Bringing Your Fairytale to Life - the Shot List

I recently came across a Facebook post in a wedding group where the bride was asking for advice on what to include in her shot list. While there were some helpful comments, the majority of them were not. As a wedding photographer, I was very tempted to comment in an attempt to defend some of the photographers who were unknowingly being bashed by their clients (or the clients’ parents as was more often the case). Unfortunately, there were just too many negative and uninformed comments that I couldn’t hope to address them all. So instead of commenting, I decided to add the topic to my wedding planning blog series.

And here we are.

So what should you include in your shot list? First, let’s talk about what not to include.

Shot list Do-Nots:

  • Itemized list of every picture possible

  • Picture ideas outside of your photographer's specialty

That's it. Those are my two things you should not put on your shot list. And here are some reasons why.

An experienced professional photographer will already know what standard shots to get without needing a physical list to refer to. So you really don't need to give them a detailed list of every picture you can think of. In a way, it's setting your photographer up for failure. If you're afraid your photographer won't get the important shots, you create a self-fulfilling prophesy by giving them an impossible to complete list. Because sometimes, due to time restraints or unforeseen circumstances or even stylistic reasons, it's not always possible to get every picture asked for.

And speaking of style, it's one of the main things to consider while hiring your photographer. Your photographer will have a certain way of shooting and doing their work. You shouldn't approach a natural-light photographer with an idea that requires extensive strobe lighting and you shouldn't expect an editorial photographer to shoot your wedding with a photojournalistic approach.

It all comes back to knowing what you want and choosing your photographer accordingly. When you meet with a potential photographer for the first time (and I recommend that you do if possible), the photographer should be able to explain their workflow. When I meet with my clients I explain how I work, how I like to approach each part of the day, and what my shooting style is. However, not every photographer approaches a wedding the way we at Cyn Davis Photography do. It's so important to discuss what you want and what your expectations are.

The photographer you hire should be able to give you absolute confidence in their ability to capture the day without feeling like you need to micromanage them.

If you have doubts after talking to a photographer, you should politely inform them that you don't think it's a good fit and start looking at other options.

Consider the following list and whether or not they are important to you. These are things most people don't think about asking when meeting a photographer:

  • Do you photograph the bride before she gets ready to walk down the aisle?

  • Do you photograph the recessional?

  • Do you photograph the receiving line?

  • Do you photograph the cocktail hour?

  • Do you photograph during dinner/the food?

  • Do you photograph guests who aren't dancing? Is it candid or do you ask for them to smile at the camera?

Now let's say your photographer meets all your expectations and you're excited to work with them. Should you give them a shot list? I would say yes, but not every photographer appreciates getting a shot list from their clients. It's definitely something you should ask about. Suppose though, that you hire Cyn Davis Photography. Should you create a shot list?


In fact, it is standard procedure for me to email my clients a wedding day questionnaire that includes space for a shot list. However, we really only need a few things specifically written out for us.

So back to the original question: what should you include in your shot list?

Shot List Do's:

  • List important details, such as the charm on your bouquet or the chair left empty to honor a passed loved one

  • List of family groups and any other important people you want a picture with

  • List of non-standard key moments, like your aunt celebrating her birthday or your parents sharing a special anniversary dance.

  • Any photo recreations from your parents' wedding

  • What pictures you are most looking forward to, such as portraits or the getting ready pictures.

It's always nice to have prior notice of non-standard events and details, so that's something we do ask for written on our shot list. Also, when it comes to client ideas for portraits or specific shots, we are willing to attempt them as long as our clients understand that it will be done in our style. And at the end of the day, we never leave a wedding without checking in with the bride and groom about any final requests.

It's honestly all about good communication. We strive for an open line of communication with our clients so that we can meet their needs. We take pride in how we document weddings and it's our hope that our clients trust us and our creative vision with their precious memories.

If you'd like to meet up with us and discuss how we can tell your wedding story, contact us! We are nearly full for 2019 and already booking for 2020. We are vibrant wedding photojournalists based in Ohio and willing to travel.

#weddingplanning #OhioWeddingPhotographer #TravelWeddingPhotographer #WeddingShotList #SteubenvilleWeddingPhotographer #PittsburghWeddingPhotographer #VibrantWeddingPhotography #VibrantMoodyPhotography #WeddingPhotojournalism

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Wedding ring trio sitting on a pink rose in a colorful bouquet.


Steubenville, Ohio

(304) 919-1327

Office  Hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm

We are on location shooting during the weekends. Messages received during this time will get a response on the following business day.

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