Should I give my photographer a list of photographs?

..Why you don’t need to give your photographer a list of photographs

the short answer is No, you don’t need to. But DO communicate and tell them what’s important to you…

(p.s. scroll to the bottom of the post to see the kind of ‘copy and paste’ list I’m referring to)

I know you’re super-excited about your wedding.  There’s a lot of romance, love and fun ahead. There’s a lot to plan, a lot to organise. But you are hiring professionals (hopefully!). Professional florists, musicians, videographers, dress/suit suppliers, makeup/hair etc. And of course, photographers. They know their craft and have a lot of experience. You are hiring them not just to do a job, but to bring their experience, knowledge and professionalism to your wedding.

A professional photographer knows what needs to be captured and you should trust them to document the day. Of course there are certain moments where formal photographs need to be taken and a good photographer will sit down with the couple and go through who’s in those. But the rest of the time the photographer needs to be free to be creative. If someone is following a list of shots then you’ll get the list of shots. You won’t get those spontaneous moments, those people laughing, the kids being silly, the auntie giving you a hug, the groom giving the bride a sneaky kiss. They photographer using a list will spend the day ticking boxes.

Don’t worry about getting pictures of certain people. Just go over and chat with the people who you want captured and if the photographer didn’t spot you already then give them the nod. They’ll be over for a candid or even a posed shot with your friends. 

Lastly there is variation of the ‘shot list’ which is showing a photographer images by other photographers. Trying to replicate a shot has the same affect as working from a shot list. It kills creativity. Let your photographer work with you to capture YOUR wedding. 

Junebug Wedding blog wrote a much better piece about this subject here but my favorite excerpt is:

“Probably the most disappointing factor in a shot list is that a couple would want to replicate someone else’s wedding photos instead of having images that are uniquely their own. Your love, personalities, and style are what make your wedding day special. Forcing a photo you saw on a blog keeps you from living the candid moment in your day. You’ve spent all of this time building an extraordinary love, not to mention planning the celebration of your dreams, so live in the present — we hear it goes by pretty fast — and let your photographer capture what makes you shine.

After your wedding is over, the photos are what you keep to remember it by. The images you’ll cherish the most are the ones that remind you of the butterflies you had before your first look, the tears you shed walking down the aisle, and the excitement you shared after saying “I do.” It’s the feeling behind a photo that makes it so wonderful to look at, so give yourself the space on your wedding day to feel fully without faking it for the camera.” – Nicola from Junebug Weddings

So… after saying all that…. I’ll just add that it is really important that you hire a professional and take the time to chose someone who suits your style. They should then do the rest. You can read more on ‘How to choose a photographer’ here

In the mean time I think it’s important for me to say what you SHOULD do rather than what you shouldn’t. 

  • DO – take your time to choose the right photographer. One you can trust
  • DO – hire a professional, the friend with a nice camera won’t know this stuff
  • DO – make sure you meet with your photographer an give them all the details of the wedding
  • DO – highlight parts of the day that are important to you
  • DO – tell them if there is anyone special you need to capture (possibly include in the family photographs)
  • DO – don’t make lists (!)
  • DO – ask. If you’re not sure about anything at all then just ask. Give them a call.

Oh, one last thing… What sort of list are we talking about here? Well, here’s one that is guaranteed to drive your photographer nuts!

At the start of the day – bridal preparations

  • Bride and bridesmaids dresses and shoes shots – details and whole
  • Putting on makeup
  • Getting hair done
  • Getting dressed – buttoned, laced, putting shoes on
  • Details of jewellery, hair, veil, bouquet
  • Bride with bridesmaids
  • Bride with mum
  • Dad’s first look at bride
  • Bridal portraits – face, dress, window, waiting, smiling, smelling flowers
  • Bridal party leaving the house, getting into car
  • Bride with dad in the car
  • Bridal party arriving at the ceremony venue

 

If there is a second photographer – the groom’s preparations

  • Getting dressed
  • Details of cufflinks, cravat/boutonniere/funny socks?
  • Wedding rings
  • Groom with groomsmen
  • Groom with father/mother
  • Groom with best man
  • Optional portraits

 

At the ceremony venue

  • Groom with groomsmen, outside/inside
  • Guests arriving, waiting
  • Groom waiting at top of the aisle
  • Bride at bottom of aisle with father
  • Bridesmaids walking
  • Bride walking with father towards the groom
  • Bride and groom first look
  • Bride and groom looking at each other during ceremony
  • Both sets of parents watching the ceremony
  • Guests watching the ceremony
  • Taking the vows
  • Ring exchange
  • First kiss
  • Walk down the aisle
  • Signing of the register + official portraits with witnesses
  • Confetti shower – this can also happen on arrival at the reception venue
  • Mingling with guests and congratulations
  • Traditional photos with family and guests  – these include bride and groom with both sets of families, bridal party, groomsmen, other family members, and often a shot of the couple with all the guests together, space permitting – this can also be done at the reception venue
  • Depending on the agreement between the newlyweds and the photographer, the couple photos may now be taken – these are the photos of the bride and groom alone in various locations. The photographer will very likely know the best places, so he/she may suggest taking these photos in the vicinity of the ceremony venue, or at the reception venue, or even both.

 

At the reception venue

  • Reception  – if possible, the empty reception room in all its glory, details of table plan, tables, décor, favours, centrepieces, cake, anything DIY (the couple should tell the photographer if there are some particular things they’d like to have photographed)
  • Guests arriving at the reception venue
  • Couple arriving at the reception venue
  • Receiving line – this is also optional at the end of the ceremony
  • Couple and guests mingling, sitting down for speeches
  • Father of the bride speech
  • The groom’s speech
  • The bride’s speech – there is no rule for the bride’s speech or when it could be given, it’s the bride’s own choice
  • The best man’s speech
  • Guests listening/laughing – some photographers will take shots of each table separately, so the couple will have at least one picture of each attending guest
  • Cake cutting – the cutting of the cake may happen at various times at the reception
  • Food being served – with pictures of food if the couple wish
  • Bride throwing bouquet/garter – optional
  • First dance
  • Bride’s dance with father
  • Groom’s dance with mother
  • Guests dancing
  • Band/DJ
  • Any evening festivities – i.e. fireworks
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