Wedding Shot List: What Is It?

A wedding shot list or wedding photo list is an official list of instructions that the bride or groom wants for their photos during the pre-wedding, wedding ceremony, and wedding reception. And this list is given to the wedding photographer to make it easier for the professional to follow the client’s demands. The wedding shot list works in two ways: (1) it can be a document that enlists written instructions ala photographer task checklist or (2) it can be a document with pictures, specifically sample wedding photos, that serve as the wedding photographer’s reference.

According to, wedding photography prices run around $1,000–$10,000 in America.

Why Are Wedding Shot Lists Essential?

The wedding dress, wedding ring, pictures of the couple’s families—the list goes on regarding what possible wedding shots to incorporate in a shot list. So why is there a need to create a wedding shot list, you might ask? Here are some of the top reasons for how important wedding shot lists are:

Not Miss a Single Wedding Shot

With so many things to consider at a wedding, it can get overwhelming for photographers to capture every significant moment in a wedding. Thus, it is possible for some professionals, especially those who forget easily, to miss any film shot. Thanks to a wedding shot list, every angle, spot, or instruction is listed in an easy-to-read document. So in case wedding photographers aren’t sure if they have everything covered or missed anything, they can refer to the list as a personal to-do list.

Organized List of Shots

What is responsible for making wedding shot lists easy to follow is how everything is carefully planned and organized. The list itself is basically a strategic plan from where the photographer is expected to be at different moments of a wedding, when to move to the next program, to what tasks to do in chronological order. Thus, you can refer to the wedding shot list as the order of photography for wedding list too.

Clarity of Expectations

When the bride or groom introduces the wedding shot list to the wedding photographer, both parties will eventually know what to expect during the actual wedding. Bear in mind that there should be a discussion between the client and the photographer to talk about the list. That way, they can form a binding agreement and clarify expectations. Sometimes, a client’s request could be impossible for the photographer to do. An example is when a client asks for HD drone camera shots yet the client’s budget cannot afford drone equipment. Thus, adjustments must be made to that scenario.

Positive Relationship between Clients and Photographers

A well-known benefit of introducing a shot list is that it maintains a healthy relationship between the client and the photographer. That is because both parties can talk things out first in order to make photography requests happen. An example is when a wedding photographer rejects a client’s request for being infeasible. The photographer will have to explain why it is impossible and recommend an alternative for the client that is near the desired result. Hence, communication is the key to ensuring this positive relationship among parties.

Your Wish Is Your Photographer’s Command

While the wedding photographer already knows how to come up with the best shots per moment in a wedding, that does not mean they are not open to listening to the client’s request. The most special factor about a wedding shot list is that there is room for customization in which the client’s requests will be answered by the photographer. The bride or groom should take this opportunity to discuss and make their dream weddings happen as envisioned.

Parts of a Basic Wedding Shot List

Indeed, wedding shot lists are like a chore list except that the list of steps is related to every camera shot for a wedding. However, wedding shot lists have more content than a list of tasks. In fact, a standard wedding shot list often has the following essential parts:

Title: A piece of paper can be regarded as any type of document, not unless you have a visible title at the top center of that document. Hence, write the document title “Wedding Shot List” on the sheet so that the wedding photographer knows what the list is mainly about. The title itself brings a clear introductory statement of what the rest of its content is without having to explain too long.Specific List of Instructions: Of course, the heart of the wedding shot list would be its itemized task list. The list of instructions needs to be specified so wedding photographers won’t have to be puzzled during the actual wedding. Examples of instructions are: bride looking out the window, groom tying a tie, couple’s parents hugging one another, etc. And the instructions must be agreed upon by both clients and photographers to make this work.Categories: What makes the specific list of instructions easy to follow is how they can be classified into various categories. So rather than making a universal wedding shot list, you can divide the tasks according to the pre-wedding, the wedding ceremony, the wedding reception, and the aftermath. In fact, categorizing it is up to preference. Others divide the instructions according to the bride, the groom, family members, and others. And whether the list runs chronologically or not is up to preference as well.Project Tracker: How will you make sure that the wedding photographer follows the shot list and will not miss any item? Include blanks or checkboxes used for tracking progress. Project tracking is easy, just like how most work checklists are designed. Beside every item in the list is a line, circle, or checkbox. And the photographer only marks each box after following that item’s instruction. Thus, the wedding photographer does the job as promised if she/he/they marked all those checkboxes in the end.Sample Photos: Although this is optional, adding sample photos is acceptable in wedding shot lists. This is perfect when the client finds it difficult to describe a certain angle or shot so it would be better to show a sample picture instead. But, the photos used here should be clear and well-printed so it is easy for the wedding photographer to navigate.Notes: Leave a blank space in the wedding shot list for the notes. This section can be used for anything like when a client wants to add last-minute changes or a rough sketch of the wedding budget calculation and how much to pay for the photographer. Another example is when a wedding photographer fails to fulfill a specific item so there has to be a reason written under notes.

