Five Reasons You Should Have Clients Create a Mood Board | Transcription

Let’s start from the top with what the heck is a mood board? This is something that we actually learn from the commercial side of things. Several years ago, we did a commercial gig and the agency asked us to create a mood board. We were like, “Hey, what’s a mood board?” Actually, we didn’t say that. We then got on the internet and looked up what the mood board was because hey, we don’t want to look like dummies. Google knows we’re dummies, not the agency. That’s okay. All right, so a mood board is basically a visual representation of kind of the overall mood, and emotion, and feeling, that you want a shoot to have. Why do we want our clients to create mood boards? By the way, to create these mood boards we are using Pinterest. It’s a very good way. It’s a very great application and also provides some other benefits which we’re going to talk about as well.

A Means of Visual Communication

Number one is it’s a means of visual communication. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Gosh, dang it, what client has time to write you a thousand words about what they like about your style? In fact if you’re to ask the client what they like about your style, it’s going to be very difficult for them to describe it. How would they know? How would they know the right words to use? They might say, “I like the color.” They might say, “Well, I like this picture.” They’re not going to know to say, “Oh, I love this one because the pose and the emotion captured in their faces really brings out this.” “Oh, I love this one because it uses off camera flash.” “Oh, I love this one because of that light and airy post production feel that you’ve given this.” They’re not going to know how to convey their vision in terms of words. We don’t even want them to try.

We want to create the mood board so that we can have a visual means of communicating their vision. Now, this is the thing. Before you’re creating these mood boards, it was always kind of like a shot in the dark. When they’re just describing what the … I think it’s a describing. That’s all right. That’s a word for me. Describing what they wanted. It was kind of like just shooting in the dark. Then when we started creating mood boards, it was quite a bit better. We had a visual means of communication but there is one piece that was missing in that puzzle. That is for every image that a client pins to their mood board, we want them to write one simple phrase as to what they like about the image.

They could say, “I like the colors. I like the pose. I like the emotion. I like the background. I like their clothes.” Whatever it was, because what we realized was that people were actually pinning images and what I would look at the image and I’d say, “Oh, I love that shot that you pinned.” That’s beautiful like HDR shot that shows the entire dynamic range of the scene. It’s this wide angle shot. Then you go and you do that and, and you find out later that they actually just like the pose, or they actually just kind of like the location. Again, have them write one specific thing about each image that they’re pinning. We’re going to talk about the overall process of creating a mood board in just a moment.

Tailor Unrealistic Expectations

Number 2, the second reason that you should have clients create a mood board is because it will help you to tailor unrealistic expectations. Now, what that means is that the mood board is often the first place that you’re going to start to identify what their expectations are in terms of what they’re expecting from the shoot. Let’s say that they’ve booked a 2-hour photo session with you. Yet, they have pictures that are done mid-day, they have sunset images, and they also have nighttime images. That clearly would not fit into a 2-hour window. What if they pinned images from a desert scene and they’ve also pinned images from a downtown scene, and those 2 scenes are about 4 hours apart? Again, we have to pick one or the other.

These are common kind of unrealistic expectations that we might see from the mood board and we’re not going to tell them that they’re unrealistic expectations. What we’re going to do is we’re going to say, “Hey, I noticed that you had a bunch of images from the desert and also from downtown Los Angeles. We probably won’t have enough time to shoot both during a 3-hour engagement session, which one would you like to focus on?” Another thing you would say is, “If we are shooting the desert location, it takes 2 hours to drive out there. We do need to charge a little bit extra for the travel time.” Give them options and tailor expectations without negatively discussing or negatively saying things like, “No, we can’t do that”, or “You can’t do this and that location all in one day”, and so forth. Positively communicate and give solutions rather than negative shut downs.

Address Potential Concerns

All right, number 3 is address potential concerns. Obviously, again the mood board is often a place that we’re going to be able to identify and address these potential concerns. One of them that often will come up is when we have a client create a mood board, we generally tell them that we’d like them to create the mood board based on the majority of our images; okay, so like 80-20. I don’t mind somebody pinning a few other photographer’s images to the mood board, because hey, it helps to kind of push our style and creativity. If a client pins another photographer’s images and those photographer’s images are vastly different from your style, this is immediately a potential concern that needs to be addressed.

