If you've looked at wedding blogs or Pinterest, you've likely seen posts like "50 Must-Have Wedding Photos" or "The Ultimate Wedding Shot List." These posts provide you a comprehensive list of standard photos you might want on your wedding day. And while they can be a good place to start, I challenge you to re-think the list. Your wedding is not like everyone else's - it's your own unique day that celebrates all the amazing things that make your love story special. It's one that celebrates the ways you wrestle each other in a cuddle fight, the inside jokes with your best friends that should never be revealed to anyone else, the memories growing up with your crazy but still kinda cool family. So why should your wedding photos be any less unique? Dive into this step by step guide to rethink how to capture genuine, authentic memories of your wedding day.
1. Talk to your photographer.
Let me start by saying that every photographer captures weddings differently, and the way they see the world through the lens is unique to their style and approach. Some photographers are more fine-art and traditional, others are more candid and photojournalistic. With that said, many candid and photojournalistic photographers (like me!) understand that while you absolutely love the way that we capture authentic moments, you probably also want that photo of your family all smiling straight at the camera. So your very first step is to talk to your photographer. There is no one-size fits all answer, just like there's no perfect standard wedding shot list.
If anyone out there is a planner like me (with a few too many Google Sheets), I get wanting to be prepared with a shot list, especially for something as important as your wedding day. But giving your photographer a long shot list often means that you’ll be spending your entire wedding day chasing down those shots, missing out on the memories and stories behind it that remind you of why you wanted photos captured in the first place. Now don't get me wrong - if you have specific photos in mind that are important to you, by all means, please let your photographer know! Whether it's a photo with a grandparent, or a reunion with childhood friends, there may be photos only you know are important to you. Those are the shots that you'll want to prepare for your photographer ahead of time.
2. Know your photographer's approach.
While your photographer likely doesn't have a shot list written down, it's important to know what photos he/she will be looking to capture on a wedding day. This internal list is our way of making sure that you don't have to worry. An easy way to know your photographer's approach is to ask to see a full gallery or wedding blog posts. Here's an example of what I typically look for on a wedding day:
1. Groom Prep
2. Bride pREP
4. Wedding Party
5. Ceremony / Reception Details
7. Family Formals
* List is created by couple with suggested groupings, alternate groupings can include siblings, grandparents, extended family, etc.:
Now keep in mind, this is my own personal "shot list" for what I look for on a wedding day, but every photographer, wedding, and couple is different. It's not a guarantee, and is very dependent on the timeline. Some couples skip getting ready altogether, others focus more on reception and less on bridal details. During the planning process, talk to your photographer about what moments are most important to make sure you allocate time for them.
So what's not included? Here's examples of shots that I don't typically focus on unless time allows, but may be specifically requested by couples:
3. Reinvent the shot list.
Now's the fun part! Instead of thinking about your shot list as specific photos, think about memories and moments that encompass what it means to feel "This is so us." Forget what looks Instagrammable and find ways of making your day yours by creating space for the unexpected.
You can choose to make your celebration be wholly genuine to you are, whether the moments are planned or unplanned. Are you foodies? Make sure you don't miss out on the amazing food you picked out. Do you have cultural traditions that are meaningful to you? Incorporate them into their wedding day (or multiple wedding days!) Love the outdoors? Plan day-after sunset session where you can celebrate your first day as newlyweds. The options are limitless.
Ready to chat more about capturing your awesome wedding day?