the qualities and aesthetics of a brand or a concept.

When creating a mood board, remember that less is more. The mood boards provided by agencies usually have 5 to 15 images at most. Stick to this range and keep it minimal. Putting too many photos and elements creates confusion on what concept you are trying to achieve.

Most of the time, photographers are provided with information about a concept of a company project. Photographers should keep the branding or the agreed concept in mind when creating a photography mood board. Here are other valuable tips on how to build a professional mood board:

Formulate an Overall Idea and Concept

Formulate an Overall Idea and Concept
Image source: Mark van den Broek

Formulating an overall idea and concept for the photoshoot does not mean whipping a completely new concept out of thin air. Identify the details of the photoshoot like the brand, style, location, type of clothing, and more.

If it’s for a magazine, is this for an editorial on vintage fashion, a feature section on street outfits, or a look book on swimwear? Are the images supposed to look commercial or not? Are you shooting in a studio or outdoors? These types of questions help photographers create a “mood” and visual direction for the photoshoot.

To formulate the concept, begin by gathering images that contain the elements you have in mind which include the color scheme, ambiance, texture, or style of lighting.

Use Existing Materials as a Starter

After establishing the visual direction of the photoshoot, you may begin gathering materials for your mood board by adding any existing materials you have as your additional references like photos from previous photoshoots, references from clients, design elements from an existing brand, and more. These materials might be discarded in the final mood board, however, these will help you have something to build on.

The source for inspiration is limitless. Photographers may gather images from magazines, blogs, stock photo providers, advertisements, and more. After collecting the materials needed, photographers can use private Pinterest boards to save and organize the images.

Many photographers use Pinterest boards to save any visual inspirations they find online like model poses for photoshoots. They continuously save images in these pinboards to have an archive of inspirations. Aside from Pinterest, photographers can get visual inspirations from Designspiration and Instagram.

Write Important Details and Notes on Every Photo

Write Important Details and Notes on Every Photo

Image source: Marina

Mood boards don’t just contain images, they also contain texts. Use short descriptions to explain such a choice of photos and clarify and fill in any information that photos are unable to provide about the concept. In every mood board, it is important to highlight important elements to make sure the clients understand.

For example, you saved an interior design reference photo for a cooking recipe shoot. Put a note as to why the photo was included in the mood board like it was chosen as a reference for a color scheme.

The contents of a mood board are not limited to images only. Adding texts and keywords can help communicate the ideas and concepts more effectively to the clients.

Be More Creative

Be More Creative

There is no limit to what your inspirations can be. You may refer to music, fine arts, and films for visual inspiration, after all, you are creating a “mood” for a photoshoot. You can embed a song from Spotify, audio from Soundcloud, video clip from YouTube, animated GIFs from Giphy or Tenor, or even a meme from 9GAG.

You may also look into museum archives for works of art. If you’re looking for something a little bit more unconventional, you may head on to your nearest public library and make photocopies of your chosen materials.

Keep it Organized

Photographers use mood boards to convince their clients and convey a concept, not make them confused. Remember, the rule is to keep the number of images within the 5 to 15 range, and this is to avoid overwhelming your clients with too many photos. Save the most relevant and prominent ones among your stash of images.

Arrange the design elements according to their importance to the visual concept. Select a key design element to anchor your board. Adjust the size and position of the other elements and arrange them as to how they are relevant and connected to one another.

Be Simple, Use a Document Program

Be Simple, Use a Document Program

Pinterest is one of the most popular online tools used to create a mood board, but there are countless other tools you can use.

For more creative mood boards, photographers can also use Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and online graphic design tools such as Canva, to develop a mood board although it will take some time.

However, using these design tools provides a lot of ways to organize design elements and it also enables photographers to get more creative about the mood board. Photographers like you also download mobile applications to arrange collages of your images into a mood board.

Collaborate and Let Ideas Grow

Mood boards are also tools of communication. They help convey the ideas and encourage participation from clients, colleagues, and other members of the production team including makeup artists and stylists in the creative process.

By sharing the mood board and inviting people to collaborate, photographers come up with a broader set of ideas.

Digital mood boards are a lot easier to share with a team and it is best to share the mood board a few days prior to the actual photoshoot to allow more time for minor changes and for the team to get familiar with the concept.

Remember that mood boards are collections of inspirations, thus, the more relevant ideas, the better.

Ending thoughts on having a photography mood board

Mood boards are one of the photographer’s valuable resources. It is a great tool to use for collaboration between clients and the creative team during the pre-production stage. A photography mood board helps everyone understand and follow the visual direction of a photoshoot or project.

Remember, no one creates a perfect mood board right away. Creating a mood board involves a lot of changes and trial and error before achieving the final concept, especially when working with clients, and it is completely alright. This way, photographers are fully aware of what the clients really want and expect in the results.

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If you enjoyed reading this article on creating a photography mood board, you should also read this one about how to get your photography noticed.

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