What Is A Photography Moodboard? And How To Create One

I remember hearing about a photography moodboard for the first time; I couldn’t really tell what the heck it was and if I as a photographer should also be creating them?

Not every photographer makes one when planning a photoshoot, but I’m going to share here how I’ve done moodboards for clients in my photoshoots.

In summary, a moodboard is a collage where you add all the necessary visual and why not even written information regarding a photoshoot. This is to for you to be sure you’re on the same page with the rest of the creatives when planning a photo shoot.

What is a photography moodboard and how can you build one? Moodboard is a great way to communicate the direction and concept of your photoshoot [Full Guide]

What Is A Moodboard?

A mood board is a collection of images gathered into one place. They’re extensively used in the photography field to help define the visual direction of a project.

The best and most common way to help everyone understand your visual aesthetic is to create a moodboard.

In a larger production, a mood board can be created as a physical board, filled with printed images.

While collaborating with a group of people on the same project, you do need to make sure everyone is on the same page with the aesthetics and other relevant details.

Although, mood boards can also be virtual as some of them are nowadays. The photographer sends their mood board to the other people involved to get feedback on the direction of the collaboration.

I find mood boards highly effective for my personal projects too; with too many elements like location, costumes and other props, it’s easier to execute them with a clear visual plan.

What is a photography moodboard and how can you build one? Moodboard is a great way to communicate the direction and concept of your photoshoot [Full Guide]

Here’s a quick example of a mood board I made a long time ago when I was planning a shoot with a model who was also a friend of mine. Super simple and easy to execute.

The mood board might be aesthetically pleasing, but mostly, it just needs to have the necessary information for the shoot.

Don’t stress about your designing skills is not something to focus on, just make sure you cover the points below.

The first mood board can me made as an unfinished version, where you’ll eventually add everything you need.

They will most likely have to be adjusted a couple of times, so putting too much time into them is shouldn’t be a priority.

You can make mood boards as PDFs with programs like Indesign*, but as a starter, you can also use platforms like Pinterest. Latest and the easiest to use is definitely to use Canva*.

Advantages of using a moodboard

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 moodboard 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

What to put in a photography moodboard ?

A mood board is not to copy anyone’s work or final images. As a photographer, I want to be on the same level with everyone in the production and make sure we agree with the colors and materials used in the shoot.

In any case, adding roughly 8-15 images to a mood board is considered enough to communicate your visuals.

When looking for mood board images, make sure you cover following:

  • Lighting
  • Textures (if you’re using fabric, but also the backdrop textures)
  • Location
  • Style / Mood (the atmosphere you’re trying to convey)

Sometimes if you are given free hands to plan the whole concept, you might want to send them more than one mood board – to give more variety to choose from and to show them you’ve put the effort in the planning stage already.

But consider sharing the task with someone in your team; creating a whole photoshoot from start to finish is not usually the photographers work, unless the production is smaller.

In large productions the mood boards also cover the stages of the video or photos; they make a clear palette of clothing the models are going to wear and in which order to clarify the schedule and the overall photoshoot.

You should always ask your client if they have something specific in mind – sometimes you’ll get a good feel out of reference images they send you and can build your whole mood board around them.

This is the single best way to know what you’re going to be making for the client. Planning the photoshoots is an essential part of the photo process. You will be more confident in the upcoming shoot and can further plan your photoshoot with composition and lighting.

You can also check how to build a portfolio before you book with clients.

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