How To Make a Mood Board

I use mood boards for almost every shoot I do, especially for high production shoots with large crews. There have been many times recently where I receive an inquiry and when I respond with “Please send me a moodboard” I get nothing…and when I talk to younger and new photographers and creatives, they don’t know what a moodboard is.

So what is it?! A mood board is a stylized group of images with wardrobe, hair, makeup and posing ideas. It gives the overall mood and style for a shoot, essentially setting the stage for the shoot so everyone is on the same page.

How do I make one?

Step 1: Bust out your laptop and search through Pinterest or Google for ideas, concepts and images that fit the crew you’ll be working with. More pictures are better to start out with, you can always narrow them down later, or save the images for another shoot.

Step 2: Save them into various folders for posing, makeup, hair, styling and which look. For example, if you’re shooting three looks each look should be clearly labeled in a folder with subfolders of posing, styling, makeup and hair. When you are building your mood board, you can easily find what you’re looking for.

Step 3: Open Photoshop or InDesign to create a clean layout. You can easily add text boxes and images and lay them out for each look. Make your layout clean and easy to follow with each portion of the look clearly labeled.

I don’t have Photoshop or InDesign…how can I still make one that’s easier?: A lot of people are now using Pinterest to make boards and email the link to everyone, allowing them to add photos and ideas (if it is a collaborative shoot). As long as you have a cohesive theme to your page, you’ll be fine.

Tips and tricks for moodboards:

  •         Make sure to also include hair and makeup, that way everyone will be able to manage their time; for example, you may need more time for makeup than hair so you want to properly manage your time around that.
  •         If you’re shooting a few different styles, make sure to clearly label each style so it is easier to distinguish what look to start and finish with.
  •         Search through Pinterest for ideas and ask all collaborators for sample images if they have them, then incorporate them into your moodboard.
  •         Don’t be afraid to shoot to the moon on moodboards. Include photos from vogue, even if it’s not a shoot for Vogue. When you put inspirational images on the moodboard, you’ll get the whole crew excited (just keep it cohesive). 

Benefits to a moodboard:

  •         You look more professional so people will want to work with you again because you made it easier on everyone.
  •         The shoot will have a clear vision and direction. When your shoot has a clear direction you can focus on making sure the shoot goes smoothly and everyone is on the same page, leading to (hopefully) less questions on set.

So it’s as easy as that! Comment below if you have any other mood board tips + tricks to add!

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