As you get closer to the wedding and – let’s be honest – you start to overthink everything, creating a shot list for your photographer might seem like a foolproof way to ensure every moment is captured, but here’s why that might not be the best approach. . .

No matter why you fell in love with your wedding photographer – their style of editing, composition, or their ability to capture beautiful and emotive candids – it’s likely that the work you’ve been admiring is NOT the product of an extensive, and frankly restrictive shot list from their clients. 

Photographers are artists, and like all artists, they thrive when given creative freedom. When confined to a strict and extensive shot list, they’re often so focused on ticking off items that they may miss spontaneous, raw moments – moments that often turn into the most cherished memories.

You’ve hired them because you admired their portfolio, resonated with their style, and trusted their expertise. A comprehensive shot list can inadvertently convey a lack of trust, which puts you both in an awkward spot. It’s essential to remember that they’ve shot many weddings and understand the key moments that need capturing. No need to tell them to get a shot of things like “bride walking down the aisle”, “first kiss”, “reception centerpieces”, etc.

So what should you do? 

  1. Tell your photographer if there are any unique or unexpected aspects of your wedding they may not know about, such as a hidden courtyard you love, or that you’re having a surprise performance from an aerial artist right after toasts. (Note – if you’re working with Water to Wine Events as your wedding planner, we’ll be sure to communicate any of these details and the ones mentioned in the next section to your photographer before the wedding day.)
  2. Let them know if there are any sentimental items or heirlooms you want captured, like your grandmother’s locket around your bouquet, or that you have the first love letter your fiance ever wrote to you and want it incorporated into detail shots.
  3. This is most important – create a list of each family grouping you’d like captured. This list should include everyone’s names and relation to the couple. 
    • You’ll also want to assign one person from each side of the family to be responsible for helping gather and organize everyone – your photographer can call out a list of names, but they don’t know everyone’s faces or have time to hunt them down if they strayed off to cocktail hour too soon.
    • Don’t over do it with post-ceremony family photos. They take MUCH longer than you might think, and may cut into your newlywed portraits. Estimate 4 minutes for every grouping.

So, how do you create your wedding shot list? *Below is an example of what our clients fill out.

*If your photographer has something for you to fill out, please use what they provide – they’re the experts and you should follow their process. Only they know how they work best.

If you haven’t already booked your Houston or Galveston wedding planner, be sure to contact us to get started!

October 8, 2023

Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Photographer a Shot List, and What You Should Do Instead

Planning Advice