Wedding Tip Wednesday: Photo Shot List Do’s and Dont’s

As a wedding photographer, my main job is to capture moments. Real moments, as they happen. Of course, it’s also up to me to direct couples and their wedding party and families during the portrait sessions of the day, but for the most part, everything else unfolds as it will and I have to capture as much of it as possible while being unobtrusive.

In this, the day of Pinterest, Instagram and wedding blogs, it is very common for brides to compile a collection of “must-have” photos. A wishlist, if you will. The photos you save as inspiration for your big day are a huge help when it comes to envisioning your day and pulling together a cohesive design. I really wish I had tools like that at my disposal when I got married!

That being said, it’s easy to over visualize your wedding. Falling in love with certain bridal portraits that you found online is perfectly understandable, but it’s important to remember that once your wedding day arrives, it’s time to enjoy the ride and trust your vendors—your photographer in particular—to do their job and do it well.


Sending your photographer specific photos that already exist and asking them to be recreated on your wedding day not only takes your photographer’s focus away from their main job of capturing moments, it also takes away their creativity. Trust me, letting your photographer get inspired in the moment and play with each couple on their wedding day to create beautiful, relaxed portraits is an art form and trying to recreate someone else’s piece of art isn’t how you’ll get the very best out of your photographer.

To avoid disappointment and get the very best out of your wedding photos, here are some do’s and dont’s to keep in mind when compiling a list of must-have photos for your photographer:

DO compile a list of all of the family formal photos you’d like. Doing this before the wedding day ensures you won’t accidentally forget anyone. It also guarantees that portion of the day, which can be very high stress due to the amount of people involved, will go much smoother.

DON’T send your photographer a list of obvious shots like “bride walking down the aisle” or “the first dance.” If your photographer isn’t getting those photos, they probably aren’t actually a wedding photographer! Those shots are very standard and as long as those things happen, any experienced wedding photographer will be in the right place to capture them.

DO tell your photographer about any out-of-the-ordinary surprises you have planned for your significant other or your guests. If you’re doing something you’ve never seen before like being flown into your reception by a helicopter, or flash mob for your first dance, it’s a good idea to let your photographer know that in advance to make sure they’re positioned in the right place and ready with the right kind of equipment.


DON’T send a list of “moments” that might not happen naturally. For example: “Father of the bride sharing a hug before walking down the aisle” or “Maid of Honor admiring bride’s ring after the ceremony.” While these moments might make lovely photos if they happen, they wouldn’t necessarily happen naturally, which means you’re really asking your photographer to create these moments. This is a bad idea not just because of the lack of genuineness, but also because your photographer will be preoccupied with a checklist of fake moments, which could make them miss capturing the actual moments happening during your day.

DO feel comfortable sharing your Pinterest inspiration board with your photographer so they understand your vision and style, but…

DON’T expect them to duplicate, recreate, or otherwise copy any of the photos you’ve saved. Use your inspiration photos as just that, and then try to forget they exist once you’ve executed your vision and the big day has arrived.

Remember, trust is key! If you’ve chosen the right photographer for your day, you’ll feel comfortable letting them do their thing and you’ll be thrilled with the photos that result from doing so.



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