Lab 04: Working with Mood Boards & References
Pre Production Essentials
Hi! and thank you!
It’s newsletter #4, and as I am slowly unpacking my process as a photographer it’s great to see that new subscribers are getting here regularly, so I just wanted to quickly say Hi 👋 and tell you that it’s a great motivation to read your replies and actually engage in a conversation. As always: feel free to share and reply to these tiny letters.
I’ve got a few ideas for the upcoming issues of this newsletter, but first of all i want to dive into the thoughts, ideas and tools for pre production that I use on a regular basis.
Working with Mood Boards & References
When I was starting out in photography, I mainly worked in a documentary and portrait based environment, using mostly available light and rarely flash or continuous light sources. For assignments and personal work I almost never scouted locations before the shoot and was developing concepts and lighting style while on location and using whatever tool, angle and window I could find.
I was working fast and did many setups in a short amount of time, often times filling my cards very quickly. To this day I enjoy working like this, especially for editorial assignments and on select assignments. Using a minimal setup, working alone or with one assistant, looking to make the best out of a location in a given set of time.
But over the last couple of years, especially working in commercial photography, this approach evolved into something more pre-planned. This applies to assignments as well as passion projects and I became much more interested in pre production aspects of a shoot, from an initial idea to concept, to mood board and references followed by treatment, scout and finally shoot and postproduction.
I’m currently in the planning process of three different personal projects that I wanted to tackle for a while but never found the time to start, but as you read in last weeks newsletter, a big chunk of time suddenly opened up for the next weeks so I decided to use it for something good. And I prefer to treat my personal projects like I would treat my commercial work, going the full route of pre- to shoot to post-production.
Usually as a second step after coming up with an idea or concept and deciding on cast I work with references and mood boards, to get a better understanding of the visual direction, the lighting and general mood of the scenes. This especially helps to explain the project to cast and crew and also informs the scouting and recce process. The same applies during the pitch and concept phase of a commercial project, working closely with the art director and team on the general look and feel of the shoot.
Besides using mood boards for productions and personal work, I’m using references to learn about different lighting techniques and general different approaches from various creative fields, graphic design included. The creative insights you gain can be applied to your own work and you learn from reading the original image. This is not only beneficial if you are just starting out, it helps to read the original image and try different combination of images before the shoot.
One of the greatest pieces of software that I truly and undoubtedly enjoy to use is Eagle. Sporting a stupid name, a 29.95$ price tag (no subscription, phew!), Win and Mac compatibility and a massive toolset it’s the best app out there in my opinion to work with reference images, moods or any other asset you can think of. It’s good for photographers, filmmakers, architects, designers and possibly even to archive your holiday snapshots.
It creates a local library and puts nothing in the cloud. I prefer that in this case, not only for copyright reasons. But it will take space on your harddrive obviously. Yet it is possible to synch an eagle catalogue via services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
One of the best features is the browser extension, which lets you save and organize screenshots, images, videos, entire websites and much more in one click. You could arguably do everything eagle does in bridge or any other image archival tool, but the browser extension makes all the difference.
Another great feature: the sort by colors feature, which comes in handy if you are looking for certain combinations or moods. Plus smart folders and tags. All in all it’s a pleasure to use. Did I mention that it’s reasonable priced and no subscription attached?
You can try and buy eagle here:
(this is not a sponsored post, i don’t get any compensation by posting this!)
Have a look at the website for the full list of features. There are plenty!
Thanks for another week! Talk soon!