There is a way to unlink the vector mask, but it involves several steps instead of the CS4-style quick click on a chain symbol. This is just one of the many botches in the CS6 pretense that a Shape is a new type of layer when it really is still a Fill layer with vector mask but with an additional stroke attribute.
1. In Layers panel, target the Shape layer.
2. In Properties panel, shift-click the vector mask thumbnail to disable it (a red cross will appear on it and a matching thumbnail will appear in Layers panel).
3. In Layers panel, you now will be able to click the chain between Fill thumbnail and vector mask thumbnail.
4. In Layers panel or Properties panel, shift-click the vector mask thumbnail to re-enable the unlinked mask (the mask thumbnail will disappear from Layers panel).
Often there's no need to unlink a vector mask, though:
A pattern-filled or gradient-filled Shape can have its fill moved around independently of its linked vector mask. Just drag on the fill on the canvas with the Move Tool.
A Layer Style Pattern Overlay or Gradient Overlay can be moved around independently of a linked vector mask or linked layer mask. Open the Layer Style PO or GO dialog then drag on the overlay on the canvas.
I am having an issue similar to that explained above. I need it to be added with the layer mask.
I am trying to add several black shapes to a blank canvas to be able to make place in photos and clip them into the shapes. Is there another way this can be done. I was a bit lost in your reply.
It is relatively easy to create Collage PSD Template for Photoshop. There are several ways to design them. One way is to create image place holder layer with layer mask that you insert images into when you populate a copy of a template. Photoshop support thousands of layers.
The way I do it is to user Alpha channels to map where images go. Photoshop only supports 53 Alpha channels so my collage templates are limited to 53 images. I populate my template using Photoshop scripts. The Alpha channels are use to resize placed image files to fit the alpha channel sizes. Also to position the resized image and to virtually crop the resize images by adding the alpha channels to the image smart object layers. I have scripts that batch populate templates, Populate one and remain open in Photoshop for further tweaking. And a interactive script the allows you to select image as the template is being populated and tweak their placement and sizing. The script also have options for adding text layer with filename over the images in one of 9 locations. Layer styles can also be optionally added to image and text layers. Animated Templates are even possible.
Photo Collage Toolkit: http://www.mouseprints.net/old/dpr/PhotoCollageToolkit.html
One I populated today click on image for a Video Demo: