What's your creative process when planning for an upcoming shoot? Have you found any particular method to be helpful in solidifying a final concept? One great way to sculpt a vision for any creative project, including photo-shoots, is to create a mood board. When working on a new project, one my favorite places to start is with a mood board. It's one of the best way's I've found to organize my thoughts. Because creativity is a process and it does not have perfect rules or boundaries, many times our projects start from a place of endless or seemingly random inspiration. How will you know what to keep and what to cut? When will you find out if the risk of combining elements that are polar opposites will in fact reward you with the most unique and perfect harmony?
Enter - The Mood Board. You need a gathering place to collect all of your inspiration and mix and edit until you've formed one refined theme. Then you can move forward with the execution knowing that your concept is rock solid. Digital or Physical? Although the cork board style physical mood boards are fun to create for a personal project or even for the long-term planning of an idea, digital mood boards offer the added benefit of being quick to make. This can pay off big time when brainstorming for a photo-shoot. This is something you can use solely for your own development of an idea, or it can be a great communication tool to share your vision with a client.Â Show them rather than tell them. When creating a mood board you can use color, patterns, photography, graphics, etc. to help you evoke an emotion. Don't worry about making your selections too literal or combining things that necessarily "make sense", simply include elements that together create the overall look and feel you are going for. An image you took of a favorite travel location can fit nicely right alongside a cropped image of a past client's outfit, or pattern you used on your last baby announcement may inspire a color palette for an senior session. An image you shot of an old clock on your last wedding shoot may be the starting place for a Mad Hatter-themed engagement session. Whatever the inspiration pieces, collect and mix and match until right before your eyes, your concept comes to life.
A Breakdown of the Elements in a Digital Mood Board:
Pick a palette and use elements in your mood board that fit the hues. Include large and small swatches of color to balance out the collection.
Pick out patterns that match your theme - whimsical, simplistic, traditional, modern, etc. If these are patterns you've purchased for use in your design projects, change the colors to match your palette. You may wish to see these patterns show up in the final execution as part of a client's outfit or in other textiles or props.
As a photographer, you are lucky to have your own personal stash of images from past sessions and personal work.Â Gather images of a favorite location you visited on your last summer vacation. Zoom into one element from a shoot, say, the palm beach style hedge in the background or the oh so sweet selection of perfectly pastel gelato. Grab an image you took where the light was just right. Crop into the outfit of a recent client that wore the perfect pair of wedges and grab a sampling of her fabulous necklace.
Very often graphics can evoke an emotion in their shape and layout. Even signage or typography can become a graphic, so feel free to throw some in if you like. Here I've created two mood boards to demonstrate two different concepts I have for two different shoots. To create these mood boards, I used two of the templates from Design Aglow's "Pin Me" Blog and Print Boards. These blog boards have been created to allow your blog imagery to be easily pin-able while making sure your work is always credited your name and website. I think they are also a great time-saver for making digital mood boards! This first mood board is a concept for a senior portrait session. I'm calling this, "Splendid Summer". I was inspired by the bright and happy colors of the summer season, sun-drenched light, old-fashioned treats, bike-rides and time spent outdoors.
Here I've also included the name of the concept, "Splendid Summer" on the mood board. You may choose to do this more for your clients to have a name to go by especially if you are sending them multiple mood boards to choose from. (And of course, take care to choose a font that doesn't hinder the look you've created.)Design Aglow products used to create "Splendid Summer": Pin Me Blog Boards, Pattern Collection: Bold & Graphic and Pattern Collection: Express Yourself. The second mood board is a concept for an engagement session. I've named this one, "Urban Garden". I was inspired by the grittiness of the old industrial buildings looking much like patchwork quilts in the midst of city life, hardy but beautiful plants like succulents that can survive in the roughest conditions, and a casual walk through the areas less traveled.
*Special thanks to Tinywater Photography for the lovely sample images.