Wedding planning: the shot list

May 20, 2016

The other day we received an email from a bride about 4 months before her wedding asking an honest question:  I’ve heard that it’s good to throw a list of desired shots for the photographer. Would that be helpful? If so, when would you like to have it by?”

This question pops up all the time – from parents, planners, and clients.  A similar question is “should I put together a Pinterest board?”

When I put myself in your shoes, it makes perfect sense to put together a list of photographs – our culture loves lists!  And it’s a great way to feel prepared.

When it comes to our approach to wedding photography – fine-art, documentary wedding photography – there’s a right and wrong way to put together this kind of wedding photography list.


Lists can be helpful, but there is a good chance that we’ll miss important moments if we’re stuck checking off a list on the wedding day (only one of these photographs was planned for – can you guess which one? Hint: it’s in color.)

The worst thing you can do is copy and paste a list from some random source on the internet.  It’s simply thoughtless, and you’ll end up with a thoughtless collection of photographs.  The next worst thing you can do is ask someone else for a list.

The best list is in the most obvious place – within you!  A great way to figure out what photographs are the most important is by asking yourself simple questions that often get overlooked during planning:  What are you most looking forward to about your wedding day?  Who are you most looking forward to seeing?  What makes your wedding day special to you?

If we spend your wedding day reading huge lists of photographs, we’d not be doing what we do best:  being present to focus on the moments, relationships, and all the exchange of feelings on your wedding day.  We believe that these moments are what make photographs timeless.


You can plan for a moment you know you’re going to love (left – first look), but sometimes the most interesting things happen without any kind of plan (right – what is this kid doing?!)

So don’t sweat it too much when it comes to lists.  Think of a few “must have” photographs, tell us what you’re most looking forward to, and then let us take care of being present on your wedding day.

Oh, and our take on Pinterest?  We love seeing your inspiration boards, but remember that Pinterest is a collaboration of thousands upon thousands of photographers and artists witnessing countless unique wedding day settings and personalities.  And you’ve just stuck all that onto one page of Pinterest.  AND you want it all on your one wedding day!

As good of artists as we are, we could never replicate the work of all those artists on your 8 or 10 hour wedding day!  You like that redwood forest ceremony location, but you’re getting married in a church?  Not gonna happen!  Lusting over the warm glow of a setting sun bathing the portraits of a newly-wed couple, but you’ve scheduled portraits on your wedding day at 1pm?  Again, not going to happen!

Simply put, be realistic with what you’re asking yourself and your wedding photographer (and friends, and vendors, and everyone!)  Focus on what matters and what we can do to make that happen on your wedding day.


Let us know what’s important to you and we’ll focus on that! For Lauren (on the right), photographs of subtle and intimate moments between her and her husband on their wedding day were important – I think we nailed it!


  1. Pedro Bellido

    A very useful post! I will definitely use it. Thanks for sharing!

    • ThisIS

      Hey thanks so much Pedro – really beautiful work on your website…where are you from?!


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