Kaitlyn Luckow


How To Create Mood In Your Photography

As a photographer, the comment I get the most on my work is that it is moody and as a result what I’m asked the most is how to create an appropriate mood in your work. Mood is definitely something that I spend a lot of time working on and perfecting because I think mood is so important when telling a story, no matter what kind of photography you're taking. I mean, basically, “mood” is just another word for “emotion”. And without emotion, there is no story.

So how can you create mood in your photography?

Here are some main things I focus on in order to create the mood in my photos:

Building Relationships is Key

Building relationships is the most important thing you need to do as a photographer in general, but it becomes increasingly important when you're trying to tell a very specific story. Through building a strong relationship with your clients and subjects, you can not only know what look they want from their photos, but you also can get to know them personally and create photographs that reflect them and their own story.

Or if you are working with models or collaborating with other creatives, it's important to sit down before you start shooting so everyone has the same vision before going into the actual shoot.

Once you know what your client wants or how you're going to collaborate with other creatives, you can start creating the mood that you want to convey.   Possible moods you may want to create could be romantic (which would incorporate soft light and tones), classic (which would incorporate strong light and color), elegant (which would incorporate more clean lines and black and white photos), and my personal favorite, introspective (harsh shadows and highlights of details).


Use Lighting Intentionally

Lighting and aperture can really affect and play into the mood you are trying to shoot.

When working with lighting during a photoshoot, you should be aware of the light you are capturing in your lens. The aperture you are using can determine how much light is exposed to the photo. The more light, the more exposure will occur in your photos. The smaller the number of aperture, the wider the lens opening, which means you are letting more light into the camera.

Depending on the mood you're looking for, the amount of light you're using can make a huge difference. If you're looking for a more ethereal mood, you should use a smaller aperture. If you're looking for a darker look, the number of aperture should be higher to make the lens opening smaller.

Editing Is Where The Magic Happens

When creating a mood for your photoshoot, it is important that you are consistent with your editing. In order to create this consistency, it’s helpful to create your own presets or filters depending on what photo editing software you’re using.

If you are using Adobe Lightroom, you can create your own preset to use throughout your photos to reflect the mood you wish to convey. You can even use the same presets beyond just one photoshoot in order to create a more cohesive set of work and portfolio.

Creating presets or using filters will help make sure that all of your photos are consistently edited and are working together to tell the story.


Using Black & White Photography

Shooting black and white photographs can be extremely powerful when you're looking to create an intimate and timeless feel. Although the color is taken out of the frame, it is still important to maintain a desired and consistent mood with the rest of your shoot.  

While taking black and white photos, it’s important to imagine the photo without the color. Instead of looking at how the colors interact with each other in the photo, you need to look at how the hues and tones work together in the photo.

The lack of color in a photograph can be powerful because it can help the viewer focus more on the actual subjects of the photo, and therefore the emotions can come across more powerfully.


At the end of the day, “moody” photos don’t have to be photos that are dark and introspective. Moody photos are photos that tell a story and make the viewer feel raw and intimate emotions. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with your clients and with your work. It’s going to up-level your photography game and make you care that much more about the work you’re creating.