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Should I give my Wedding Photographer a shot list?

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Is it best to let the photographer do them, or give them a definitive list of how you want your wedding album to turn out? Perhaps there is a middle ground.

Although this is a great example of how good intentions just don't work out sometimes, I do still love it lol but the point remains; if a particular shot is reliant on young ones compliance ... I'd prepare for the fact that they may not be in the mood.

In this day and age with the likes of pintrest and tiktok; mood-boarding and trawling the internet for ideas is a given. This is both great and not so great, because whilst you can get some fantastic ideas on what photos you want out of your day, not all of those moments might happen, especially if they rely on the involvement of your guests.

Manage your expectations, if you have your heart set on photos at sunset by the ocean but are booked for a twilight wedding in the city, you're going to be disappointed.

We welcome examples being sent to us, it gives us a good idea of where the boundaries are, how far we can push the boat out to get you what you want. However in doing this you do need to consider a few things, like if it does involve your guests, are they going to be up for it? Do they have the capability for it; consider mobility and age (both young and old), have you allowed the time for it? Depending on the shot you're after, there may be a certain degree of production to make it happen, which takes time.

But, depending on your photographer, a full blow by blow of the shots you want for the day is not a good idea (which we have certainly had). Really in depth shot lists that goes into detail of every shot to get during prep, during the ceremony, during the reception, during the first dance etc are just too much. Your photographer cannot remember that much information, can't guarantee that the moment you want to capture will even happen and will likely miss great opportunities to capture in the process.

The only thing that we ask for is a list of is your formal group shots, we generally try and limit to around 10, we of course will do more if you want more, but more often than not; the ones that didn't limit themselves end up still getting around 10 and can't be bothered any more after that on the day anyway.

Group shots; why 10 (ish) ?

  • Really, honestly, a lot of people don't actually enjoy the group shots, it's a lot of standing around waiting for your turn or finding out if you even made the cut.

  • Whilst it's a new set of people in each shot, you'll be in most of them and by the end your smiles become a little less genuine.

  • If it takes too long people start to wander off to the bar, to the loo, to the canapes etc.

  • Most of them you won't actually care that much about later anyway and will probably not see the light of day again, just because your great aunt tessa that you see once every 10 years is there, doesn't mean she should make it to your group shots.

  • Consider whether it is a photo you would put in a frame, hang on a wall etc if it's not is it really that important to you?

  • It's not the last chance you have that day for getting a photo with someone and the fun ones later in the day are just as good, if not better (imo) than the formal ones.

Benefits of a group shots list:

  • Your photographer does not know your entire guest list

  • They don't know who you are close with, and who you aren't

  • They don't know touchy subjects e.g. 'can I have the grandparents please?' 'They passed away' or 'can I have the brides parents please?' 'They wouldn't come'... the awkward list goes on and I can promise you it can and does happen without a plan.

  • Whilst for the laid back types the the idea of winging it on the day can be tempting, in the excitement of the day you are likely to forget any particular ones that you did want to get and may be disappointment if you don't get them. You have put a lot of thought and planning into the rest of your day, most of which will come and go on the day, the photos are what stay around forever after, our advice is put a little thought into it.

What is the right approach for you?

I will stress that all photographers work differently and essentially; get their advice on what they need. At the end of the day you chose them based on their work, what do they need out of you to achieve what they do? It's pretty standard to have a pre-wedding meeting with your photographer and its a great time and opportunity to discuss it with them and come up with a plan.


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