A mood wall or board is a collage consisting of images, text, and objects built around upon set topic. A mood board can be used to give a general idea of a specific topic and may be physical or digital.
I was having breakfast with a couple of photographers when one of them, an accomplished glamour photographer, said something about the ideas he gets from his mood wall. “What’s a mood wall?” I ask and he gives me an answer similar to the above. When I mentioned this idea to my wife, she told me that almost all of her clients—architects and designers—have mood walls where they post clippings and photos of concepts that intrigue them and are used to inspire them to try something new. Well, photographers need the same kind of inspiration from time to time, so I decided to make a mood wall.
What I really wanted to make was a literal wall in my home studio where I could post 4×6 prints but that concept awaits completion. Right now, I’m happily collecting images in a “Mood Wall” folder that’s periodically reviewed and updated (to eliminate those “what was I thinking images”) and downloaded to my iPad. In the meantime, the images I’ve collected on the Internet are used for two purposes:
- The first was showing backgrounds/sets/locations I could use or create to get out of a rut of using the same backdrops I’ve used for many years. For a look at my take on backgrounds check out my post “Working with Props and backgrounds.”
- The second was as a posing guide, especially when working with new models who may not have refined their posing skills. I want them to use a pose from the mood wall as a way to create something more personal and unique. For my take on model posing skills, please check out my post “Working with Different Kinds of Portrait Subjects.”)
And lest you think this is all about copying another photographer’s work, I disagree. What I’ve noticed in all of the workshops I’ve taught is that attendees using the same cameras and lenses are never going to create the exact same images, even when shooting side–by-side. As I said, the images on the mood wall are designed to inspire you and provide a jumping off point for your interpretation of an idea. Give a mood wall a try, you’ll be glad you did.
If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from Amazon.com, with used copies (as I write this) selling for less than $11.