How to Utilize an Inspiration Board when Planning a Photo Shoot

When planning a photo shoot, it’s not enough to just use written descriptions. Photography requires visual brainstorming methods to illustrate your vision. Inspiration boards are a fantastic way to gather various ideas so that you can produce imagery with a consistent look and theme, as well as a powerful message. Below are the steps to use an inspiration board to help plan your photo shoot.

How to use an inspiration board when planning a photo shoot by Charuk Studios


Step 1: Save a variety of photos

The more ideas you have to choose from, the better your end product will be, so be sure to save plenty of photos to use as a visual reference. Compiling ideas from a variety of sources also prevents you from plagiarizing someone else’s work by imitating any one image too closely.

The internet is full of image sources to pull ideas from, but my favourite resource for planning a photo shoot concept is Pinterest. This social media platform works like a search engine, but instead of pulling up a number of websites, you are provided with photos matching your search query. I prefer using Pinterest to a typical search engine because the quality of photos are generally much higher and there’s a ton of variety among them as well.

As an added bonus, the platform allows you to conveniently follow any accounts that you especially adore or that share a lot of the kinds of content you’re interested in. Whatever photos you save, make sure to collect a wide variety and that they accurately represent all elements of your photo shoot, from the styling to lighting, location and more.

An example of inspiration images saved for a bridal photo shoot.

An example of inspiration images saved for a bridal photo shoot.


Step 2: Refine your selection

The next step is to refine your photo selection. It’s great to have a lot of ideas to choose from, but too many can also make it harder to focus on key elements. For instance, I always save a plethora of photos to a Pinterest board, but only a small number of these actually make it to the final inspiration board.

Choose the images that you feel resonate the most with your creative direction, theme and brand. Your final selection should accurately depict the direction you have in mind for the photo shoot so that they can act as a visual guide. I know it can be difficult to choose between two equally great images, but avoid choosing any that are too similar. Each image must have its own individual purpose on your board.


Step 3: Import into inspiration board template

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, it’s time to import your images into an inspiration board template. Images can be arranged in any number of ways, but I typically use a simple grid layout for my own business and clients.

I like the minimalist look of having a small number of images with evenly spaced white boarders around them. Inspiration boards come in a variety of styles and arrangements, so the layout you choose is entirely up to you!

Final images selected for the photo shoot direction and designed into an inspiration board.

Final images selected for the photo shoot direction and designed into an inspiration board.


Step 4: Send inspiration board to your team/client

The main purpose of an inspiration board is to communicate the overall look and feel of a photo shoot to the people you are working with. When planning imagery, you work with subjective visual concepts, so it can be difficult to communicate them using words alone. For instance, what’s ‘clean and elegant’ to you may mean something else entirely to another person.

For this reason, visuals or inspiration boards are needed to communicate the direction clearly. Once I have created and finalized my concept and am happy with the outcome, I share it with anyone who is involved with the photo shoot. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and allows me to receive confirmation from my client that I have interpreted their vision accurately.


Tell me in the comments, do you use an inspiration board in your business? And what is your process for creating one?

If you are planning a photo shoot download my questionnaire I use with clients to define their brand direction, this is the first step before I create an inspiration board! Sign up to have the PDF delivered right to your inbox.