Putting Together A Photoshoot Part I: Moodboard And Concept Development

We probably start out the same way when we first start any effort, creative or not. Your head is full of ideas, but you clearly lack understanding and experience on how to achieve them. Over time, through other people’s benevolence and hours of YouTube tutorials, our abilities catch up and we reach a place where creativity and experience meet.At this point, with almost minimal effort, suddenly you can realize your vision.

It may seem like minimal effort, but minimal effort is not the only secret to a successful shoot. Whether it’s fashion, lifestyle, weddings, or engagements, everything that goes into a successful shoot requires a huge amount of planning and communication between his members of the team. Communication and planning are key to everything, even if it’s just photographers and models.

When I first started shooting, I was under the impression that the pros just called, picked a concept, assembled a team, grabbed some lights, and did it. By the way, I spent a good part of my early career believing this to be true – and my shoots were very much reflecting this – a half-hearted concept, a day or so together. Get thrown and stand in front of the camera with whoever is willing (and available).

Thankfully for myself and the members of the team I work with now, the days of “throwing everything together” are long gone. I still want to put together a last-minute shoot every now and then, but learning how to properly plan every shoot helped me set up a last-minute shoot and still meet my overall photography goals.

This multi-part series presents the complete lifestyle shots. From brainstorming and concept development, to scouting locations, to contacting and communicating with his team members and agencies. This first section will focus on where to find inspiration, how to put together a mood/concept board, and how to communicate that inspiration to his team members.

Like anything else, developing a concept can be personal, and asking around will surely give you many different reasons to use them. It’s a very important vehicle, it puts all the parties on the same page and it’s a great way to get your message and mood across.” says Rodney Allan. I couldn’t agree more. Through this communication, everyone can bring their individual strengths and needs to the table while having a basic understanding of the goals.In addition, it is a great way to weed out team his members who do not fit the concept. . This is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone on the team should be on the same page with the same goals. Otherwise, problems will result in the final product.

*Disclaimer: I’m a lifestyle photographer, so I can glean good information on other genres, but this “how-to” is clearly aimed at the type of work I’m most comfortable with.


concept development

Almost all shoots start the same way unless they are outsourced to a company. When I see or hear something, something flashes inside me, and an idea for a shoot is born. Whether it’s weddings or fashion, lifestyle or engagement, it all comes from somewhere. Unless you’re an expert in drawing your own original storyboards (and some of us are), I recommend looking around for images that closely resemble the idea you want to capture. By communicating your concept to the team, they have a clear understanding of what everyone is trying to achieve.

When thinking about a concept, there is one guiding question to keep in mind. Shooting for fun and developing your creativity is fine, but if you’re working toward a goal, it’s a good idea to spend more time shooting what you need, like building your portfolio. increase. Of course, when you reach the crossroads where the two meet, congratulations – you’ve found the golden ticket – run it for as long as you can.


mood board:

When creating mood boards, I sometimes like to use programs like Evernote. This is because you can create concept boards quickly and easily, as well as share them with your team from your desktop or iPhone app. Simple, effective and works really well. Remember that communication between team members should be as easy to understand as possible. It’s great to have a long sentence describing what you want to capture, but honestly, I don’t think you’ll get to the point faster than showing someone a picture and saying, “I want to do this.”

If Evernote isn’t your thing, my backup program is obviously Photoshop. I actually use this by default over anything else. Create a blank image and import and place as many photos as you need to understand the concept. In addition to images with wardrobe and possible location ideas, some of my friends with more specific or developed concepts have broken it down further to include separate hair and makeup sections. If the idea of ​​creating a mood board is new to you, we recommend that you skip dividing it into sections and keep the overall concept of the board. What I’ve found is pre-makeup he has a quick conversation with an artist or hair stylist and they’re usually all on the same page when it comes to keeping the hair and make-up in line with the overall concept/idea. to be in

I like to imagine that in the olden days of concept development, there was a room with hundreds and thousands of images ripped from magazines and hastily pasted to the walls. Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to fill your desktop and his Dropbox folder with hundreds of images fetched from the Internet. We recommend learning how to use the Screen Cap or Print Screen feature when you start creating mood boards. This allows you to browse or something to catch your eye and store for later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a photo online and fell in love with it but was too busy to take it. That. The best advice here is to always keep inspiration in the back of your head, as it can appear anywhere.

*Disclaimer II: I agree that it’s cool to screenshot captions and share other photographers’ work, but this borders on very weird territory. I wouldn’t mind if someone took a picture of me and used it as inspiration for his concept board, but I doubt other people feel that way. So feel free to use the work of other photographers.


Depending on what you want to shoot, there are several places you might want to look when looking for a concept. One of the places I recommend, perhaps the most obvious, is the magazine website itself. From lifestyle concepts that I shoot to high fashion and couture styles that my peers shoot, there are literally thousands to choose from. On top of that, Pinterest is probably his second most used place to look for inspiration. The search/hashtag feature is really nice and shows just about anything I could be looking for…and some.

I also enjoy visiting local retailers and websites to check out the latest catalogs and the latest style guides. No need to reinvent the wheel here.The purpose of the catalog is to show fashionable challengers which outfits work well with each other.They’ve already done the work for you. It’s also a great place to see all of the image sharing sites like Flickr, DeviantArt, 500px, Facebook, and of course Tumblr. Honestly, these days I tend to be filled with work that is quite different than what I am shooting, so I don’t spend much time on it.

Once you’ve gathered your images in Drive, use your image editor of choice to arrange them into a relatively cohesive moodboard, making sure all looks match each other and flow into something meaningful (As an aside, I highly recommend using a professional makeup artist, hair stylist, and wardrobe stylist for your shoot as it will give you a more professional look). Once you’ve created your mood board, review it to see if it matches what you’re trying to achieve, then send it to your team members.

All images in the moodboards above are copyright of their respective owners and used here for educational purposes. All images in this mood board are copyright of their respective owners and used here for educational purposes.

Future parts of this series will cover how this particular concept was developed, planned, communicated, shot, and much more.

*Disclaimer III: Moodboards, like anything else, are tools that, when used properly, can get you close enough to a particular or specific concept or idea you’re trying to achieve without actually copying someone else’s work. is. The photos may look similar, but the creative differences we as photographers bring to the table become apparent when you look at the final product. . Enjoy the difference in both approach and execution.

John Shell | Instagram | Vimeo

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