I’m usually the first person to think most of the “must do this and that for your wedding” lists online are not always realistic and should be taken with a grain of salt. The topic of using wedding photography shot lists comes up frequently in those discussions. I understand it’s an organizational tool, which organization is commendable. The scales can easily tip from organization to micro managing if you over do it. Let me show you a sample of a wedding photography shot list I found on Google images.

using wedding photography shot lists

What style of wedding photographers are using wedding photography shot lists?

Mostly traditional or contemporary portraiture style wedding photographers use shot lists extensively. I’m not saying it’s wrong, it’s just a different approach from mine, as a documentary wedding photographer. Moments of the day are often kept up with this way throughout. Many photos are orchestrated with guests and wedding parties to make sure they get done. I just know that if I tried to work of a list, especially a list this long or longer, I’d want to stab myself in the eye with a plastic spork. LOL!

Why I don’t use shot lists-

My approach is to capture the clients’ wedding day in journalistic fashion. Natural, intimate, and organic, as the day unfolds. I don’t move things or orchestrate moments. Also, most documentary / photojournalist wedding photographers only do limited portrait work at weddings so there is more time to do what we do best. If I had to keep referring to a list to make sure I got “everything” (which I never would) , I’d miss more real moments because I’d be more worried about the list. I get that the couple is just trying to be organized. But you can’t know exactly how the day will flow and what all the people will do. You can’t anticipate moments that just happen. I watch for them. Moments like this.

People aren’t finger puppets. Whether a creative service provider you hire, or guests at a wedding. You can’t stage the best moments that happen, only organize the events schedule. It should be common sense that you want photos of the couple cutting the cake and first dance, etc. Hire a wedding photographer based on how you love how they document an event. Because a list doesn’t make the wedding unfold that way.

Synopsis- Evaluate expectations and realities, work with vendors who you are compatible with whose vision and approach matches yours.