What is a Photography Shot List?

A photography shot list is a clear and systematic checklist that is mainly used in coordinating a photoshoot to ensure that specific shots are taken based on the needs and preferences of the client. It assists portrait photographers, food photographers, event photographers, and many types of photographers to fully check, track, and organize particular shots, visual references, and additional details such as camera angles or lighting set-up so that they can carry out all the crucial tasks in their photo sessions without forgetting any important shots on the day.

The major elements in film and photography are camera angles and shots as they can completely transform the story or message that the photographer is trying to convey to the audience. When photographers communicate their artistic view, they consider the direction in which their cameras point, whether the cameras move or stand still and whether they utilize a close-up or extreme long shot. This shot list is made alongside a photography control scope of work and in some photography proposals like a corporate photography proposal and a wedding photography proposal.

Types of Camera Shots and Camera Angles

Planning where the camera will be in your photography sessions helps you to decide what types of shots you will need so that you can tell the story of your subject in the best way possible. Learn and understand different types of camera shots and camera angles. 

Close-up Shot: It is used by many photographers when highlighting the face of a person. A close-up shot is an essential camera shot to portray the emotions and expressions of the subject and helps to direct the attention of the viewer. Get physically closer to your subject to achieve this shot. Medium Shot: This shot is when you make your camera centered on the main subject while showing more of the context. It usually refers to all shots that frame a person from the waist up or sometimes across the torso. It also portrays the body language as you include more characters in the shot. Use this shot if you prefer to transition between close-ups and wider photo shots. Long Shot: Also known as a wide shot or establishing shot, a long shot displays your overall subject as it leaves sufficient space around it. Take this shot if you want to depict the strong presence of your subject or exaggerate the scale when you compare the subject to the objects around it. It also shows the full length of the subject. Low Angle Shot: This is a type of camera angle indicating that the viewer is looking up at the subject. A low-angle shot can be taken when you point your camera at anything below the eye level of the subject. Use this camera shot angle to portray that the subject is large or powerful or if you want to add something tall behind your subject in the frame. Eye Level Shot: Being the most used of all camera angles, an eye-level shot offers a simple and direct-to-the-point perspective. If you want to create a visual effect and alter the camera angle, this type of camera angle helps your viewers to immediately notice your subject. High Angle Shot: This shot is when you let your camera looks down at the subject without considering how high or low the axis is. As the opposite of a low-angle shot, a high-angle shot can be used if you like to emphasize the vulnerability of your subject. Bird’s Eye View: Also known as an overhead shot or crane shot, it is the more extreme version of the high angle shot. This camera angle shot is usually paired up with a wide camera shot so that you can see down on the subject while incorporating a positive aspect of the context. Dutch Camera Angle: Having a completely unnatural view, a Dutch camera angle is a type of camera angle that uses a tilted horizon. Also referred to as the German camera angle due to its application in German expressionist films, it portrays a canted or oblique angle of your subject. If you want to do this camera angle, rotate your camera on its axis. Many films used this to imply that the character has a distorted mind or when the subject has his mind deeply into something.

Examples of Photography Shot Lists

In order to make sure that you don’t miss a shot, photography shot lists guide you to become more efficient and organized while shooting and to help you capture better photos. Here are some common examples of photography shot lists that photographers need to have.

Portrait Photography Shot List: Also known as portraiture, portrait photography is a type of photography that captures a portrait of a person or group of people as it uses lighting, backdrop, and posing to express the subject’s personality in a single shot. When you prepare a portrait photography shot list, categorize the size of your shots in your list. Some portrait shot sizes are full-body portraits or full shots, waist-up portraits or medium shots, close-up portrait shots, and landscape shots. Consider different lighting styles such as Rembrandt lighting or broad lighting. Be specific about the poses, locations, wardrobes, and varying groups. Food Photography Shot List: This shot list is used for food photography which makes food the main subject matter. Photographers working on commercial, editorial, and still-life photography create a food photography shot list to help them capture the foods such as fresh ingredients, kitchen scenes, or plated dishes to encapsulate the essence of the foods. They collaborate with an art director, food stylist, and/or prop stylist when getting the final shot of the food. Some types of camera angles included in this list are overhead perspective or a 45-degree angle, narrow-angled shots with selective focus, and extreme close-ups to showcase a fresh ingredient or fully plated dish to the audience. Event Photography Shot List: Photographers working for events such as anniversaries, birthdays, corporate parties, awards ceremonies, conferences, live concerts, and other formal gatherings use an event photography shot list to help them take specific shots to highlight the special moments in these events. Candid shots are the most common camera shots included in this list, as well as some shots to show the guests in attendance and how the event naturally unfolds. Prenup Photography Shot List: Prepare your prenup photography shot list for your clients or soon-to-be-married couples for their prenuptial photos. Include in your list the venue, wardrobe, props, makeup, style, and energy of the clients. Ask your clients if they have a mood board and pegs that they want so that you can work quickly on the conceptualization process for their prenup photo session. For example, ask them about their hobbies or activities they do together or memories they experienced that they want to recreate. Consider if they want a traditional, contemporary, or documentary shooting style and if they prefer an alternative, modern, vintage, or whimsical theme. Wedding Photography Shot List: A wedding photography shot list is divided into four sections or timelines of the wedding event: the pre-ceremony, wedding ceremony, after-ceremony, and reception. Include in the pre-ceremony some camera shots of the groom with all groomsmen, groom with best man, groom with ring bearer, groom with his parents, groom’s parents, groom solo, the bride with all bridesmaids, bride ¼ length and close up, the bride with Maid of Honor, the bride with her parents, bride’s parents, bride solo, the bride with groomsmen, and groom with bridesmaids. For the ceremony part, include in the list some shots of each of them going down the aisle, the exchange of vows, placing of rings, the kiss, and newlyweds returning down the aisle.

How to Create a Well-Structured Photography Shot List

Stay focused and organized while shooting for your clients. Follow the four steps for creating a well-structured photography shot list.

Step 1: Use a Photography Shot List Template

Look for some sample editable photography shot list templates around the internet. Sample.net contains a wide array of document and checklist templates including well-designed photography shot list templates that you can easily and quickly use for your photo sessions with your clients. Choose from our template collection and download your preferred shot list template for your food, event, portrait, or wedding photography.

Step 2: List the Subjects or Topics of Your Photography

Create a list of the main subjects or topics you want to shoot, as well as what your client wants for the shoot. For example, specify some parts or moments of an event, buildings, or people. Include some reference images or sketches in your list.

Step 3: Note the Specific Shots

The next step is to take note of each specific shot you need. Consider different camera angles, arrangements, formats, and many others. Ask your client what type of camera shots and angles they want aside from your requirements. For example, include in your list full shots, close-ups, and many others. Also, add any special details about the shots you are planning to capture on the day as they act as reminders about the tone, composition, or mood you are aiming for.

Step 4: Describe the Lighting and Backgrounds

Add some descriptive information on the lighting and backgrounds to help you prepare for the day of the shoot in a breeze. Again, consult with your client on their mood board and the visual inspiration they want for the photos. Ask them about the theme they want for the shots as well.

Step 5: Organize, Revise, Share, and Finalize the Shot List

Present your list in the order you want to shoot them. Put all the portrait and solo shots in one section and the group related shots in the other one. Create a column for each segment of your shoot so that you can save time wisely during your photoshoot. Check your list and revise it if necessary. Lastly, share the list with your client and the team so that everyone is on the same page. Collect their feedback and finalize your shot list.


What are the different types of photography?

The different types of photography are abstract photography, adventure photography, architectural photography, astrophotography, black and white (B&W) photography, business photography, portrait photography, product photography, commercial photography, creative photography, documentary photography, editorial photography, event photography, family photography, fashion photography, film photography, fine art photography, food photography, golden hour photography, time-lapse photography, still-life photography, underwater photography, wedding photography, wildlife photography, and photojournalism.

What makes a good photography shot?

Make a good photography shot while considering the basic elements to add interest and composition to your shots such as the color, lighting, lines, shapes, patterns, texture, and the rule of thirds.

What are some examples of photography shot lists?

Some examples of photography shot lists are product shot lists, photography technical shot lists, birthday party photography shot lists, anniversary event photography shot lists, graduation event photography shot lists, family reunion photography shot lists, wedding event photography shot lists, prenup shot lists, food photography shot lists, and many others.

How to make shots more interesting?

Take candid shots as they produce more genuine and natural photos, get closer to your subject, change your camera angles and objects to create intriguing perspectives, use leading lines to guide the eye of viewers and create stimulating compositions, and use other modes aside from the auto mode such as the full manual mode or aperture priority and shutter priority modes. Get the best results when you slow down, have patience, and take your time while focusing on your shots. 

Whether you are preparing for a commercial, food, event, portrait, or wedding photography, consider executing all the essential points highlighted in this article when you create a simple or detailed photography shot list. Plus, we have included a wide array of sample photography shot lists and other document checklists for your work such as reference lists, quality assurance checklists, and questionnaire checklists that you can easily download and use for your photo sessions and other work projects.