This is a question that so many wedding photographers are asked during consultations: “Do you shoot from a shot list?” To be honest, the answer is no, but I’ve thought through this very thoroughly as to why I do not ask for a shot list (or use one). These are just 4 reasons why I prefer not to use one, and why you should prefer not to use one too:
1. It limits my creativity. If you send me a list of every pose that you want or every moment you want captured, then you are not trusting me to capture your day in the best way possible. Hopefully, you hired me as a wedding photographer because you like my work. And if that’s the case, then my posing, editing style, your experience, etc will be very consistent across all of my sessions. By providing me with a shot list, I cannot fully do my job as a photographer and create beautiful images if I’m too focused on getting you posed exactly the same way as your Pinterest inspiration board.
2. Using a shot list sets unrealistic expectations for both you and for me. Having a giant list of pictures you expect me to capture (that honestly may not even happen) creates an extra amount of stress that isn’t needed on a wedding day. There are so many moving parts to a wedding that contribute to your photography, and if we are so focused on posing to your shot list, you will not have fun and we will likely run out of time (therefore missing your expectations due to lack of time).
3. I aim to capture memories, not create them. If you send me a shot list that includes “bride kissing her father as she and her new husband walk down the aisle,” I cannot 1) guarantee that you will do that and 2) recreate that after the fact. My goal as a wedding photographer is to capture your special day in a way that candidly tells your love story. If I am constantly creating moments that could have otherwise happened on their own, then I’m not telling your story how it authentically happened. I’m telling someone else’s story where you are just playing the main character. (Hopefully that analogy made sense haha)
4. While I am not opposed to a few Pinterest inspiration images, that can be a dangerous path to walk down for so many reasons. For one, I can 100% guarantee that your images will not turn out looking exactly like the images you found on Pinterest. There are different people, different lighting conditions, different locations, different photographers, and so many more differences. Due to these factors, it is extremely important that you use Pinterest as a “style” inspiration guide rather than a pose inspiration guide. This will help you to have less expectations that your images will look like those you find on Pinterest, and more expectations that your session will reflect your relationship with your future hubby authentically.
Wow, that was a lot! I could go on and on about this topic, but I won’t. I shared all of these reasons why I don’t shoot from a shot list but there is actually one part of the day where I actually encourage it: and that’s during the family formals. During this part of the day, it is extremely important to be quick and efficient while making sure that we don’t leave anyone important out. These pictures may be the last professional images of some of your older relatives, so it is important that we take time to outline this part of the day. I am intentional about creating this list with my brides before the wedding so that we are both confident that we’re capturing the family pictures that are going to be the most important to you.
Well, next time when you ask a photographer to shoot from a shot list, I hope that these 4 reasons come to mind. Trust us, you’ll love your images more if we authentically capture who you are, not just what you think looks good.