Skip to main content

The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments

Lesson 40 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments

Lesson 40 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

40. The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments

As a working photographer you've probably had to build these documents; I remember the first time i had to build one I spent an hour on Google looking at some many different examples that I didn't even know where to begin. There is a lot of contradictory information on the web about this so it is my ambition to create a complete guide to building treatments and pre-pro books for adventure photographers.


Class Trailer



Workshop Intro






Gear - My Camera Bags


Mastering Camera Settings


Blue Hour, A How-To


Photos That Move Us


Visual Storytelling 101


Endurance In A World Of Sprinting


Keeping Your Ideas Fresh


Building Your Story Arc


Shooting More: Action Plan


Conveying Emotions


In the Field


The Assignment: Himalaya Pre-Pro


In the Field: The Himalaya Defender Shoot


The Assignment: Canon Pre-Pro


In the Field: Canon USA Shoot




Keywords & Organizing Images


Commercial Grading


Masking & Radial Filters


Perspective Correction


HDR (Hand-Held)


Black & White Edits


Before & Afters


Moody Grading


IG Export Settings


Web Export Settings


Clone Stamping & Patch Tools


Grading in Lightroom


Hand-Held Panoramas


Radial Filters Pt 2


Delivering Files to Clients


Archiving & Organizing Images


My Favorite Software




Let's Talk Business


Building A Desirable Portfolio


How to Contact Clients


Prospecting: Finding Brands That Fit You


Getting Clients To See Our Value


Paid to Travel the World


The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments


Keys To A Fulfilling Career


Three Things You Need To Know Before Pitching


Finding Your Value Proposition


Media Kit: A Walk Through


How I Built My Audience


Social Media Landscape


Module Recap


Bonus - Everything To Know About Filters


Do You Need Lens Filters?


Filters in The Field


Bonus - Find Your Path


Find Your Path


Bonus - How To Print Your Work


Why Print or Sell Photos


Preparing Photos for Print


Reviewing Major U.S Printers


Lesson Info

The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments

(bell chiming) As a working photographer you've probably had to build these documents. I remember the first time I had to build one I spent about an hour on Google looking at so many different examples that I didn't even know where to start. Let me say that there's a lot of contradictory information on the web and it is my ambition to create a complete guide to building treatments and pre-pro books for adventure photographers. This is it. Most of the information that I'm gonna share comes from my experience and I've supplemented with experiences from other photographers in the industry just so we can cover our bases. So how the hell do I do a mood board? In photography a mood board is a collage of images built to convey the general idea and overall feel of a project. On assignments, like a catalog shoot, or a product shoot, the client will send you their mood board so you get an idea of what they are after. Then you go out and build your interpretation of their mood board to show wha...

t types of shots you're after, the types of scenery and the emotions you're gonna convey. Yeah. So they send you a mood board, you interpret it and send them your mood board. Simple. Honestly, they're very helpful in making sure that the client and the photographer are just visually aligned. A lot of mistakes can be avoided thanks to the mood boards. Let me walk you through one of the mood boards we did for a project recently. Begins with some inspiration images at the top. Then they have it broken down into categories. So portraits, so they're looking for like real moments as they can see, people outside, some look into camera, some doing different things. Overall it's a good vibe. And there's a good balance of guys and gals. Then we go into the action part. Some familiar photos out here. See, it doesn't seem too extreme. It's more like frozen moments. So they're keeping their demographic pretty open, that tells me so the activities we choose are not gonna be that extreme. And then the product shots, the still life, this they show how they wanna show the product. Pretty organic way, right? Just nothing's too over the top, some cars, natural light, outdoors. So this, this just gives you an overall idea of the vibe they're going for. And then I'll probably wanna take this and refine it with what I wanna do, so okay, I've understood this. Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna take motorcycles, go to the desert and rip around the dunes, and then shoot some sunglasses kind of thing. Okay. Treatments. I use treatments all the time. They're the best way I've found to propel my ideas to the client in an exciting and beautiful way. Generally, when clients need to get something shot they'll put out a few emails to different photographers to get proposals, right? This is when you build your treatment. What is the goal of the treatment? Well, it's to show your prospective client these few things. First, what is the feel of the shoot? So, the mood board. Second, how will you do it? What's your crew and resources? Three, where? So general locations. And four, what are the deliverables and the shot list, if you have one. And then five, what's the timeline? And then six, what is the budget? So let me show you one of the treatments we've made for a project recently. You can make these as specific as you want. It all depends on your client. Personally, I've been able to sell large shoots with very simple treatments. Let me show you an example that we've done recently. This is between Stay and Wander and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which is a Swiss watch brand. Stay and Wander is our agency and Jaeger-LeCoultre, is a watch brand from Switzerland that's really high end. So see, the hint already is the brand is high end and in this context they came to us and they're like, "Guys, we're making this new watch. It is called the Polaris and it's a re-edition of a vintage diving watch." Like, all right. And they're like, literally, that's all they gave us. And they're like, "We need a film and a series of photos. What can you do?" So, sometimes the client doesn't send you a mood board and they'll just leave it all onto you. So lemme show you what we did. So begin here, we have the two logos, we have the watch on the left and then some neat ice cave because we're going somewhere cold. And then we explain, "Using the dynamic landscape of Iceland to show the multiple elements of water and the activities you can perform with the Polaris." That's what the watch is called. All right. Super simple. You get the idea of the vibe. Boom. Here is our boat, Aurora Arktika, Isafjordur. So, you get the idea of the boat and the location. And then here's the mood board playing out. So you see somebody on the deck of the boat, you see a product shot, and then you see this cool wave shot. We're gonna be in the water, it's a dive watch. Here's our other location, Deplar Farm, Troll Peninsula, Iceland. So, the reason we picked Deplar Farm is because it's a really cool lodge in the middle of nowhere in Iceland. And the reason we picked it is because it's high end which matches the customer of this watch, which this watch was, I think it sells for $9,000 or $15,000. Sells for a decent amount of money. So, the visuals have to match that. We can't just go camping, you know? We're going to Deplar Farm. Then this is how Deplar Farm looks like. Here's the watch again in action. So we're just sprinkling product shots in here. And this is just before we shoot anything, right? This is just the mood board to get the client excited. Third location, Volcano Pilot, glacier rivers. So we've all seen these shots of the rivers in Iceland. And then we wanted to go film that a few years ago for this film. So, this is another way, (fingers snapping) what is this exactly? Wow, this is just the other location. So this is our third location and then we follow with more product shots, again. See how each location has a product shot attached to it. And this one is a bit more outdoorsy 'cause he's wearing a jacket 'cause we're outside on a plane and it's pretty cold. Let's see, waterfall and some more rivers. And then boom. This is where we went a little above and beyond. On a mood board you don't have to put your price or your deliverables, but in the interest of time we actually had the deliverables at the end. So one film, one minute max, that's what they wanted a 60 second film. Film posted to Alex Strohl, YouTube channel, and to my Instagram. And then five to 10 images for the client. Thank you, done. So this is, for me, the most powerful ways to convey my idea to the client. They come in, they need something quick. As often, it's like that. We gotta put something together that's desirable to them, ship it. And once you win the bid, hopefully your treatment was strong enough, you think you got this, your client may request a pre-production booklet. Unless you're also doing the production yourself, in that case, they don't really care how you do it. And they'll be happy enough with your treatment. And I'm gonna talk about later about how to make a production booklet. Tools for treatments. Once again, the example before I showed you was built on keynote, but just like for mood boards you can use InDesign, or Spark, or God forbid PowerPoint. So if you have a vision and you don't have an image to show that vision to your client, I'd say go and use any image you find that matches that. So other web based options include Pinterest, Pixieset, and We will link them in the PDF of the workshop. And honestly, when it comes to delivering a mood board I prefer the old fashioned PDF that I create with the desktop app, like InDesign, because the client can print it. Print my document forward it internally by email, it's just easier. Some of these other tools have passwords in them and it just gets to be complicated. I love simplicity and I wanna treat my clients the same way.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