How to Craft a Workable Wedding Shot List

There is no denying that a wedding shot list is worth including in the wedding planning process. And now that you know what it means, why it is essential, and what its standard elements are, you are more than equipped to come up with your own wedding shot list. You will surely ace the list-making process when you apply these steps on how to make a wedding shot list that works:

  • Step 1: Research on Different Wedding Shot Portfolios

    Don’t immediately create a wedding shot list without being sure of what you want for your wedding pictures in the first place. A tip is to familiarize the wedding event’s program first so you will know what to expect from start to finish. Next, check different sample photos for inspiration. You might have an interesting idea yet once you see other more beautiful images, you might change your mind. Also, take advantage of talking with the wedding photographer for some tips. You can even refer to the photographer’s own set of portfolios for more ideas.

  • Step 2: Leverage a Sample Wedding Shot List Template

    Fret no more about working on wedding shot lists from scratch because you can save more time in using free wedding shot list samples, as listed above in this post. Take advantage of each template since you can customize its design, layout, content, and more changeable features. Also, you may use other related samples such as an editable wedding photo checklist, wedding photo group list, wedding to-do list, and a wedding family photo list template. Download now!

  • Step 3: List Down Your Preferred Shots

    Now that you have a sample template to work with, begin listing your preferred shots. You can use a standard printable to-do list or checklist in listing down so you won’t miss any important detail. Also, be careful if you might have mentioned doubles as those will only worsen the result. As mentioned before, be specific with the list to prevent confusion. In fact, there is no need to write complete and long sentences in the shot list because you can enumerate with bullet points and use a few words per item only. And make sure the wedding photographer understands your writing.

  • Step 4: Set Clear Categories and Add List Organizers

    If you can remember the elements of a basic wedding shot list, you would know that there are categories and organizers that can help improve your wedding shot list’s results. So be sure to maximize this step by adding anything that makes the list easy to read. Besides writing long lists, you can even add timeline charts, category tables, or any creative organizer that works for your wedding shot list. And complete the rest of the standard wedding shot list elements from the title down to notes.

  • Step 5: Maintain Realistic Expectations

    As much as possible, reread and review the whole wedding shot list. This is the right time to come up with evaluations, edit any mistake, and improve the results. Also, are the entire instructions practical enough? Realistic expectations are important because impractical requests would easily be rejected by photographers. An example is when you really want the photographer to be at more than one place at once yet you only hired a single photographer. You should have hired more in that case.

  • Step 6: Update the Shot List Regularly

    Lastly, encourage the wedding photographer to update the wedding shot list regularly on the wedding itself. The photographer can keep a copy of that document and check every single checkbox until the itemized list of instructions will be accomplished successfully. And once you finish all these steps, you have just mastered the wedding shot list-making process.


How much do wedding photographers charge?

In the US, wedding photography prices range from around $1,000–$10,000. But expect prices to differ based on the photographer’s experience, portfolio, and other aspects.

What do you need for wedding detail photos?

Here is a list of what the bride and the groom needs for wedding detail photos:

  • Bride – wedding dress, veil, shoes, jewelry, perfume, invitation cards, wedding ring, bouquet of flowers, vow book, party favors, wedding gifts
  • Groom – wedding suit, tie, watch, cuff links, shoes, cologne, handkerchief, suspenders, belt, invitation cards, vow book, party favors, wedding gifts

How many photos should a wedding photographer take?

On average, wedding photographers take at least 100 shots an hour. So for eight hours, you can expect around 800 pictures to choose from.

A wedding event itself deals with an ample amount of work. And how you envision it should also be captured in the most special way possible—through the lens of a wedding photographer. Although you can trust a professional photographer anytime, clients also have different preferences for their wedding pictures. A photo that is superb for a photographer could be dismal to a bride or groom. Hence, it helps to meet expectations on every picture for your wedding by mapping it out in a detailed wedding shot list template. Envision your dream wedding now!