Pro vs. Novice Wedding Photographer



Many things have changed in 10 and a half years since Kirsten got married. Like shot lists. Brides nowadays can really get a lot of ideas from Pinterest, and logically, they turn those ideas into must haves in the form of a detailed and specific shot list.


A shot list is a list of pictures that the photographer is supposed to capture on the day of your wedding. Most photographers are going to require or encourage you to have one for family photos. When it comes to this type of shot list, it should be very specific, what groupings of photos do you want, who is in the picture, their name and their relationship to the person they are related or closest to. Like,

Bride (Shreena) + Bride's mom (Cynthia)

Bride + Bride's mom (Cynthia) + Bride's father (Roger)

Bride + Groom (Derek) + Bride's mom (Cynthia) + Bride's Father (Roger)

That way your photographer can know exactly what is expected and who is going to be in the picture. The more detailed and specific you are with the shot list, the better.

The second type of shot list is the one that might not be necessary. This is the one that you likely will think of first and it reads as follows:

Picture of first look

Picture of bride with bridemaids

Picture of bride with groomsmen

Picture of bride with bridesmaids shoe shot

And on and on. This one need not be as detail oriented. If it's a wedding thing, it likely will get captured. Like the vows, your toasts etc. If it's a special detail you are including in your day, like gifts or a prayer, then tell your photographer and put that moment in the timeline. Give you photographer the timeline and viola! Your details shot list shall be completed, without having to scare the pants off of your photographer with a thirty page must have shot list.


Kirsten normally shows up towards the end of your getting ready time and will start capturing pictures of you getting ready and getting dressed (tasteful dressing photos of course).  Right after that, you'll jump right into the first look, if you don't have a first look then you'll take separate pictures with each of your bridal parties (bridal meaning wedding, not bridal as a gendered word).

When it comes to the first look and if you're trying to decide whether you want to do one or not, just keep in mind that your wedding photos won't take less time if you opt to not do a first look. Usually, it'll take longer, if you're doing your big group pictures after the ceremony. There will be a different rhythm to the day if you opt for a first look while walking down the aisle, and it's totally fine to opt out of it, but be prepared and have a good plan. By plan I mean timeline.


After you contact the photographer you want to capture you're wedding, either through their website, a social media platform, or by *GASP* calling them on the phone, you'll usually schedule a consultation. This is a free meeting with the photographer to get to know one another, like a first date.

A great way for you and your spouse to find photographers for your engagement and wedding photos is through Instagram. You can see their work and see if their pictures match what you want the aesthetic of your wedding to be. DO you want light and airy or dark and moody? Do you like lots of candids or more posed pictures? Talk to your friends who have gotten married and take their recommendations, for photographers and for the other vendors that they liked from their big day.


After you're married, you will realize that a lot of the things don't matter. One thing that will matter, that you might not think so right now? Formal pictures. Get those pictures of you with your grandparents. Or you and you're parents. Recently, a sixpence bride reflected on the value of her pictures from her wedding with her mom, who just died. Honestly, sad as it is, people don't live forever, those images can mean so much to you, the future you.


Right now, you may be stressing over every little detail of your wedding. Please remember, that after this solitary day of your life, you won't remember ALL of the little details. ALL those little details that are currently eating up so much of your time and so much of your energy. Really focus and choose the details that mean the most to you and that you know you will remember.  So, not #allthethings

Many couples don't think about taking care of their marriage, nurturing this relationship during their engagement. But during your engagement is the most important time to focus on your impending marriage.

Please, please get premarital counseling. Take care of your marriage before you're married.


Delegate, delegate, delegate. Don't take everything on. Your parents would love the opportunity to be a part of planning your wedding, so give them something to DO (beside pay for things). Your bridal party would love to help, ask them nicely to complete tasks. Ask for help. It is OK to not do everything yourself!

Just remember: Really think about that family shot list. Make sure to be specific and to get those formal pictures with the people who matter in your life.