A product photography mood board can be a photographer’s north star, guiding you through a myriad of choices and decisions you have to make.

For product photography, where conveying the essence of a product is the goal, mood boards are invaluable.

They provide a roadmap of the intended visual direction, ensuring both client and photographer are aligned in their vision.

This article will explain the art of crafting a photography mood board, infusing insights from industry giants and drawing parallels from top-ranking articles.

product photography based on a mood board means less chance of reshoots.


Why is a Product Photography Mood Board Essential?


Before diving deep, understanding the significance of a mood board is important.

A mood board:


Acts as a Visual Proposal:

It communicates the desired outcome and sets the tone for the photoshoot.


Ensures Alignment:

It ensures both client and photographer share a mutual understanding.


Informs Decisions:

From equipment to camera settings, mood boards can shape so many choices.


Serves as an Inspiration Cache:

A mood board can be the source of ideas, colors, props, and backgrounds.


Facilitates Unique Creations:

By merging elements from different sources, it can guide the creation of distinctive images.


It Involves The Client:

From the start, the client feels more a part of the photoshoot. As a result, they will be happier with the final images.



Product Photography Mood Board Examples


From minimalistic white backgrounds to bustling lifestyle shots, mood boards can span a spectrum.

Example ideas include:

A sleek tech product showcased against a futuristic backdrop.

A clothing item captured in a rustic, outdoor setting.

A food product styled exquisitely with complementary props.

Below are two examples of mood boards from my work with Miribel Naturals. I have blurred the images because they were gathered from different sources as inspiration. You will still be able to see the basic layout of the boards.


photography mood board
photography mood board example


Are Mood Boards Legal?


Mood boards often make use of images that are not your own. Is that legal? Or are you breaking copyright laws?

If an image isn’t in the public domain, (being on the Internet is not public domain!) you can’t use it according to copyright laws.

However, if the mood board is private, labeled as a mood board and you aren’t sharing it publicly – it as intended as inspiration and not a copyright violation.

Please note, that is why I blurred the images above. I don’t own the copyright to those images and won’t share them publicly.


How Do You Make a Mood Board for Photography?


Creating an effective mood board is both an art and science. Here’s a structured approach:

1. Set the Direction: Understand the primary aim. Is it to define the final images or capture the essence of the shoot?

2. Gather Existing Materials: Incorporate existing brand materials like logos or previous photoshoot images.

3. Incorporate Inspiring Imagery: Shape the mood with relevant images defining aspects like tone, lighting, and color.

4. Integrate Motion & Sound: In our digital age, you can elevate your board with GIFs, videos, or even sounds.

5. Embed Color Swatches: Use tools like Adobe Kuler to select colors complementing the brand.

6. Organize Your Ideas: Transition from a messy collection to an organized board, emphasizing hierarchy.

7. Stay Open to Inspiration: As renowned creative director Grace Coddington said, “Always keep your eyes open.”

8. Articulate Your Thoughts: If shared with clients or teams, explain your choices and ideas.

9. Collaborate and Evolve: Use digital tools to collaborate in real-time.

10. Seek Feedback: Constructive criticism can be invaluable.


Premium Product Photography Services In Bethesda, Maryland
Images by A Frederick Maryland area Product Photographer


What Should Be Included in a Photography Mood Board?


While mood boards can be diverse, they generally encompass:

Visual Imagery: Central to the mood board, these set the tone.

Color Palette: Colors that resonate with the brand and the envisaged mood.

Typography: If any text elements are to be included.

Texture and Patterns: These can provide depth to the visual narrative.

Annotations: Brief notes explaining certain choices.


The Four Pillars of an Effective Mood Board


A potent mood board rests on four pillars:

Relevance: Every element should align with the intended direction.

Diversity: While cohesion is key, incorporating varied inspirations can spark creativity.

Clarity: It should lucidly convey the intended message.

Flexibility: While it provides direction, it shouldn’t stifle creativity.


reliable product photographers produce content on schedule and budget.
Photography mood boards help set the tone and provide inspiration for the photoshoot.


What is the Difference Between a Mood Board and an Inspiration Board?


That is a great question!

Mood Boards provide a concept, evoking a feeling or emotion. They don’t need to be specific and may or may not even be photos of products.

Inspiration Boards provide the details, the colors, different textures and specifics about your planned photoshoot.

In all honesty, my mood boards are a mixture of both.


What is the Difference Between a Mood Board and a Style Frame?


A style frame is where you actually start laying out the elements of an image. You show where things will go, basically styling the product photo on a page or screen before going to shoot the product.


