The reasons you don’t need a shot list

October 31, 2022

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bride and groom in bounce house

Hi guys, 

Today is going to be a bit of a hot take! I am going to talk to you about a shot list and the reasons that I don’t believe you need one. You may see things on Pinterest or in wedding magazines about “shot lists” where you have a list of photos you want your photographer to take. However, I’m going to let you know why most photographers don’t work off of shot lists and why that shouldn’t make you nervous! 

So what is a shot list anyways? A shot list is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a list of shots or photos that you want to make sure that your wedding photographer captures. Typically shot lists end up being very extensive and to be honest, it can be very easy for couples to get into the weeds when making a shot list. Here’s an example of a shot list that can be overwhelming: 

  • Rings together 
  • Rings with florals 
  • Rings with jewelry and invitations 
  • Jewelry with florals 
  • Jewelry with shoes 

You see where I’m going with this? 

Now let me explain why the majority of photographers either prefer not to work off of shot lists or won’t use them at all!

It takes away the creativity 

Bride and groom jumping in bounce house

Handing over a lengthy list of images that you want to make sure your photographer captures is a quick way to take away what you hired them for; their creativity and eye. Photographers have a set group of standard images that they are going to ALWAYS make sure they capture at any wedding. With that being said, each wedding is unique! You have a different location, mix of people, and details than any other wedding. That means that your photographer is going to be working their creative magic uniquely on your wedding day! 

If your photographer is in a corner ticking off a long list of shots, they are probably going to be missing the candid and real moments that are actually happening. They also may not have time to get creative shots with your details because they’re trying to keep up with the list they’ve been given! When you hire a photographer, you should be hiring them because you love their work and trust them creatively. That is what is going to give you the photos that you’re going to be squealing over! Trust me, I know it can be hard to let go of control, but that’s what you hired a professional for! 

Photographers know what they’re doing 

signature cocktails at wedding

Not only do you hire a professional photographer for their creativity and eye, but because they are a professional at what they do! Photographers know that there are photos that every couple is going to want no matter the wedding day. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from most traditional wedding days: 

  • Detail shots (dress, rings, etc) 
  • Getting ready photos
  • Wedding party photos 
    • Individuals with each member 
    • Formal photos with each group 
    • Fun photos with each group 
    • Formal photos with the whole group 
    • Fun photos with the whole group 
  • Ceremony photos 
  • Family formals 
  • Wedding portraits 
    • The classic photos smiling at the camera 
    • The creative photos that will make you feel like a Pinterest influencer 
  • Reception photos
    • Reception details (centerpieces, dessert table, etc)
    • Cake cutting
    • First dance 
    • Dance floor photos 

Photographers know that the “standard” formal photo of you smiling with your grandma is just as important to your gallery as the fun party shots at the end of the night! Each part of your wedding day deserves to be captured in a way that you can look back and relive your day! 

Let’s get very honest here 

bride and groom spraying champagne

I’m going to say what some may not want to say: you are not going to use all 1,000+ images from your wedding day! Hear me out, because I know you spend your hard earned money on photographs and want beautiful images. Which is exactly why I don’t like shot lists! Because the average person isn’t going to frame their ring or detail shots in 5 different poses. You know what you will frame? The photo of your mom smiling at you in the mirror while you get ready. Those are the small moments that photographers have the ability to capture when they have freedom from shot lists! 

Bonus: Don’t be afraid to ask for specific images 

I’ve written this whole blog convincing you that you don’t need a shot list, however don’t be afraid to ask for specific images that you really want! For example, if there is a wedding party photo or picture from your parents wedding that you want to recreate, let your photographer know! Those specific shots that you want to recreate should be mentioned for sure and most photographers will be happy to do those.

Do you have any questions about getting the images you want from your wedding day? Contact me today and I’d love to help! 


Your future family heirlooms await.