Photo Ideas for Using Mood in Photography

One way to convey an emotional tone to the viewer is by using mood in photography.

Below we share tips for taking pictures that convey mood. Use them in addition to basic photography techniques to compose your image.

Thank you to the photographers who shared their mood photos with us to help illustrate this photography technique.

Use the photo ideas below to inspire you to get out and capture your own mood images.

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Camera Gear for Landscape Photography

  • Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
  • Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
  • Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
  • Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card! → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
  • External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. 
  • Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!

Mood Photography Ideas

Take a look at the mood photos shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey.

Use the tips and ideas for inspiration to get out and photograph your own images that portray emotion using mood!


Contrast is one of the great tools in photography for creating visual impact. 

When you apply contrast in a composition, it creates a specific mood in a photograph.

In the photo above by Kevin Hehl, he has used heavy contrast in light and dark tones to evoke a very moody presence as the landscape transitions from day to night.

Kevin has centered the horizon line so there is equal space to showcase the colorful sky and reflection.

Jeff Hall utilizes a black and white approach to instill mood in this awesome image. 

Black and white is an effective medium for emphasizing contrast, and casting a somber, and sobering mood within a photographic composition. 

Jeff has used the rule of thirds to compose the photo with the subject along the right grid line.


Capturing fog in a photograph is an effective method for evoking mood in images. 

Fog adds a sense of drama, mystery, and contemplation to a composition. 

In James Griffin’s fantastic capture above, the light fog in the scene adds to the framing effect created by the surrounding vegetation.

In this cool image, captured by Sharon Plyler, the fog enveloping the elements of the composition creates a mood of calm and quiet reflectivity. 

The subject is isolated within the frame and balanced by the bland space introduced in the murky background.

Light and Shadows

Roy Goldsberry captured a wonderful scene where mood is created by natural light and shadows. 

There is natural light on the leading line of the path through the trees. In contrast you see dark shadows in the forest along the path.

The combination creates a sense of solitude, serenity or even danger for the viewer.


Space can be used to evoke a sense of isolation and focus in a photograph.

Kathleen Spatuzzi has organized her composition around an environmental castaway cut off by a thick and enveloping fog. 

She has used rule of thirds to place the tallest tree along the left grid line. And placed the horizon line close to the center for equal space above and below the subject.


In photography, weather has moods. The special effects created by weather also reflect a mood.

The mood of a photo using weather elements can be peaceful, tranquil, ominous, happy, sad and more.

Tina Brasington’s image uses golden hour light to illuminate the various layers in this peaceful scene.

The foreground rocks and grass have a nice soft light, the midground peaks are in shadow and the background sky is full of interesting clouds with color and texture.

In contrast, the weather in Kelly Benton’s photo creates a much different mood.

The clouds in this landscape scene provoke a sense of drama and impending change with stark contrast of lights and darks .

When photographing water, lighting and weather create interesting effects to capture.

The dark clouds in this scene create an ominous mood in the image below by Gerardo Trevino.

He also captures the natural contrast of light on the trees against the dark sky, as we talked earlier in this article.

Using the river as a leading line through the trees into the landscape creates the effect of depth and interest for the viewer.

Sun and Light

The sun is an uplifting element of life that evokes happiness, rejuvenation, and energy in the environment around it. 

In the photo above by Hoyt Mann, the sun crossing the horizon at sunrise immediately draws the eye.

There is something magical about sunrise pictures. Looking at them just makes you happy.

This photograph by Diane Sapphiere illustrates the moody qualities of reflected sunlight.

Golden Hour photos are taken the first hour after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset that produces a warm natural light.

Remember you don’t need to photograph the sun itself at sunrise or sunset. The color and tones of reflected light at these times are just as impactful!

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