Setup to Exceed Expectations

Now, resolving that concern doesn’t necessarily mean that you turn away the client. Resolving that concern can simply mean that you address the concern and make sure that you are prepared to shoot in that style. If you’re not, then perhaps you would tailor and say, “Hey, you know what? If we don’t like this style then what can we do? How can we kind of figure out a way that we can create those kind of images?” If it comes down to it, you are better off turning away a client that has hired you incorrectly to create someone else’s style that you feel uncomfortable to do, than you are to go ahead and do that style you have poor job of it. Then have a client, those expectations were not met. This mood board sets us up to exceed expectations because once we’ve tailored the expectations, we have nipped potential concerns in the bud, then we are … I said bud this time, not the butt. I said butt, I know.

Free Marketing

The fifth reason you should have clients create mood boards isn’t really relating to creating the product. It’s actually just a side benefit. That is free marketing. When you’re having clients go and pin your images off your blog, and if go to our blog you’ll notice that all of our images when you mouse over you can pin them very easily. When they’re pinning them, it’s constantly throwing them up on the social media. Of course by doing so and by them saying one thing that they like about the photo, it’s a great thing because they’re just basically sharing your images; more of your images are going to be seen by more people. This is an easy way to get free marketing from clients.

Those are the 5 reasons why you should have your clients create a mood board. Let me give you a sixth reason. At the time of recording this, when I created this slide, I didn’t have that sixth reason until just about 2 weeks ago. I’ll add it in, don’t worry. The sixth reason for having clients create a mood board, is most of the time on shoots when I am shooting and I’m in the zone. I’m showing my clients the images, their reactions are, “Wow, that’s amazing! I love it.” You know and so forth. It’s very easy to read that we are on the right page. We’re creating the images that they want to see because we’re communicating and we’re understanding. Every now and then, you’re going to have a client, and I had a client that was like this. That reminded me exactly why we have the mood board to begin with.

My client was very essentially understated. Most clients are very kind of emphatic. “Oh, I love that. That’s so great. That’s fantastic.” This one was very understated. I have quite a few clients in the past that have been that way. They just simply don’t get excited about the images, kind of in the same way that you might get excited about them. They’ll say things like, “Oh yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, yeah, I like that. That’s okay. Yeah, cool.” You’ll go through the shoot wondering do they truly love the images that we’re creating, or are they kind of just paying us lip service? What is it because you can’t get a solid read on them? In that kind of a situation when socially you’re not getting a good read on their feelings and emotion towards the images you’re creating, that’s when I go, “My goodness, I’m glad I have them create a mood board”, because that’s when I simply pull up the mood board. I go, “You know what? We’re just going to make sure that we shoot for the mood board.” We’re going to create the images off their mood board because at the end of the day, this is what’s going to save your butt.

If you’re creating images that fit what they have pinned and what they have said that they liked, and you walk away from that shoot having done nothing but accomplished what they have on their mood board, then you have had a successful shoot. You’re not depending on the client to basically help you understand whether or not, they are actually appreciating the photos. I had that and basically 2 weeks ago, I was like, “You know what? I can’t get a read on if they’re liking the photos. You know what? We’ll just do what we always do. We’re going to shoot the mood board.” We shot the mood board and afterwards, she wrote me. She’s like … This is what was funny. It was like she wrote me and said, “I can’t wait to see the pictures.” I sent over like a teaser set. She wrote me back and she said, “Oh, yeah. These are nice. Thank you so much.”

Now for her and for her fiance, this was equivalent to, “These are amazing! I love these photos. They’re so awesome!” Because she is such an understated person. I would have been absolutely terrified to not have the mood board and just sit there guessing the entire time in it. It’s a perfect situation to set yourself up, to not meet their expectations and to not deliver the type of images that they want, simply because they’re having a hard time or they don’t have an easy time with communicating what exactly they need. That’s 6 reasons to have clients create a mood board.


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