Why you shouldn’t give your wedding photographer a shot list 

Today I want to give my thoughts on shot lists! I’ve been a wedding photographer for 10 years, all of which shooting in a documentary and editorial style. By a shot list, I mean the lists you may find on Pinterest, titled something like ‘100 must have shots at your wedding’. Brides Magazine recently shared one on their Threads and it made me want to speak up. Here are my reasons why you don’t need one:

1. Weddings are about emotions, fleeting moments and interactions

Your wedding is one of a handful of days in your lives where all of your loved ones, friends and family may be gathered in the same place. Having everyone share in your day and have fun is a joy to watch after you’ve planned it for so long. These kinds of photos aren’t on a list, as they’re the unscripted, natural, fleeting moments. They’ll be the ones in your gallery you’ll say ‘wow, I didn’t even know that happened’, and be the ones to make you smile at the natural joy. If I’m sticking to a long shot list, the time I can spend on capturing these moments and emotions, is really limited.

2. They stifle creativity

You’re hiring your photographer for not only their experience, but their creativity and because you liked their work that you’d already seen. Shot lists don’t allow for creativity or letting a photographer lean into their own style and way of shooting.

3. You won’t be present

The most important thing to me on a wedding day is my couples and guests feeling relaxed and having fun. The day will go quickly as it is, so you should soak up every moment. Please don’t be stuck looking at a list wondering if I’ve captured everything (I will have 🙂 ). If I’m busy trying to stage something, I’ll miss so much, and so will you.

4. It adds unnecessary pressure

I’ve seen shot lists with around 50 ‘must have’ photos for just bridal prep. Wouldn’t you prefer to have a true, authentic story of your day and just enjoy the moment of getting ready with your bridesmaids? Cross checking a list and organising minute details will mean more pressure on you, your guests and photographer. You definitely don’t need to be adding stress to one of the best day of your lives.

5. Trust your photographer

Giving your photographer a long list of must haves, shows you don’t trust in them. Being handed a shot list is a bit insulting as it’s like giving us a manual for our job. After a decade of shooting weddings, I go into a wedding knowing exactly what I need to capture and how I’ll go about it. I know where I need to be and when. So don’t worry, I’ll get everything, just in a natural and authentic way. Trust us, we know what we’re doing 🙂

6. Shot lists don’t consider YOUR wedding

Shot lists don’t consider your venue, or wedding day choices. Some photos may not be possible at your venue, or with your timings – Pinterest inspo isn’t always achievable. Of course I’m here to try and accommodate everything, but weddings can be unpredictable and things often don’t go to plan, so it’s best to go with the flow.

How do I work instead?

When my couples are booking me, I describe myself as a combination of a ninja and one of your old friends/a guest. I primarily want you, and your guests, to be comfortable with me and have a fun day. This is why I mostly shoot in the background, capturing everything as it naturally unfolds. I also love chatting to your guests and mingling in. This is part of the way I capture the natural moments that I do, and it all to feel effortless.

Being a photographer is also about being a time keeper, an extra pair of hands and an experienced, calm presence. There’s not many people who will have been to as many weddings as your photographer, so I’m happy to use that knowledge to help on the day.

The only time I ‘direct’ as it were, or require a list is for group shots. Ahead of the wedding, I ask my couples to send over that list. This is so I can work through them quickly on the day and make sure no one’s missed. Group shots can often be like herding cats and lots of couples get bored of them very quickly. Now imagine if your whole day was spent sticking to a rigid list. As a previous bride with experience, please just enjoy your wedding and trust your photographer 🙂

If I sound like your kind of wedding photographer, head over to my enquiry form and pop me over a message 🙂 We can make some magic without the list 🙂

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