Where the Mood Board Falls Short


While mood boards serve as helpful tools for better understanding a client’s vision, they don’t always get to the root of their vision, and mood boards can sometimes be misleading.

Usually, when discussing a mood board with a client, we ask a number of questions to determine why they chose the photos featured on their mood board. We try to find out if they like the poses, the style, and tone (light and airy vs. dramatic, editorial), and whether they’re interested more in epic couples portraits or candid family interactions, etc.

One way to more quickly and accurately get clients to focus on their vision is to ask the following question:

  • Which image(s) would you spend thousands of dollars on to frame and hang in your home?

Out of the potentially hundreds of images the client pinned to the mood board, it’s likely that very few would be worth spending thousands of dollars on. This is the point of the vision exercise.

Vision Exercise

Run through the vision exercise prior to each shoot with your clients. Tell your client the following:

  • “I have an important exercise I want to walk you through.”
  • “Imagine your home.”
  • “Image one place in your home where you might hang a piece of artwork.”
  • “What are you thinking of?”

Ask your clients to describe their answers in more detail if necessary so that it’s clear that their vision is focused and accurate. Here’s an example of how to do that after asking to describe where the art would go in the home:

“Great. That space is maybe 60”/5 ft. in length, correct?”

When you’ve determined the size of the space, explore their options.

  • “I have a question. First, you need to know a few things.”
    • “You can only choose one image.
    • A piece for that space would cost roughly $3K+ (depending on the size of the space)
    • You will see/enjoy that image every day.”

Now you can ask what image they would choose, knowing the cost and limitations.

  • “What single image would you invest in from your (photo experience) for that space?”

Ask them to visualize the location and the action taking place within the image, as well as whether it’s up close and candid or a far-away epic shot.