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The Dos and Don'ts of Creating a Wedding Photo Shot List

We're demystifying this important guide.

Contributing Writer
melissa michael wedding family portrait
Photography by: Rebecca Yale Photography

When a wedding photographer requests a shot list, it's not uncommon for the couple to be confused. Shouldn't a professional photographer know to shoot your bouquet, your rings, your wedding party, and the speeches? The answer is yes, of course they know to document these details, but the list they're requesting is meant to accomplish something else. A modern wedding shot list is generally seen as a guide for formal photos and as a place to inform your pro about any unexpected details that are very important to you. Since they don't know your families, close friends, or that your bouquet will be wrapped with a piece of your grandma's wedding dress, it's crucial that you provide them with the information they need to capture the portraits and big-day elements that matter to you most.

 

If your photographer has a requested a shot list before the wedding day, know that they're simply asking for a guide that will help them deliver an album you love, not for step-by-step instructions on how to document your day. To ensure you give your pro exactly what they need to do their job to the best of their abilities, here are some dos and don'ts that will help you put together the perfect wedding photography shot list.

 

Related: Things Wedding Photographers Wish They Could Tell You

 

Do: View this as a guide.

Your photographer will mainly use your shot list to help arrange the formal group shots you want taken, so write out any combinations that are important to you. Similarly, you can call out any important wedding details here. If your groom is wearing his late father's watch or you two want to take solo portraits on a beautiful staircase somewhere on the property, give your photographer the heads up. This will help them plan ahead and allot extra time for any special requests.

 

Don't: Use it to state the obvious.

Professional photographers are well aware of the traditional shots they should be capturing—your first look, the escort card table, the flower children walking down the aisle, and the big kiss. You've hired them because you're confident they know how to do the job, so don't make them uncomfortable with a list that spells out the very basics. 

 

Do: Give them names.

Your shot list should include the names of each person in every different photo set-up, along with their relationship to the bride or groom. This makes it easier for the photographer and photographer's assistant to call out the shots in a cohesive and quick manner. Plus, while they may struggle to remember a name, the relationship note will serve as an easy reminder.

 

Don't: Make the list too long.

If you try to get a formal photo with every person attending the wedding, you'll end up posing for hours. Decide on the photos that are most important to you, then ask your photographer if you'll have time for any additional snaps, too. 


Do: Use logic to make your list.

Make your shot list in groupings that make logical sense. Take group photos with one side of them family before moving on to the other so that there aren't too many guests in one place at one time and so those that are finished smiling for the camera can enjoy cocktail hour.