The Fashion Photographer's Guide to Mood Boards: Save Yourself a Headache

Many beginning photographers find it very difficult to translate their vision verbally. In order to save yourself time, effort, and frustration the day of your shoot, use a mood board. Mood boards are visual collages of inspiration designed to provide your team or client with a visual reference guide that everyone can agree on before your photo shoot.

You will want to limit the amount of imagery on your mood board to approximately one page, or about 6–10 strong images with a consistent theme or idea. This will make it easier for your team or client to decipher the direction of the shoot. I divide my mood boards into individual categories to make it easier for my team to understand. These categories include: hair, makeup, model, location (if applicable), lighting/Photoshop (if applicable), wardrobe, theme, etc. This makes it easier for my team to decipher exactly what I have in mind.

They may sound like a lot of extra work, but mood boards are actually extremely simple to implement into your photography workflow.

Alternatively, instead of manually saving images as you’re scouring the internet for inspirational imagery, use Pinterest. Pinterest is a really simple platform for saving your inspiration in public or private galleries. There are even plugins for your browser to allow you to “right-click” and save photos to Pinterest. Don’t waste valuable space on your hard drive. 

Link to free mood board templates: HERE

Jeff Rojas's picture

Jeff Rojas is an American photographer, author and educator based in New York City. His primary body of work includes portrait and fashion photography that has been published in both Elle and Esquire. Jeff also frequents as a photography instructor. His teaching experience includes platforms like CreativeLive, WPPI, the Photo Plus Expo, and APA.

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Mood boards are great for concreting your ideas. Also good for pitching to models/MUA/hair people, even if you're not as good as to be able to replicate the stuff on your board haha. Gets them energized and in the mood to say 'yes.' Might be good advice to add to that TFP article from a couple days ago...

You're absolutely right. :)

Awesome advice Jeff! Now to get my team together :) Thank you for the free template as well!

Thanks Pho! I may put a video up soon on how I built my team. I know that everyone has a different take on that... but I think it's still valuable to see different perspectives. :)

I would love that! :)

Thanks so much Aditya! :D

I remember the first time an agency asked for a mood board...was like...what the heck's that? Now I can't live without Pintrest and all my mood boards, hehe.

Isn't it surprising how many working professionals have never used a mood board? lol

They make life SO MUCH EASIER. :P

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