The only “shot list” your photographer needs

photographer shot list

Sunday, September 20th, 2020



It’s one of the first suggestions on most wedding blogs regarding a photographer – give them a shot list. Usually developed as a play by play list of things you want photographed, this list can include things like “couple getting dressed” or “first kiss” and similar.

However, basically any experienced wedding photographer is going to tell you that the list isn’t needed. Experienced wedding photographers know the flow of a wedding. They are skilled at anticipating what comes next.

Many of the things on these lists supplied by blogs are things that naturally happen at weddings. Items such as “couple walking back up the aisle” and “people on the dancefloor”. Any wedding photographer is going to know to photograph these things, so working off of a list is going to become more of a distraction.

There is a list you should give your photographer, however.

The only shot list your photographer needs

If you have any family heirlooms or special events, let your photographer know ahead of time. Also, fill out a family portrait list with the names of people in each grouping. Having these items that are truly specific to you will help your photographer understand what’s important. Also, by having the names of everybody in the family groupings, that portion will go smoothly. They’ll be able to call out names and organize people more efficiently.

My clients fill out a questionnaire 3 months before their wedding detailing items like this. This question includes their family list, heirlooms, items specific to their relationship. This questionnaire plays a huge role in the thoroughness of photographing their wedding and knowing what’s the most important thing to them (hint: it’s always the people).

So skip the copy-and-pasted shot list from a blog for your photographer. Instead build one from the things that truly matter to you. If your photographer works by seeing what unfolds naturally at your event, you’ll receive images far more meaningful to you. The resulting photographs will be more valuable than if your photographer is off working from a list of things that have less meaning.

Wondering what my questionnaire is like? Curious what working with a documentary photography is like?

Let’s talk more details. Hit that inquiry page and let’s see what images we can create together (without a shot list).


Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.


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