A Note From Alex

Ratings and Reviews


Not What I Was Expecting Let me just start by saying that the workshop was very good. There were lots of things that I learned and many insights I took away. Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom imparted to me was not anything Alex said but how he approached every subject he talked about. I felt that he was talking to me as a friend, very personal and open book. This was both a blessing and a curse as the course tends to meander around and is not as structured as others I've taken. Alex's passion for the highest quality, and craftsmanship in every aspect of his business, is very evident. From the premiums he charges, to the attention to detail in client deliveries. This is where my review is going to give some hopefully constructive criticisms. For someone so focused on a premium experience I was a surprised to find the course a bit sloppily assembled, and the videography and editing lackluster. This is coming from a videographer and someone with a lot of experience in online training. A few short examples to illustrate my point include: repeating segments of the edit (in some instances the exact same segment), poor framing. Colors changing between cuts, and my biggest pet peeve, not leaving photo examples on for long enough to see them. These are all small things, but they add up, and along with the topics meandering, left me a bit disappointed. I'm curious who you would say this class is aimed towards. Amateurs, mid-level, or experts? The assumption of who you are addressing changes throughout the course. I feel like with a bit of work from an instructional designer, and some editing cleanup, you could help hone this course to be one of the best out there. I feel like I need to do a more in depth review than will fit here, to actually explain this well. Let me know if that would be helpful to you. One other note: When I signed up for a workshop on Adventure Photography, I honestly thought it would be more field focused. The field examples were all shoots for products, and not shoots documenting an adventure. I guess I had just hoped to learn that side of the storytelling process more. Getting into the nitty gritty of being wet, cold, and dirty, and still shooting bangers. The section on filters (going out and building the snow cave) was more what I thought this course was going to be. Anyhow, with all that said, I still found it valuable and worthwhile. To summarize, the course feels a bit unpolished and in some ways unfinished though there is still great value. I've taken Jimmy Chin's Masterclass on adventure photography and it felt very structured and highly polished. I purchased "Adventure Pro" on the "finish in a month" discount. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price with the course in its current state. Thanks for reading and I hope my criticisms come as helpful. As I've already mentioned I'd be happy to further elaborate.

Topher Hammond

One of the best photography investments I'm only 1/4 of the way through Alex's course and I feel like I already have a loose plan on how I can move forward in my own career as a photographer. I felt like my work was lacking a specific feeling. The way that Alex articulated ideas on how to convey emotion in your imagery and building that overarching story arc for your own life narrative were super helpful to focus on how to make my work better. Super looking forward to the rest of this course. Thanks Alex and team!

Sergi Mas de xaxars Rosell

Great Workshop I learned quite a lot with this workshop. Because I'm in the industry for 5 years now, there were a few things I already knew. On the other hand, Alex showed me different and more effective ways to improve my business. I like the way he gives the lessons, always in a personal and close way. This is the knowledge I wish I had when I started. Totally worth it!

Student Work