Wedding Photo Lists – Good Idea or Just Plain Evil?

Ah The List of wedding photos. Every bridal magazine and website is quick to give a list of “must have” photos that all brides should expect from their photographers. “Clip this list and send it to your photographer,” they all advise, I guess assuming that without it a professional wedding photographer is going to stand around scratching his or her head with no idea of what to do next.

Okay, I admit, that’s a bit cynical. But seriously any preconceived list of photos is going to be both good and bad. Let’s look at the pros and cons.


• Lists are good if you have something unique to your wedding that might not be “standard practice” such as dancing down the aisle to the altar.

• If you have special relationships that you want to capture that, again, might not be “standard.”


• Every wedding is unique. No preconceived list can capture the feel and spirit of your wedding. Only a flexible, experienced photographer that can think on his or her feet can do that.

Lists are unrealistic. I once had a bride provide me with a shot list three typed pages long… and that was just for the posed formals. Had I followed it exactly it would have taken four hours to get them all. While that is an extreme example, even much shorter lists tend to gravely underestimate the time it takes for each shot.

Lists stifle creativity. Following a pre-set list means the photographer is mindlessly checking boxes rather than looking for creative options.

• For every minute spent looking for the next shot on the list, a minute of actual story unique to your wedding is going by unrecorded.

Lists convey a lack of confidence in your photographer. Even if that’s not your intention, no true professional wants to be told how to do his or her job. It would be the same thing if I went to my doctor’s office and gave her a list (check my blood pressure, check my temperature, check my weight…) My doctor would probably be offended if I imply that I know her job better than she does.

In the end, my advice to couples I work with is to throw out any list they may have read in a magazine or on a website. Let the photographer capture the unique feel and spirit of your day in their own special way. After all, that’s one of the reasons you chose your photographer among all the others out there in the first place.

Any list you do provide should cover something specific to your wedding. If, for example, you are close to your Great Aunt Susan and want to make sure you get some photos of the two of you together… perfect! If you are planning a surprise (such as a groom’s cake or a fancy first dance) that’s also a perfect thing to include on any list.

But if your list includes things such as “bride walking down aisle” and “first kiss…” Well… if you feel the need to specifically tell your photographer to get these types of shots, you can’t have that much confidence in his or her ability to capture the story of your day. So why did you hire them in the first place?


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