How Much do you Charge for a Mood Board?


A designer or artist would generally charge between $50 – $200 an hour to create a mood board.

As a photographer, you could either charge or provide it as a service that is wrapped into your total fee.

Personally, I provide mood boards as part of my service. A good mood board will set the tone of the product photoshoot and help eliminate the need for reshoots – which saves you time and effort.

How to Find Pictures for a Mood Board


Images for inspiration are everywhere. When looking for pictures for your mood board, check:

• Your computer



Google Images





and the options can go on and on!  In fact, if you have a favorite place to search for images, let me know!


How Many Pictures Should a Mood Board Have?


Most mood boards have between 5 – 15 images according to ExpertPhotography.com

While you don’t want to overwhelm the client, you want enough to create the emotion and show the intended style of their product photoshoot.


Maryland commercial photography

What Size Is A Mood Board?


According to template.net, a good size for a mood board is 750 x 750 pixels – or 900 x 700 pixels.

Personally, I think that may be due to the fact the templates they sell are that size.

With the ease of digital delivery today, I feel the proper size for a mood board is the one you want.

It could be 1080 x 1920 pixels – to fit on most phone screens.

You could create it in 1080 x 1080 or 1080 x 1350 pixels similar to an Instagram post.

I deliver my mood boards as a PDF – and since I am in the US, I make them 8.5 x 11 to fit a printed page.

Most clients won’t print them, but I’d like them to have that option if they want it.


When Should I Create a Mood Board?


Mood boards take some time, hunting for images and assembling them into a form the client will understand.

Since time is money, I never create a mood board before receiving a deposit on the photoshoot.

The moment they book is the moment I begin my work.


Should I Use a Mood Board for a Proposal?


While a mood board or a concept board can be a part of a proposal, it can also be unnecesscary work.

You need to ask yourself if you do the work and the prospect decides not to hire you, was that a good use of your time.


How I Create A Mood Board


Since I love Photoshop, I prefer to use the software to create my mood boards. And yes, I mean boards.

I have a subscription to Envato Elements, which I use for graphics, video and a lot of the blog header images my schedule doesn’t allow me time to shoot myself.

As I download a  mood board template from the site, I  license it (included in membership) to create my board.

In Photoshop it is easy to add the collected images and color samples into the place holders. I also usually include the client’s logo on each board.

Depending on the size of the photoshoot, I will create 2 to 4 mood boards and save them as JPGs.

The JPGs are then opened in Preview (I am on a Mac) and I combine them into one document, which is saved as a PDF.

Are there easier ways? Probably, but I found this works for me and it may work for you too.

beverage photography
product photography for online businesses


Are There Different Ways to Create a Mood Board?


Of course there are!

You can use a variety of different software to make a mood board.

Adobe Express has a free mood board creator with a free template.

Fotor.com – tons of free photos, vector images, stickers, fonts and colors.

GoMoodboard.com – Another free mood board creator.

Miro.com – A free and flexible mood board creator for creatives.


Can I Make a Mood Board in Canva or Milanote?


Absolutely! Platforms like Canva or Milanote are designed to facilitate mood board creation.

With drag-and-drop interfaces and vast libraries, they’re perfect for the job.

For instance, Milanote offers a step-by-step guide, allowing you to embed everything from images to videos.

Similarly, Canva provides templates to kickstart your process.


A Simple Tip for Client Mood Boards


You may consider this cheating, but it definitely makes my job easier and I thought I would share it here.

During the booking process, my clients get an onboarding question for links or a pinterest board showing images they like and want to emulate (not copy.)

As I create my client’s product photography mood board, I will incorporate most of the images they shared with me.

Isn’t that cheating? No. I already understand they want that vibe and look, so I use it as a base and build upon it.

That can save you a ton of time looking for images clients may or may not like.


Steering a Path to Success


A mood board is not just a collage; it’s a compass.

It guides the product photography process, ensuring the destination is both envisioned and reached.

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a brand aiming for the stars, a mood board can be your guiding light.

Remember, in the world of product photography, it’s not just about capturing a product, but encapsulating its soul.


Discover How Professional Photography Can Elevate Your Brand

Get a Custom Quote Tailored to Your Specific Needs

Hand clicking on a'Submit' button for a free consultation on commercial photography

Take a minute to fill out the form below. Doing so will help me understand your product photography needs. Once I receive your information, I'll reach out to you personally to discuss the project in more detail and create a customized quote for you.

You may also text me at: 410-596-4127 or E-mail me at: tom@tomcrowl.com