Should Photographers Use A Shot List At Weddings? || Plus a FREE Download!

FAQ, Tips, Info, Miscellaneous

November 2, 2017


“Do you use a shot list at weddings?”

This is a question we’ve been asked quite a few times over the years, mostly by photographers. Before I go into talking about whether we use one or not, I’ll clarify what a “Shot List” is for those of you who may not know.

Basically, a shot list is a list of “shots” or photos that the couple wants their photographer to take at their wedding. For example:

– The rings

– Bride getting into her dress

– Groom’s reaction as bride comes down the aisle

– The Kiss

– Father/Daughter dance

These are all very important shots to get, so it is completely understandable why brides may feel the need to create a list like this and why photographers might feel inclined to refer to said list. But, to answer the question, “Do you use a shot list at weddings?”… the answer is no, we don’t.

Well… yes and no.

Yes, we use a family photo shot list (more on that later, PLUS a FREE download!), but no we do not use a shot list like the one above.

It’s not because we don’t want to take those photos or that we won’t take these photos… on the contrary! It’s because those photos and photos along those lines that are typically on a shot list are photos that we consider standard shots — shots that photographers will already take on every wedding day. The groom’s face (or his hand wiping the tears from his face) is a shot we always take. And it’s always one of my favorites!

If you’re a photographer going back and forth on whether you should use a shot list or not, I would encourage you to capture the day as it naturally unfolds for your clients instead to referring to a list. There is a reason why your clients hired you. They trust you and your work. You’ve got this!

As photographers, we are able to get those ring shots and the “groom’s face as the bride comes down the aisle” shots by paying attention to what is happening around us. That is our job. To stay alert and pay attention so that we can capture those special moments.

We want all of our clients’ photos to be unique for them, don’t we? The moments photographers capture on a wedding day are very specific to that couple and that day. Think about it. Every single moment on a wedding day is only happening right then and then it’s gone forever. Let’s capture it! Let’s freeze that moment for our sweet couple! It would be such a shame to miss moments like in the photos below because we were looking down at a list. Trust me, I know from personal experience from when I first started shooting weddings. I don’t even want to know how many beautiful moments I missed due to constantly checking a list :(

*One thing you can do is ask your brides if they have a specific, unique shot(s) that they have their heart set on… one that you wouldn’t know anything about otherwise. I am always happy to bring a small list of a few unique special request shots from my clients! 

These photos below are moments that happened quickly and unannounced. These are moments that we may have, and probably would have, missed had we been focusing on a list instead of paying attention to what was going on around us.


Like I mentioned above, there is one type of list that we DO like to use weddings and that’s a family photo list. We find out what family photos our clients want well before the wedding day and we bring that list with us so that come family portrait time, the bride and groom don’t have to think about or worry about family photos. All they have to do is stand there and smile :) We’ve also found that having a family photo list really helps that family portrait time go quickly and smoothly because we are organized and know what family combinations the bride and groom want us to take.

So, yes, we use a family photo list (and we encourage you to do the same), but that’s it. We’re determined to capture as many special moments of our clients’ big day as we possibly can and we know we can best do that by paying attention to what is happening in front of us. We know our clients have hired us because they trust us to capture their day for them. What an honor! And the same goes for you, fellow photographer. Trust your instinct. Trust your skill. Capture those quick, fleeting, beautiful once in a lifetime moments for your sweet clients.


I told you that I had a FREE download for you guys and here it is!


Download our FREE printable/editable Standard Wedding Day Family Photo List that we use at every wedding we shoot HERE!


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destination wedding photographer, boutique photo editor, and coach to photographers

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