A wedding shot list/checklist is a list of moments, actions, people, etc. that the bride/groom would like the photographer to capture on the wedding day. Essentially these are must-have or critical shots you want delivered from your wedding photographer.

It’s important to note that I’m referring to lengthy shot lists in this post. Giving your photographer a list of 2-3 must-have shots is not the same thing as a checklist of 10+ photos. Wedding shot lists are also not the same thing as a list of family formal groupings, which we actually do need if you want formal family photos (how else would we know which groups of family members to photograph?).

The Only Pro of Wedding Shot Lists

In theory, you’re providing your photographer with a syllabus of sorts for what he/she must capture during the day. It’s a great thing to have if you are using a photographer who has never photographed a wedding. They might not know what to expect, so a shot list could be helpful for them. Styled engagement shoot in San Diego, Champagne picnic captured on 400h film Contax 645 of a white table with deep blue silk runner and a flower arrangement with calligraphy champagne bottle and geometric candle containers, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

Cons of Wedding Shot Lists

If a photographer’s creativity and work are dictated by a shot list, he/she might miss all of the unfolding moments at your wedding that are likely more valuable to you than those from the list you found online. If you discuss beforehand your potential photographers’ shooting style and approach of the wedding day, you can be confident enough to forgo the list with trust in your hired photographer.

Wedding shot lists can be a huge time suck. Not only do photographers have to keep looking at the list and take time away from shooting, they also have to take the time to stage each of those shots. If you’ve listed 10 or more specifically-posed shots, this will take up most of your portrait time on the wedding day. You’ll be limited to mostly the images on your list and won’t have nearly as many authentic or creative portraits.

You might end up with a series of photographs that aren’t as important or exciting to you as you had expected. This is a theme that will pop up in my Pinterest post. Must-have shot lists are often very generic and not personal or specific to you in any way. The larger your list, the less room for exciting surprises there will be in your final photograph collection.

At the end of the day, trust in your photographer and good communication paired with a solid wedding timeline become the most important pre-wedding elements of your photography. Wedding shot lists or not, have realistic expectations, open dialogue, and excitement for your wedding photography.

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