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thoughts on shot lists ~ a brief rant

There’s been some form of disconnect between some of the wedding websites and magazines and wedding photographers for a good bit regarding shot lists. 


I’m going to try, in my most politically correct and non-offensive manner (quit laughing, all of you) to bring some light to this topic. 


Ready? Here goes. 


Shot lists are to wedding photographers what explosive diarrhea is to a first date. 


I’m not entirely sure what intoxicated intern at what wedding magazine was the first to come up with the idea that possibly, just maybe, the majority of wedding photographers are absolutely clueless about what they’re doing and needed their help, but it’s gotten just a little bit out of hand. 

Basically, when you hand your photographer a pre-printed shot list off of a website or magazine or Pinterest or anywhere, it translates roughly into ” Hey, I’m fairly certain you have no idea what you’re doing, so here’s a list to help you, kthnksbye.”

And then our creative feelings get hurt. Because everything we wanted to do and create and make and be spontaneous with and fun just got smacked on the wrist and shoved into a pre-formed box. And you can’t shove creatives into a pre-formed box. They’ll be miserable, their work will start to suck, and if they’re hipsters, their bow-ties will start being crooked and they’ll actually start wearing pants that fit. 

Seriously. It’s that bad. 


The only shot lists I work with are lists of family members and specific groupings of family for the formal photos. The last thing I want is for my brides and grooms to have to stop and think about who needs to be in what picture immediately after their ceremony, so having that info before hand helps us all. As for actual shot lists of specific photos to take, I don’t work with those. If I’m busy spending your wedding day shooting off a recipe list of shots, I’m going to miss what’s actually going on around me. Now, the exception to that rule is if there’s something specific that I need to know about that needs to be in a photo, i.e. great grandma’s tooth is in the third calla lily to the left in the fourth bouquet on the altar. I’m going to need to know that information or else I’m probably going to miss that. 


It’s basically the same with Pinterest boards. I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. It’s awesome for inspiration, recipes, and looking at furniture I’ll never actually own. But when you put together your favorite 50 shots from 40 different photographers on Pinterest, and then hand that to your photographer and say, ” Here. Do this.”, it’s a huge kick in the creative bits and pieces. It takes zero amount of brainpower and creativity to copy someone else’s work, and most photographers with any ounce of self respect won’t do it. That said, inspiration and ideas? Absolutely. Bring them on. Taking several ideas from several shots and putting those together with your photographer and making something completely unique, sweet. Run with that. 


If you’re worried that your photographer may in fact be a complete and total imbecile, ask to see an entire wedding gallery before you hire them. Ask to see several.  You’ll know shots they take, shots they don’t take, and if they’re going to be a good fit. 


And if you’re a wedding blog or magazine that still shoves those lists upon brides, do yourselves a huge favor and actually ask wedding photographers what’s relevant before you make the list. Otherwise you just end up looking silly and we’ll write blog posts like this one telling our clients to ignore those lists. 







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