A key part of my creative process on any shoot is making a mood board. It can be hard to communicate conceptual ideas to clients, so using a mood board is a great way to give a visual reality to your ideas that makes them easier to communicate to your client. Here are a few reasons why mood boards are so helpful:
- They allow you to get on the same page as your client in terms of brand aesthetic. This is a way to communicate that you understand the colors, lighting, and overall personality that they want to communicate.
- Mood boards help you to begin planning materials and props that you’ll want for your shoot. I once made a moodboard for a Mexican restaurant that inspired me to hunt down some palm leaves to bring to the shoot, which the client loved.
- They give you a reference point to look back at while you’re shooting to make sure that you’re in line with the brand aesthetic.
A word of caution: It’s important to explain to the client that the mood board is a general idea, and not an exact look at what the images will be like. I like to include some more abstract visuals in my mood boards to help communicate this. Most clients have a marketing background and will understand the purpose of the mood board, but I always make sure to make note of it.
It’s also important to note that sometimes a mood board will be provided by the client, depending on the structure of their business and the role you play in the project.
The Steps in Making a Mood Board
Mood boards are one of my favorite parts of the project because they are a great chance to explore new creative ideas. Here are the steps I take each time I make a board for a project.
- Explore all client materials and observe colors and themes. The client website and social media accounts are a great place to start for understanding their current aesthetic.
- Collect images that are relevant to the brand and the project. I like to find a mix of textures and more abstract images, along with more specific images to tie into the example. For a restaurant client I’ll also find samples of lifestyle and interior shots to help the mood board tell a full story. Pinterest, magazines, or even pictures from your own library can be great sources for images.
- Make notes about your images and why you’re including them. These are helpful to refer back to when presenting the board to the client.
- Arrange everything on a board for presentation. I often use Illustrator for this, but you can also use a tool such as Invision, or make a slide deck.
- Add your logo! This is your intellectual property and it’s important that your name and branding appear on it.
Storing Mood Boards
I keep all of my client mood boards labeled and stored on my hard drive. You may find them helpful to refer back to on future client projects!