Congrats you landed a client!!! You did great and am probably wondering how to do such an excellent job that it turns into a regular gig. Unless you have a creative brief from the client, if not a killer moodboard that would knock the socks off your client is the answer as it shows you know your stuff and am well prepared for the shoot. It’s a necessary evil despite requiring some time and effort on your end to put it together. If you work with small or clients that are new to photography, they may not know what’s a moodboard and why it’s necessary to have it. In fact, you may be asking whether you need to provide a moodboard to a client at all!

What is a Mood Board?

By definition, a moodboard is a combination of text, images, and objects brought together to illustrate a particular theme. It’s a detailed game plan that everybody is on board so that on shoot day, everything proceeds as planned. No doubt, there may be hiccups on shoot day itself but a moodboard helps you to avoid the potential pitfalls if you have thought about it and done your homework. It has all the important elements such as the story, reference images, lighting, equipment, props, to do list and much more. Being the visual artists that we are, having a moodboard helps us to bridge the connect between what we are envisioning in our head to what has been done already that could be close or even the same as what we hope to achieve for the client’s shoot. You could have multiple images with different aspects that you like and wish to combine them into a single image for your client. Fill it with tons of details, sketches of your composition and get your client to sign off on it so that you can avoid doing reshoots (especially key if you are doing a remote shoot!) or arguments about styling, sudden changes to shot list etc on shoot day.

Pro Tip: Get your client to send you reference images of the look and mood that they are looking for! This is a huge time saver for you!

The Client’s Role

If your client has not given you the finalized shot list, then the creation of a moodboard is definitely a prompt for them to think through their marketing plans. When they look through the moodboard that you have prepared for them, they know the amount of work and detail that has been put in, showing you as a professional with a plan for shoot day. This gives the client assurance that they can trust you to get the project done right. Get the client to decide on the various elements that are discussed in the moodboard. It could be the lighting down to the type of backgrounds, surfaces and even props that is needed for the shoot. If you are working with a restaurant, a moodboard is a great way for the chef to provide input on the suggested order of the dishes to be cooked for the shoot. It’s a handy tool to bring along when meeting with the chef /& client at the restaurant prior to shoot day.

Do I charge for it?

Putting out a separate line item for the creation of a moodboard would make smaller clients baulk so one way is to roll it into your creative fee/day rates. It could also be a way for smaller clients to choose your competitors as they may view that the cost of a moodboard is unnecessary for their business. However if presented differently, this is a value add that you provide as compared to your fellow photographers. You may be thinking of the extra hours needed to complete a moodboard but the truth is once you have created a template, it doesn’t take much time putting in the details and images before sending it to the client.

Pro Tip: Save images that you like into various categories such as Bright and Airy, Dark and Moody so that you can easily use them rather than searching each and every time you need to complete a client’s moodboard.

Whether you create your moodboard in Canva, Google Slides etc, collaborate with your client by sharing the moodboard so that they can comment and edit directly before signing it off. Put your questions as notes or comments in the relevant slides so that your client can revert directly. As a bonus, sign up to my mailing list below and grab my top 5 tips for a killer moodboard! You will be sure to impress your clients and make yourself as their go to photographer from now on!