February 8, 2019

Wedding Photography Shot List | Do You Need One?

Wedding Photography Shot List–Is it necessary?

At some point in the Wedding planning process, couples begin to wonder how they will get all the photos they want during the wedding.  The question invariably pops up, “Do we need a Wedding Photography shot list?”  Many blogs and publications will make you think this is something you definitely need.  But do you?

Candid vs. Posed Wedding Photos

I would say approximately 25-30% of every wedding I photograph is posed, more formal photos.  Whether they are the family groups or traditional bridal portraits, these types of wedding photos are important.  However, I do also love capturing the candid moments in a more photojournalistic way, and those are generally not scripted.

CT Destination Wedding Photographer
Candid wedding photos will always hold a special place in my heart. But there is definitely a place for some posed shots.
Fairfield CT Wedding Photos
There is definitely a place for posed formal portraits of the bridal party.

Formal Wedding Photos and Groups

As a working wedding photographer for many years, I do always appreciate a list of important family group images that you definitely want to have.  It helps make the family formal portion of the day go way faster if we know ahead of time how many groups and which family and friends are included.  It is a bonus if there is a person for each side who has a copy of the list and can help us gather people–after all, we do not know who your aunt from California is or what she looks like.  One of my recent brides even did an Excel Spreadsheet and it made the formals fly by.  Just make sure to be open to other possibilities as well as what is on the list.

Wedding Photography Shot List
This image was captured during the family formals portion of the day–I turned around and saw this and took the image. Not on the wedding photo shot list.
Park City Utah Bridal Party Photo
This was definitely posed because I wanted everyone in the photo to look their best. The light was perfect to backlight this gorgeous lace train!  I like this image because it is not a “typical” bridal party image with everyone looking forward and cheesing for the camera.

However, when it comes to a 10 page list of every image imaginable, not so much.  When you hire your wedding photographer, you should be confident that they will know that you need photos say of the Bride alone, Bride with Groom, etc.  If you have hired someone who does not understand that, I will gently say that perhaps that person is not really qualified to photograph a wedding.

I know, for example, that I need to create images of the Bride alone on the wedding day.  I do both traditional portraits and something a little more creative for variety.

Saratoga Bride Photo
Definitely posed and lit. Because it shows the girl and the dress to perfection.
Saratoga Springs NY Adelphi Hotel Weddng Photo
Another more traditional bridal portrait at the Adelphi. Most people getting married at that venue want at least a few images in front of the hotel because it is a landmark.
Lake George Wedding Photos
I know I need to create images of the Bride alone. Sometimes Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into the plans.  What we did not plan on was a torrential downpour. So we adapted and used this picture window at the Ft William Henry.  Shows the lake and the steamboat, but from a different perspective.
Park City Utah Bridal Image
A candid moment during the ceremony–but the lighting is still good, as is expression. Even with candids I try to pay close attention to lighting and expression.

Weddings and Pinterest

What about Pinterest you ask?  I am always happy to take a peek at your Pinterest Boards.  It will help me understand what style of photography you gravitate toward.  However, I honestly do not want to spend the entire day recreating 300 images that other photographers have made already.  I am happy to use those inspiration images as a jumping off point, but let’s use them as what they are intended for–inspiration.  Let’s go off and create something unique to you.  After all, the day is about you–not some random couple you have never even met.

Destination Wedding Ceremony Photos Miami Beach
One of my all time favorite candid shots at a wedding ceremony in Miami on the beach. Not on any shot list.
Canoe Island Lodge Wedding Reception Photos
Candid reception photos are pretty free form and not on a shot list per se.

All this is not to say that I never accept input from my couples.  I am always up for trying different things.  I just personally do not want to be a slave to a shot list.  I think any creative person you hire would feel the same way.

Saratoga Springs Wedding Photo
Fun with off camera strobe and trying something a little different.

Did you find this post on wedding photo shot lists helpful?  Do you think you will use a Wedding Photography Shot List at your wedding?  You might also like this article on Wedding Planning.

Be sure to visit our Wedding Photography Portfolio.  Ready to book a consultation?  Give us a call at (518) 584-4237 or use our Contact Form.

Saratoga NY based Wedding Photographer Susan Blackburn has been serving Wedding Couples in the Capital District of Upstate NY for over 20 years.




Excellent post. I’m going through some of these issues as well..

Good to know this was helpful to you.