I'm going to start this list by seeming to contradict the title of this post. Shot lists can be extremely helpful for your wedding photographer. However, they can also prevent you from ending up with the wedding photos that you desire. The very photos that you thought your shot list was going to guarantee.
When you are too thorough with your shot list, you create a long list of to dos for your wedding photographer. A list that they feel the pressure to keep checking to ensure they don't miss any of the shots you're wanting. This is a lot of time spent with their eyes on a piece of paper instead of searching for the perfect candid moments that no shot list could foresee. These candid moments are what made up a large part of wedding days and make wedding photos so meaningful.
Shot lists are helpful when it comes to unique photos - a very specific pose that can be captured during pre-ceremony photos - but they just create white noise if you list things the photographer will already know to capture.
If you create too much white noise, the photographer may miss your unique poses entirely because all they see when they look at the list are the obvious items.
Every bride wants beautifully posed photos, but they also want their wedding photos to paint a picture of the overall day. To recreate it for them when they look back on the photos years later. After all, photos are one of the more expensive investments you'll make on your wedding day. If that's the case, don't you want your photographer spending more time actually capturing the photos than reading a list?
What can a bride do to ensure that she gets the photos she dreams of without micromanaging? Here are some of my tips!
Find a photographer whose portfolio already aligns with the types of photos you want from your wedding.
This is the best tip I could possibly give you. The investment might be more than the price a close friend quotes you, but if photos are very important to you, then it is worth it to pay a photographer who you feel confident will capture them. Look through the photographer's portfolio on their website to get an idea of what the average quality of their work is and be sure it aligns with your vision.
Be clear with your photographer about the vibe you're wanting from your wedding photos. Be sure it's something they feel confident they can capture before booking them.
The second best thing you can do is communicate with your photographer. Send them an inquiry and describe your ideal day - do you want a dreamy mood to your photos or a quirky mood? Ask them how they would describe their style and see if it all aligns.
Provide a shot list days in advance.
If you want to provide a shot list, pick only the few unique shots that you want and provide it to your photographer in advance so that they can become familiar with it before they show up on your wedding day.
A good photographer will be open to your suggestions throughout the day.
Most of the photographers that I've worked with are highly flexible individuals. They are there to capture your wedding day and are open to any suggestions you might have throughout the day. Did you just spot an old college friend and want a photo? Just let your photographer know! Often communication throughout the day is the best way to ensure that you get all the photos you want.
Any photographers care to weigh in with their opinions of shot lists?