You’re pretty new to hiring professional photographers, so perhaps you feel you need to provide them with a wedding photo list in advance of your wedding. Here are 5 important reasons why you probably shouldn’t.
Do You Trust Your Photographer?
Yeah I know, start with an easy one. Assuming you’ve already booked your wedding photographer, you trust them right?
You went through a rigorous vetting process to make sure you picked the photographer who takes photos you love, and who you get along with.
That being the case, you should have no need to give any significant direction to your photographer.
Important point #1: Trust that your photographer knows what they are doing.
The Reality Of Wedding Photo Lists
It’s okay to not know what you’re doing when you’re booking a wedding photographer. Perhaps your parents have asked whether you’ve prepared your shot list for your photographer.
Thing is, if your parents got married decades ago, they probably had to give their photographer a wedding photo list. That’s because in the days before digital cameras, photographers would work to a tight list of prearranged portraits. Documentary style wedding photography wasn’t really a thing back then.
By the way, please don’t tell your parents that I insinuated that they are old. I’m sure YOUR parents are young enough to have gotten married in the digital age ☺️.
Important point #2 is that wedding photography isn’t about prearranged, staged photos anymore.
Your Wedding Is Different To Everyone Else’s
Think about how many variables there are on a wedding day.
Important point #3: The photos you love on Pinterest are probably not achievable on your wedding day.
Those photos could have been taken anywhere, at any time.
On your wedding day, the lighting will be different, the weather, the location, the venue itself. You won’t have the same dress or outfit, hair, makeup. The list of variables goes on.
Not to mention a lot of the best images on Pinterest are often taken on styled shoots, where the variables are controlled and the photographer can arrange everything to get the best possible photo. Wedding days are not so controllable.
Honestly, even photos I took myself can be tricky to recreate at a different wedding at the same venue.
Shot Lists Put Unnecessary Pressure On You And Your Photographer
Wedding days go from start to finish in the blink of an eye. You’ll go from one setting to the next with people coming at you from all angles for all sorts of reasons.
Your photographer will be following the action throughout the day, capturing everything so that you can try to figure out what happened afterward. From time to time, they may take you out of the action to get some portraits, and of course the group photos, but for the most part you’ll want to get on with enjoying the day as best you can.
Now imagine that you have given your photographer a comprehensive list of photos they have to make sure they get at some point during the wedding day. They (and you) will then be preoccupied trying to set these shots up, and all the while missing the genuine moments that make your wedding unique.
Important point #4: the more time you spend trying to stage unnatural photos, the less you’ll have to enjoy your wedding day.
The Good Kind Of Wedding Photo Shot List
You probably think I’m not a fan of shot lists. In reality, I ask every couple to make one before their wedding day.
Importantly though, the shot list I want is for the group photos, and it is just a list of people who must be included in those photos.
Beyond the group photo lists, I’m always open to suggestions.
That’s important point #5, talk to your photographer beforehand about what kind of photos you’d like to have.
Make suggestions and explain what is important to you and why. Let that guide your photographer, rather than simply dictating shot by shot what they should take.
Don’t send them pictures from someone else’s wedding and tell them you’d like that photo. Discuss and agree on what is possible, and prepare yourself for the idea that what you are hoping for may not be possible on your wedding day.
If you trust your photographer and know that they produce photos that you love then let them do what they do best. Ultimately, for all the planning and research you can do, you won’t know what your wedding will look like until it happens.
You might not get the photos you thought you wanted, embrace that idea and throw away your expectations.
So long as you have the right photographer, you’ll have so much better than you could have imagined.
Your wedding photos won’t be like anyone else’s — they’ll be your wedding photos, taken at your wedding, and you will love them.
About the author: James Morgan is a wedding photographer based in Sheffield in England. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Morgan’s work on his website. This article was also published here.