When I was married, a shot list wasn’t something that was common to give your photographer before the wedding, but I think I would have enjoyed creating one for him. I’m always looking for ways to be organized, and I love lists. Providing a shot list would have given me something to do during the waiting part of planning my wedding and really, I would have assumed it could have been helpful to my photographer! But I would have been wrong. There are a few important reasons why working from a shot list isn’t necessary for our working style!
Disclaimer: a “shot list” does not refer to a list for family formals; a list is quite necessary for that part of the wedding day!
1. We like to be emotionally present on the wedding day. A shot list forces us to check off a list of pictures instead of taking pictures of your wedding story as it unfolds. We want to capture you genuinely– the emotions, the moments– and we can’t do this if we’re looking at a list and forcing a pose from it.
2. Pinterest is a bride’s best friend, but it can also lead to unrealistic expectations. We’ll talk about this in a future blog post, but when a bride shows me a picture she wants to imitate from Pinterest, there are a few things I notice– the lighting, the location, the pose, the height difference between the couple, and even the hair style. When you see a picture on Pinterest, there’s a good chance it’s beautiful for many reasons that are out of our control. We can use the photo as inspiration but replicating it is often hard to do.
3. A shot list can keep you from getting photos you really want. So many of our favorite pictures take place between a pose, while in transition, or behind the scenes. If we’re only focused on the list, we’ll miss these special moments!
With that said, communication with your photographer is so important. If posed pictures are most important to you, communicate that. If candid pictures are most important to you, communicate that. I always ask our couples to provide us with a list of a few pictures we wouldn’t typically take during the wedding day. I think a list of 3 or 4 pictures is reasonable. For instance:
- The bride and groom with a group of their college friends
- The groom and ring bearer holding the family Bible used during the ceremony
- The mother of the bride with her siblings that all live out of state
The biggest compliment a couple can tell us before a wedding is “We trust you. Just do your thing.”
We don’t need a shot list for that!