Earlier this year, there was an article on The Knot blasting a bride for sending their wedding photographer a 5 page shot list and threatening to withhold payment if they did not capture every single photo they requested. Top wedding publications, including The Knot, keep encouraging brides to send ridiculous shot lists to their wedding photographers and it has to stop!! If you feel the need to send a 5+ page shot list to your wedding photographer, that’s a clear sign that you do not trust them to do their job as a professional. Whether that’s true or not, receiving a tedious shot list like that is an absolute slap in the face… and it makes us question why you even hired us in the first place.
And we don’t get offended because we’re being arrogant. It’s because we do this every weekend and we know that this is not how wedding photography works. A wedding day is NOT a scavenger hunt. It’s a dynamic, unique event with a TON of moving parts. In order to do our job well, we need to stay present, in the moment, and document everything that is actually happening on your wedding day… not trying to check off super specific photos from a generic shot list that may or may not even happen on your own unique wedding day.
Most brides and grooms underestimate how tiring a wedding day actually is. Your shot list may not seem too lengthy when you compile it but, as professionals who do this every weekend, we know that people get tired of taking photos VERY quickly. Especially when it’s super hot or super cold outside. People get antsy, people’s faces and cheeks start to hurt… no one wants to stand around taking photos for hours on end. Not even the bride + groom! You don’t need to photograph every grouping of people imaginable. More importantly, there usually isn’t enough time to photograph every grouping of people. Trust me: you will be over taking photos pretty quickly on your wedding day. Everyone is.
A good wedding photographer will ask you to list out important groups of friends + family that you want photos with… but you should really limit those formal groupings to 10-15 groups max. Anything more than that gets cumbersome and frustrating for everyone involved. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand.
Aside from ridiculously extensive shot lists, another common issue that I’ve seen lately is clients trying to dictate specific locations for photos. This drives me NUTS because there are so many variables that go into choosing a “good” location for photos. Your photographer has created a unique style to their work and it’s 100% based on how they use light in their work. The very reason you probably hired your photographer is because you like how “bright and airy” or how “dark and moody” their photography is… and their style is entirely dependent on location selection and lighting. Please please please trust your photographer with locations on your wedding day. They are the experts and they know what they need to create the type of photos you hired them to create for you. If you dictate where they are shooting and in what lighting conditions they are shooting, your photos WILL NOT look like everything else they have previously created. And you will most likely be disappointed in your wedding photos… all because you insisted on being the art-director instead of them.
Before booking any of your wedding vendors, you should be well versed in their working style, approach to the wedding day, personality, and quality of work. If you have any concerns about their professionalism, DO NOT BOOK THEM!! You should only be hiring people you completely trust and that’s especially true with your wedding photographer. Look at their work, check out FULL galleries to see how they cover an entire wedding day, talk to them on the phone or in person, make sure you understand their vision and their process… and make sure it lines up with what you envision for your wedding day. I do my best work when clients give me the freedom to do what I do best.
You shouldn’t ever feel the need to micromanage your wedding vendors. They are all professionals and you should listen to their advice as it pertains to their specialty. Listen to your hair + makeup artist because they will be able to give you the right hairstyle + makeup based on your complexion, bone structure, dress style, color scheme, etc. They are trained to take into account a lot of different elements to give you the best look on your big day. Trust your planner to advise you on the flow of your ceremony + reception, your decor, your style + aesthetic, and all of the little details of your wedding day because this is where their expertise lies. Trust your photographer when it comes to your photo timeline, locations for your photos, and suggestions for the flow of things prior to your ceremony. This is where we shine! Trust your florist to understand your vision and bring your vision to life instead of asking them to recreate Pinterest photos. It’s all about TRUST, ladies!
Bottom line: your wedding vendors will do their best work if you trust them. They will go above and beyond for clients who are gracious, grateful, and trusting.
You’ve hired professionals for your wedding day. Let them do what they do best. If you do question them or doubt their abilities, then you need to really ask yourself why you hired them in the first place. If you’re discovering that it’s maybe not a good fit anymore, it’s okay to part ways! I’d honestly rather part ways with someone who doesn’t completely trust me than shoot their wedding, knowing that they definitely don’t trust me. I would rather they find someone they DO trust! We, as professionals, cannot do our best work if we know that our clients have doubts about us. It makes us second guess ourselves and play it safe. Our creativity soars when clients give us the freedom to create!
Look at it this way. You wouldn’t go to a fancy restaurant and hand the chef a recipe, telling him/her how to prepare his/her signature dish. You wouldn’t go to a doctor and tell him/her what your own diagnosis is. You wouldn’t go to a lawyer and tell him/her how to argue your case in court. In your own profession, you’d be pretty upset if someone with zero experience in what you do told you how to do your job. Your wedding vendors should have years of experience within their field and that experience is invaluable. Trust their experience. You should feel taken care of, knowing that your vendors are always going to be advocating for you and making decisions that are in your best interests. At the end of the day, we all want our clients to be happy! If you find yourself compiling ridiculous shot lists, Pinterest boards full of specific poses or locations, or dictating the timeline of your own wedding day… do everyone a favor and take a breath. Ask yourself “do I really trust my wedding team to take care of me and do their job?” If the answer is yes, throw everything away and relax. We’ve got you! But if you answer no, it’s time to part ways and keep looking for vendors you really trust. You’ll be very glad you did because peace of mind on the wedding day is priceless.
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