How To Make A Wedding Photography Shot List Your Photographer Will Love


Good use of a wedding photography shot list for the photo of the wedding party

When you hear “Wedding Photography Shot List” you’re most likely going to go down the rabbit hole of writing out all the details of your wedding day you want to make sure aren’t missed. From the first kiss to the first dance, and 1,000 other moments in between. I’m here to tell you not to go down that path! If you’ve hired a professional photographer, they’ll know to take all those photos, and giving them a 4 page spreadsheet will most likely cause them to reach for the delete button.

So what should you give them? Let’s get into it!

The Do’s and Dont’s of a Wedding Photography Shot List

When creating a shot list, it’s important to know what to include and what not to include.


  1. Instruct your photographer to capture standard wedding events. These are a given and your photographer already knows to capture them.
  2. Give your photographer specific poses or setups to emulate. Your wedding photos should be unique, not a copy of something from Pinterest or Instagram. They’ll use their skill to find the best locations, and the best lighting using the environment you’re getting married in to create amazing photos that are original and unique to you.
  3. Expect your wedding photos to look exactly like any others. Your day is unique, and many factors will influence how your photos will turn out.


  1. Inform your photographer about who and what is most important to you.
  2. Collaborate on a photography timeline with your photographer and main vendors.
  3. Provide a list of family groupings you’d like photos of.
  4. Ask your parents what family photos are important to them.

Identifying Key Players

Your photographer won’t know most of the family and guests at your wedding, so you must point out the important people like parents, siblings, and close friends. Since they won’t recognize everyone, letting them know who your key people are helps make sure they focus on them for both the formal and candid shots. This might include your immediate family, your best friends, and any special guests who mean a lot to you. By doing this, you’re making sure the people who matter most to you get highlighted in your wedding photos, capturing those precious moments for years to come.

Navigating Family Dynamics

Family dynamics can get complicated, especially when there are sensitive issues like divorces or estrangements. These situations can affect how you organize family photos at big events. To make sure everything goes smoothly and comfortably on your big day, it’s a great idea to fill your photographer in on these details ahead of time. By doing this, you can help avoid any awkward or uncomfortable moments during your wedding day and especially during family formals.

wedding photography shot list helped make sure we got this bride portrait

Highlighting Personal Details

Your wedding is likely to feature unique elements that are close to your heart, like handmade centerpieces, family heirlooms, or even special decorations that tell a story. These details, whether they’re lovingly crafted by hand or passed down through generations, add a personal touch to your special day. It’s important to let your photographer know about these special touches. This way, they can give them the attention and focus they deserve in your photos. Sharing the stories behind these items can also help your photographer capture them in a way that reflects their significance to you.

Expecting the Unexpected

If your wedding features special traditions or cultural elements, it’s important to tell your photographer. This heads-up helps them get ready to capture these key moments authentically. Whether it’s a traditional dance, a cultural ceremony, or a family ritual, these elements are a big part of what makes your day special. Informing your photographer allows them to grasp their significance, ensuring your photos beautifully reflect the cultural depth and personal meaning of your wedding.

Planning for Surprises

Are you planning any surprise elements, like a secret dance or an impromptu toast, during your wedding? If so, sharing these plans with your photographer is a great idea. Giving them a heads-up about these surprise elements ensures that they are prepared and in the right spot to capture these exciting moments as they happen. By doing this, your photographer won’t miss out on these spontaneous and memorable parts of your celebration, ensuring that every unexpected smile, laugh, and emotion is beautifully captured in your wedding photos.

Embracing Authenticity

While communicating your preferences is important, it’s also key to avoid dictating specific poses or shots. Trust in your photographer’s professional expertise and creative vision to uniquely capture the essence of your day. Their experience and perspective can bring out the best in each moment, blending your ideas with their artistic style to create a truly distinctive and memorable photographic record of your special day.

Couple photos using a wedding photography shot list

Collaborating on the Timeline

Creating a photography timeline is crucial for your wedding day and your wedding photography shot list. This timeline must be a collaborative effort, involving not just you and your photographer, but also your main vendors. Working together ensures that the day’s schedule is well-organized and flows smoothly, facilitating the capture of all the significant moments. This coordination helps avoid any rush or missed opportunities, allowing your photographer to seamlessly blend into the day’s events and capture the memories as they naturally unfold.

Creating the Family Shot List

An organized list of family groupings is vital for your photographer to effectively manage the family photo session. When creating this list, it’s important to take into account the size of your family. Be sure to include not just immediate family members, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and any other significant relatives or close friend groups you want to be photographed. This comprehensive list helps your photographer understand the family dynamics and ensures that no important group or individual is overlooked during the photo session.

Trusting in Your Photographer’s Artistic Vision

You selected your photographer for their distinctive style and creative vision. Place your trust in their expertise to capture your day in a manner that is not only beautiful but also uniquely reflective of you.

Bringing it All Together

Creating a wedding photography shot list is much more than just ticking boxes. It’s about collaborating with your photographer to capture the true spirit of your big day. Remember, a professional photographer brings not only their camera but also a keen eye for detail, an understanding of light, and the ability to see the beauty in spontaneous moments.

Your job is to provide them with the context they need. Inform them about the key people in your life, the family dynamics that might need navigating, and the special details and traditions that make your wedding uniquely yours. Be open about any surprises planned so they can be ready to capture those moments. But, most importantly, trust in their ability to tell your story. These memories will vividly portray the genuine emotions, deep relationships, and those special, unseen moments that truly characterize the uniqueness of your special day.

So, embrace the process, collaborate closely with your photographer, and let them work their magic. This way, when you flip through your wedding album years from now, you’ll be transported back to those precious moments, feeling the love and laughter as if it were yesterday. Let your wedding photography shot list be the foundation upon which these timeless memories are built.