A wedding should be one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life. Capturing moments from this most memorable day is the responsibility of a wedding photographer. How does a photographer ensure they get each and every moment? By creating a wedding photo shot list. Let’s take a look at how to create a wedding photographer shot list and the things to consider when planning your shoot.
Creating a Wedding Photo Shot List
Wedding photo shot list preparation
Creating a wedding photographer shot list is in and of itself great preparation. But great wedding photographers prepare for making their shot list.
Meeting with the couple
Having an appointment with the soon to be newlyweds can be extremely valuable. It’s a great way to understand their expectations, get a better idea of the wedding plans, and gain information to create your wedding photo shot list
Some questions to consider asking them:
What is the agenda of the day?
Are there any unique activities or moments to capture?
What style of photography do you love?
Do you have any references for newlywed portraits?
Who are the family members and what group portraits would you like?
Asking these questions while simultaneously giving guidance to your clients will make them feel like they are in good hands and will make you feel more prepared when the big day comes.
Scout the venue
Like any shoot, scouting the location is always a benefit. It will give you a better visual idea of what type of space you have to work with. Of course, it’s not always possible to physically see the venue you are shooting. However, you can research the venue through Google photos, the venue’s website, or searching past weddings shot at that location.
Having a second shooter will ultimately come down to the photography package your clients select. If you do work with a second shooter, it’s important to know before creating your wedding shot list so that shots can be separated between first and second shooter.
Using a shot listing software
Once you have all the necessary information to create your wedding photographer shot list it’s time to put it all together. Doing so can be a lot easier by using a shot listing software. We used StudioBinder’s free shot listing app to create our example wedding photographer shot list below.
As you can see from our example wedding day shot list above, there are several categories to consider when thinking of must have shots. Let’s take a closer look at each.
How to Create a Wedding Shot List
Before any guests arrive or the wedding couple get ready, it's important to capture the wedding details. These detail shots are shots that should be styled almost in a similar way to editorial photography.
Wedding details can vary from wedding to wedding, but generally there are a few details to think of when creating this section of the shot list.
Wedding Dress, Suit
Accessories: cufflinks, shoes, watches, ties
Flower arrangements, bouquets, corsages
Wedding programs, signs, invitations
While most of these details are taken before the day even starts, there are many “detail” style images to keep in mind during the ceremony and reception. We’ll talk about those a bit later.
Wedding Photo Shot List Tutorial
Moments getting ready
Once the wedding couple starts getting ready, there are moments to capture. Typically, the couple will get ready separately with their respective groomsmen and bridesmaids. This is usually a fun process of getting into dresses, suits, make up, etc.
Shot listing this process can be a bit more general since this process will typically allow for more time to shoot. Find fun moments between the bride(s) and/or groom(s) and their wedding party.
Categories in photo shot list for wedding
After the wedding couple gets ready, there are still a few moments to capture before the ceremony. There are a few first look moments to capture depending on the newlywed couple.
First look between the couple alone
Bridesmaids with bride(s)
Groomsmen with groom(s)
Father first look with bride(s)
These moments are all about emotion. There are many moments during a wedding day that you only have one shot at. The first look between a wedding couple is one of them. Make sure you have it shot listed to remember to capture this key moment.
Creating a Wedding Photo Shot List
Like the couple’s first look, the entire wedding ceremony is composed of moments you have one shot at. Creating a wedding shot list will remind you of which vital moments to capture and be prepared to shoot. Here are some key moments to consider shot listing.
Guests arriving/greeting each other
Groom and groomsmen waiting
Bridal party entrance
Bride walking down the aisle
Parent(s) giving away the bride
Weddings in general, but the ceremony particularly, are all about capturing emotion. Capturing emotion as a wedding photographer is all about anticipating when it will occur. These moments above are all great to shot list because they allow you to frame the shot just before the moment happens.
Right after the ceremony, it's important to grab the newlyweds for their first portraits as a married couple. Because it will be difficult to grab alone time with the couple for the rest of the day, this is a great time to get these shots. Not to mention, the emotion of the ceremony will carry over into your shoot with them, lending itself to some genuine and romantic portrait photography.
These newlywed portraits can be more posed and allow for more direction. Because of this, it's beneficial to shot list any newlywed references the couple may have given you during your initial meeting. These references should be focused on poses the couple loves.
Categories of Photo Shot List for Wedding
Next to capture are the group portraits. These group shots are different group combinations with the newlywed couple. Often, these are primarily immediate family members and the wedding party. Here are a few group combinations to consider shot listing.
Couple with each set of parents
Couple with both parents
Couple with bride’s immediate family
Couple with groom’s immediate family
Couple with bridesmaids
Couple with groomsmen
Couple with whole wedding party
Bride(s) with maid of honor
Goom(s) with best man
Again, understanding the dynamics of the couple’s family members as well as which ones they wish to be in their group portraits should be communicated in the initial meeting with your clients. These will be shot listed so that the process of organizing each group photo is smooth and clear.
Shot List for Wedding Photographer
Finally, it is often a bit more relaxed but equally important. Shooting the reception can, for the most part, be more free flowing as you follow the energy, emotion and action. However, there are a few moments that should still be shot listed for the reception.
Details of tables, wedding cake, food, wedding party table, party favors, etc.
Entrance of wedding party and newlywed couple
Newlyweds’ first dance
Bride(s) and/or groom(s) dance with parent
Tossing the bouquet
Weddings are a day of fun, emotion, stress, and life long memories. They can be an incredibly overwhelming event to capture. However, with a bit of preparation and a solid wedding shot list capturing the love of joy of a wedding day can be a bit easier. Knowing what shots are must have can give you a better chance at creating some beautiful photographs that a couple will cherish for the rest of their life.
How to Create a Portrait Shot List
Shooting a wedding entails shooting portrait photography. If you’re looking for ways to uplevel your portrait photography in or outside of weddings, give our next article a read.