I am VERY passionate about this topic, so I apologize in advance if this post offends anyone. I know that some trusted wedding resources recommend giving your wedding photographer a super detailed shot list before your big day. You see posts like this all the time. But honestly, the worst thing you could possibly do is send your wedding photographer a multi-page, super detailed list of “must have” photos for your wedding day!!
First of all, whether you mean to or not, you’re going to offend your wedding photographer. Do you really think that they don’t know to take a photo of you + your maid of honor? Or a photo of your invitation suite? Or a photo of your first kiss? If you honestly feel like you have to tell them to photograph these very basic things, you probably should have hired a different wedding photographer – one that you completely trust to capture those super obvious wedding day photos. I tell clients all the time that they need to find a photographer they trust… and if you really feel the need to send them pages of photo requests, it’s a clear signal that you don’t trust them to do their job and document your day.
Second, let’s be 100% honest… wedding days are HECTIC!! Detailed shot lists do not make logistical sense. Bottom line: there just isn’t time to go on a scavenger hunt of photo requests or flip through pages of “must have” photos, figure out what we’ve taken, and what still needs to be done. You can plan all you want, but nothing ever goes as planned on a wedding day. Hair + makeup runs late, bouquets + boutonnieres aren’t delivered on time, your maid of honor doesn’t want to do robe photos because she’s not finished with hair + makeup yet, your mom is MIA, the groomsmen are all over the place, it’s raining, you forgot to bring the groom’s details for me to photograph in the morning, the best man has your wedding band so we can’t take photos of it… it all happens and we HAVE to have the freedom to improvise. Shot lists do not allow us to improvise. Instead, shot lists restrict our ability to do what we do best… which is think on our feet and go with the flow!
The fact of the matter is that time is a precious commodity on a wedding day. There is usually just enough time for photographers to capture what they normally do… so adding massive amounts of photos on top of that is a very tall order. A super detailed shot list may not seem unrealistic to you, but remember… you’ve never done this before. Your photographer has. And they know what is feasible and what’s not on the wedding day. If we needed or wanted massive shot lists from clients, we’d ask for them. But we don’t because we know they aren’t realistic. Most clients don’t anticipate how crazy the day will be and that’s why we, as photographers, do our best to educate our clients. So my best piece of advice is not to overwhelm or doubt your wedding photographer by sending them a multi-page detailed shot list. It will 100% throw them off of their game.
Every wedding is different. Every client is different. And you should choose a photographer that you trust to capture the day entirely, as it happens. Sending them pages upon pages of photo requests is only going to overwhelm your photographer and inhibit their ability to capture the day organically. Instead of being in the moment and capturing real moments + reactions, your photographer will be focused on the shot list of things that may or may not even naturally happen. At the same time, they’ll be stressed out over the shot list – which will throw them off of their game. They won’t be as present as they normally are and that WILL be reflected in your final gallery. Instead of seeing and documenting your day through their artistic eyes, using their unique perspective and artistry to tell the story of your day, they will be documenting off of a standardized shot list or shooting in a way that isn’t natural to them. You chose your wedding photographer for a reason. Let them do their thing!
If you want your photographer to perform to the best of their abilities, give them the freedom to do their job without the constraints of a super detailed shot list. You’ll be happy you did. Some of my best work has come when I know, without a doubt, that my clients trust me and give me the creative freedom to do what I do best! I am inspired by their confidence and push myself harder to create something amazing for them. If I have any fear that my clients don’t trust me, I start to doubt myself, make decisions that I normally wouldn’t, and my work isn’t nearly as inspired. I start to second guess myself and lose confidence, which can lead to mediocre work. If you have any doubts or questions about your photographers ability to capture your day without the guidance of a super detailed shot list, you should DEFINITELY find a new photographer. On your wedding day, you should have someone on your team that you love, trust, and have confidence in… you deserve that.