If you have a photoshoot coming up, whether it’s for engagements, bridals, or branding, it’s always best to be prepared. And one of the best ways to prepare you and your photographer is with a shot list. A shot list is essentially a checklist of shots you need or want done by the end of the session. They help make sure the session is efficient while guaranteeing the shots that are most important to you. Not to mention, making a shot list will prevent lost time and expenses that come with “I didn’t quite get what I want” reshoots.
Before you get started, it’s important to note that a shot list doesn’t have to be super strict. You can come at it with broad generalizations or take things as specific as you like (including poses, locations, and other details). Sometimes it helps to think of a shot list as more of a guideline—there’s no harm in going off script when inspiration strikes, and your shot list will always be there to make sure you get those crucial photos.
A good place to start is to list the things or people you’re shooting. If the shot list is for your bridal session, then this list will be fairly simple (bride and groom), while if you’re doing a branding session, you’ll want to list each of your products that you’ll be featuring and include some portraits for yourself. Making a list of the key people and/or objects in your photoshoot guarantees that you won’t forget something (or someone) important on the day of the session.
Now you can make a list of the shots you want. I recommend making a few different lists: one with must-haves (the top priority photos that you absolutely need), one with details (the up-close pieces and features of your product/outfit/event), and one with extras (the “just in case there’s time” shots that you would like, but are not a priority). Categorizing your shots like this will prevent any regret or disappointment from not dedicating time during the shoot to getting the photos you’re most excited about.
Once you have your categories, you can get more specific about the shots you want. Now is the time to be thinking close-ups, wide shots, posed shots, and candid shots. Think about where you’re shooting and the variety of shots you can get there. Is there grass? Trees? A lake? Are you shooting indoors? What does each corner of the room look like? Putting things in perspective of the location is a great way to imagine all the possibilities of your shoot and organize the shots to optimize your time.
When it comes to poses for shoots like bridal sessions, most photographers will have several ideas up their sleeves. So, if you feel lost when it comes to poses, don’t stress too much (though I still recommend looking through Pinterest or Instagram for some inspiration to get you excited). But if there are some key poses that you want to make sure you don’t miss, like a romantic dip-and-kiss, putting it on your shot list will guarantee that you get the photo you want.
If you have time to dive in deeper, add some details to your shot list. For bridals, think close-ups of the bouquet, rings, and veil. For branding, think of ways to highlight different aspects of your products or services. If you know what you want to be in the background or you have ideas for different setups, make a note so nothing is forgotten.
Shot lists are key when it comes to getting the photos you want most. Communicating with your photographer before the actual shoot will help you both be more efficient with time and will ensure that you leave the shoot happy. Instead of leaving things up to chance or last-minute scrambling, you can go into your photoshoot with total confidence that you will be satisfied.