Why photographers don’t use shot lists (and what shot lists they do use)


It’s one of the first suggestions on most wedding blogs regarding a photographer – give them a shot list. Usually referenced as a play by play list of things you want photographed, this list can include things like “bride putting on dress” or “first kiss” and similar.

However, basically any experienced wedding photographer is going to tell you that the list isn’t needed. Experienced wedding photographers know what happens next.

Many of the things on these lists supplied by blogs are things that naturally happen at weddings – see “bride and groom walking back up the aisle” and “people on the dancefloor”. Any wedding photographer is going to know to photograph these things, so working off of a list is going to become more of a distraction.

There is a list you should give your photographer, however.

If you have any family heirlooms or special events, let your photographer know ahead of time. Also, fill out a family portrait list with the names of people in each grouping.

These items vary widely from event to event, so a list of these things are what your photographer really needs to make sure they catch the items they wouldn’t know about otherwise.

My clients fill out a questionnaire 3 months before their wedding detailing items like this (including their family list, which should have a good guest count by now). This questionnaire plays a huge role in the thoroughness of photographing their wedding and knowing what’s the most important thing to them (hint: it’s always the people).

So skip the copy-and-pasted shot list for your photographer, and instead build one from the things that truly matter to you. If your photographer is able to work by seeing what unfolds naturally at your event, you’ll receive images far more meaningful to you than if they’re off taking a miscellaneous photograph that doesn’t have nearly as much value.

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A wedding and portrait photographer based in Duluth + Minneapolis MN, traveling outward.

A believer in the honest and a photographer of the true moments that surround your life.

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