How to Elevate Your Photography Mood Board to the Next Level

How to Elevate Your Photography Mood Board to the Next Level - Mastin Labs

Have you ever had an amazing idea for a photoshoot, shared your inspirational images with your client or collaborators, and started shooting only to realize that everyone was on a slightly different page? 

Photography is a visual art, but sometimes conveying the vision in your head can be hard to explain with words and a handful of photos alone. When this happens, I’ve found the most effective way to communicate is by creating a comprehensive mood board. 

That might seem pretty obvious, I’ll admit, but there are so many different ways that we can share an idea that can be elevated by adding a few extra elements outside of words and photos alone. I’ll share my process for creating more comprehensive mood boards to see if you might find something that sparks a little inspiration for you. 

Step 1: Find Your Mood Board System

There are so many approaches and systems to mood boarding. I even remember making a physical board with paper clippings and glue! Nowadays, you’re looking for somewhere you can add together pictures, words, videos, links, and other multimedia elements. This could be as simple as a Google Doc, a Pinterest board, or more sophisticated like using a software application such as Milanote or Miro. Don’t overthink or overspend: I know plenty of people who can make a free Google Doc look like something out of a magazine. 

Step 2: Source Your Elements

Here’s where things start to get a little more fun. Visualize your concept: is it a dark and moody portrait session inspired by a fantasy novel? Or maybe a soft and dreamy studio session using lots of flowers?

The obvious place to start is sourcing images that inspire you and tell the story of what you’re trying to achieve. That’s important, but we can keep going.

On a practical level, you might ask yourself: What’s the location? What are the props I need? Do I need to source any clothing or items? What colors do I want to focus on? Textures?

I’ve found that adding a color palette to my mood boards helps bring focus to the important tones I want to look for. I will often include photos of clothing pieces I’m hoping to use and sometimes a map or Google Maps screenshot of a particular location. 

 If you’re a conceptual artist or someone wanting to go even deeper, you might ask yourself a few more questions to further explain your idea. What is the mood? Is there a character or story you want to capture? Is there a feeling you’re aiming for? 

I’ve included movie quotes and music playlists that inspire me and have the right tone for what I’m visualizing. Videos and even still images from a movie or TV show might help set the scene for your collaborators.  

Step 3: If You Can, Collaborate

I always prefer to be over-prepared than under. If you’re working with a team or even just one other person, sharing your mood board and getting their creative input can be the best way to iron out any questions beforehand. 

In most software, you can have someone add notes and ask questions within the space itself, which keeps all the pieces in one place. 

For me, my goal with a mood board is to put small pieces together to communicate a larger idea. It’s also a great way to collaborate and manage all the small pieces that can be important in planning.

Not every photoshoot requires a mood board, but every mood board I’ve made has helped that photoshoot!