Why You Need a Mood Wall

by | Jun 11, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A mood wall or board is consists of images, text and objects built around upon a set topic. It 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 one morning when one of them, an accomplished photographer who shoots for Playboy, said something about 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 concept 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 design 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 digital 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 idea awaits completion. In the meantime, I’m happily collecting images in a “Mood Wall” folder on my 5K iMac that’s periodically reviewed and updated (to eliminate those “what was I thinking images”) and then downloaded to my iPad. In the meantime, the images I’ve collected are used for two purposes:

  • The first was for backgrounds/sets/locations that I could use or create to get out of the rut of shooting with the same backdrops I’ve used for many years. For a look at my take on backgrounds check out my post Seamless Paper & Alternative Backdrops.
  • The second was a posing guide, especially useful when working with new models who may not have refined their skills. I wanted to be able to show them a pose from the mood wall as a way of inspiring them. For my take on model posing skills, please check out my post Photographing Different Kinds of Portrait Subjects.

And lest you think this is all about copying another photographer’s work, I disagree. The one thing that I’ve noticed in every workshop I’ve taught is that students, even when using the same cameras and lenses, never 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 virtual mood wall a try, you’ll be glad you did.

How I made the above shot: I photographed Heather on a movie set in Arizona trying to evoke a kind of daydreaming Huck Finn. I used a Canon EOS 50D with an EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM lens and an exposure of 1/200 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 400. An 550EX speedlight was used for fill. I stupidly sold this wonderful lens and it’s been discontinued but you can pick up a used one on Amazon for approx. $160, as I write this.

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat Joe to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here. And if you do, many thanks.


If you’re interested in learning how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere which is available new from Amazon.com for $17.07 or used copies starting at the bargain price of$5.55, as I write this. The Kindle version is only $11.99 if you prefer a digital format.