Many popular wedding websites tell you that as you are searching for a wedding photographer, you need to ask them this question: Do you use shot lists? In this Client Education Guide, we are going to take a closer look at this concept of a shot list, the different ways this question can be interpreted, and if you should find a photographer that uses them.

Asking about shot lists when interviewing potential photographers.

Most photographers now anticipate this question in meeting new clients, however, answers may vary from photographer to photographer. So why are reactions or answers so varied between photographers when it comes to shot lists?

Bad experiences.

Think about your own career. If you are asked to do something in a particular way and are then later harshly criticized for the final result, you'll likely not feel very excited to be asked to execute the project in the same way again. The same goes for photographers. If the photographer you are chatting with reacts strongly about not using shot lists, it may be from a less than positive experience with a former client.

Creative restriction.

Some photographers may feel their creativity is restricted when handed a shot list. From the photography standpoint, your wedding is an opportunity to capture your love in a beautiful light. It can be difficult to do this if also going back and forth from a reference list.

is not using a shot list a deal breaker?

The photographer you are chatting with may say they will not use a shot list. So, ultimately you have a decision to make. Our recommendation is to ask to see a full gallery or two and assess their work as a whole. Their site may be full of blog posts or beautiful images, but a full gallery will show you the vibes they capture from an entire day - not just the curated moments for their website.

A new approach to shot lists.

So where is the happy medium between photographers not wanting to use the shot lists that every client thinks are a non-negotiable. Here's a peek at what we do!

Family portraits.

Family portraits are an important part to your wedding day. It's not often that so many people come together in their best clothes, right? We ask our clients to compile a list of what formal family portraits they want captured. We don't know the relationships you cherish most, so for the sake of time and efficiency, a list is important. By handing us a list, we can shout out names and get everyone in place far quicker than if you are on the spot thinking of which combinations of relatives you want captured. Family portraits are a time that we are not going to get super creative with a lot of different angles, it is about capturing who was their to support you! This form of a shot list is very important for us!


We share with our clients that they are welcome to share a shot list for us to use as inspiration. We ask our clients to also share with us if they have any items with important stories behind them (such as a family heirloom or jewelry passed down from a relative) or elements that are unique to their wedding day (think things others may not do at their wedding, such as jumping the broom or hand-fasting). This way, we can be sure these items are spotlighted and are key in capturing your story fully. This is especially important for ceremony-specific details. These only happen once, so we want to be as prepared as possible!

Our opinion is that a shot list won't tell us what is important to your story! Having open communication with our clients helps us capture these important shots, not a list. You're free to send us your Pinterest board or document with items you want captured, but they will be used for inspiration only. Your day and story deserves to be captured for what it is - not what someone else planned for their day.