The Shot list is a LIE | Wedding Photography Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Lookback Lesson #16

Bride in a birdcage veil

Image from Ryan and Denise Photography {Submitted to the Mountainside Bride

I found myself at an industry event without my camera recently. No worries. I was told that two professional photographers were on hand. Perf!

Toward the end of the evening I got around to mingling with the photographers. I asked each if they had gotten detail shots of the gorgeous centerpieces, or the sweet, handmade wedding cakes. How about the gourmet snacks or the signature drinks? Any decor? The vintage frames? The build your own jewelry for kids?


Both said they “didn’t have time” to shoot the details. Bummer. Because  I wanted to blog about this event. I also know other local venders wanted to post about it. And, I’d argue that a bride doesn’t give a rats ass about pictures of smiling vendors. She wants to see the cake maker’s cakes and the florist’s work. She wants to see what the planner can do with details. I mean really, do potential destination brides care about the director of the tourism’s speech. Probably not.

Can we say: Photography FAIL!!!

And Brides, take this as a big fat warning to brides when choosing your wedding photographers.

Don’t Think That All Wedding Photographers Are Created Equally

This event reminded me of an important piece of advice: Don’t expect that all photographers know your wedding-day priorities. But it’s more than that, too. Discussing what details and moments you want shot may not be enough. Don’t just hand your photographer a shot list and think it will be OK.

Instead, screen out photographers by asking to see a few full weddings they’ve shot. Most photographers can give you login credentials to their online galleries.

Then, make sure your priorities align with the photographer’s shooting style.

For example, if you have slaved over a million DIY projects for months and want lots of detail shots, don;t choose a photographer that focuses heavily on portraits. Don’t expect any old photographer to magically take Style Me Pretty style detail shots. There’s skill involved with photography. One needs more than a 10K camera to do good work.

Similarly, if your priority is throwing a bitchin’ party with dancing ’till dawn, consider a photographer who has strong dance floor shots (Two Ring Studios is a personal fav for this type of thing.)

Other Fine Print Tips You Should Know Before Hiring a Wedding Photographer

  • Don’t miss those beloved photos of Nonna. This falls in to the shot-list-is-a-lie genre. Your photographer may have a list of VIPs to shoot, but that doesn’t mean  she knows what any of these people look like. Give the shot list to a trusted family member or someone from the wedding party and have them work with the photographer to find your VIPs and round them up for pictures.
  • Surprise! You don’t own your wedding pictures. Don’t be surprised to find your getting ready shots (read: you in your underwear) on the photographers or my blog. Read the contract carefully. It’s likely that the photographer has language in there saying she or he can publish your wedding without your permission. If you’re a private person, talk with your photographer about publishing your wedding and ask for a clause to the contract that protects your privacy, or find a photographer who has worked with private couples in the past. (Parker J Pfister is one of my favs for this.)
  • Some schumck other than your wedding photographer may show up at your wedding. Again read the contract carefully!!! If you book a studio with multiple photographers, or a big name photographer with a gaggle of assistents, you may not get the photographer you want. Make sure your contract stipulates that the person you are hiring is the same person whose portfolio you’ve reviewed.