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Wedding photographer shot list

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By using this wedding photographer shot list you can be confident that all the important posed family pictures are taken.

If you are reading this, chances are you are a bride or groom looking for help with your wedding photography.  Maybe you are a photographer, who has never shot a wedding before, and you are concerned that you may miss an important family or bridal party photo.   You may be a wedding planner, who is looking to help your photographer by making sure he or she doesn’t miss any important posed pictures.   No matter what your situation, I hope you find this article useful.   In this article I will provide a complete posed wedding photographer shot list.  I will include all the posed pictures that are required when photographing a wedding.  I will also talk about the photos that are nice to take, but not required.  In addition, I will talk about the additional pictures you should take when the bride and groom decide to do a “First Look.”  I will review each photography sequence, and give some helpful tips as well as important information about photographing weddings.    At the bottom of this article, I will include a list that you could copy and paste into a document to take with you on the wedding day.  This article on a wedding photographer shot list, does not include all the other pictures that photographing a wedding requires.  Wedding pictures such as, the rings, the getting ready pictures, the ceremony photos and the reception pictures are not included.  This article is only about the required posed pictures.  While it’s true that some couples only care about a photo-journalistic photography approach.  As a South Florida wedding photographer, I love photo-journalism and believe it is an important part of wedding coverage. From my experience I have found that almost all of my clients care deeply about the posed family pictures.  I know this,  because I have found that the one posed family picture that is missed, is the one that a client will ask about.  In my wedding photography world, getting all the required posed pictures is critical.  If a wedding couple tells me that they don’t care about posed pictures, I make sure I have their request in writing.   Doing posed pictures at a wedding will take time.  This is time that needs to be factored into the wedding timeline. 

When I’m photographing a South Florida wedding, or any wedding for that matter, I consider that there are two sides to the photography.  One side is the creative side.  It’s the creative side of wedding photography that makes most people want to become a photographer. The creative aspect of a photographers work is almost always what potential clients notice first.  When couples hire a photographer it’s usually the creative side of the wedding photography that influences the sale.  The other side of wedding photography is what I call the, staying out of trouble side.  The stay out of trouble side refers to not missing important posed pictures.  I’m sure I speak for many many wedding photographer when I say, “I can’t get too excited about photographing groups of people standing in a line.”  However, being a fantastic wedding photographer means that you need to strive for excellence in every aspect of wedding coverage.  This means that all the posed pictures I take look great.  I pose everyone, and make sure everyone in a group looks as good as possible.  If I see someone holding a cell phone in their hand I’ll nicely ask them to hide it.   Yes, I shoot fast, and I pose quickly, but I get the posed pictures done with everyone looking as good as possible.  I also shoot several photos of all my groups.  This way if an eye is closed, I could replace the eye with the same eye from another photo.  

Bride and Groom with Brother and Parents is an important picture to get.
Bride and Groom with Parents and Brother is an important posed family picture

During a wedding, family and friends come together for an event that doesn’t happen very often.  Some of the family members have not seen each other in many years.  It’s an opportunity to get pictures of friends and family in a situation where everyone looks their best, and is at a beautiful location.  This is where the stay out of trouble part comes into play.   As a South Florida wedding photographer who has shot well over 1000 weddings, I can tell you first hand, if you miss an important family picture you will hear about it.  In addition there are so many different family and bridal party posed portrait combinations that it’s easy for something to get missed.  This means that the appropriate amount of time must be dedicated for the posed pictures.  Look at it this way, if someone hires a great photographer to cover a wedding and that photographer does a, just ok job taking artistic photos, the client may say something to the effect of, the photographer was just ok, they covered everything and they were nice, but we were not so impressed.  However, if the photographer misses an important posed family photo,  you can bet the photographer will hear about it.   To put it simply, when it comes to a clients regard for their hired photographer, if the photographer doesn’t produce artistic images, it’s a problem.  However if the photographer misses important required posed pictures,  it’s a disaster!  Of course this depends on who you ask.  Artistic pictures are a matter of opinion, but missing a posed picture is something solid.  My photographer missed X photo and they left town.  I won’t see them for years.   Being in business for over 25 years I have heard from parents looking to hire a wedding photographer.  At our other daughters wedding the photographer we hired missed X and X and X.  This comes up often when parents or a couple is meeting with me for the next family wedding.   Of course you want your photographer to get it all.  artistic and posed pictures. If you follow the information in this article on creating a wedding photographer shot list you won’t miss any important posed family photos. 

Wedding shortlist for posed family photos
Bride with Mom, Bride with Mom and Dad, Bride and Father. Some photographers don’t break down the posed family photos to this extent. If your ok with your South Florida wedding photographer only shooting one large group family photo lots of posed photography time could be saved. I have found that almost all of my clients (Especially Parents) are looking for family groupings such as this.

As a professional wedding photographer, the end result should be, to have all the required posed pictures, and still have plenty of time to take the artistic pictures as well.

Before we start to talk about a wedding photographer shot list,  we should talk about the picture taking process.

Way before the wedding day,  it’s critical to create a really good wedding photography timeline.  The timeline needs to take into account how much time is needed for all the pictures. If you factor in one hour for family pictures, and it turns out that the bride and/or grooms families give you a personal family shot list that is four or five pages long, you as a wedding photographer are going to have a big problem.  If you plan on a photography start time of 2:00PM and you arrive for pictures on time, only to learn that the hair and makeup people have not arrived because they are stuck in traffic or are coming from another wedding that ran late, then you also have a real problem.  When a wedding photographer is faced with  time crunch. They or someone will need to decide, do I cut the artistic photo time? Or do I cut the posed picture time?  Maybe you could take make-up pictures during the reception?  From experience I can tell you that shooting make up pictures during a cocktail hour, or during a reception doesn’t make many couples happy.  Just married couples would much rather enjoy the cocktail hour which they paid for, instead of taking make-up pictures while everyone else gets to enjoy the cocktail hour.

So let’s get started.  In this article I’m going to include important information to help your photographer avoid problems along the photographic  journey.  At the bottom I’m going to give the photo shot list that you could simply copy and take with you on the wedding day.

Before we start,  let’s talk briefly about equipment and prepping for the wedding.  First equipment, I always bring at least two camera.  I’m not talking about one really good camera and a not so good camera as a back up.   I shoot with two main cameras.  While each camera may be a different model they are both actively used during the wedding.  If one breaks, I can simply use the other camera which is already in use.  Having to switch to an inferior camera in the middle of a wedding is a very bad idea.  I also bring several flashes or strobes, along with extra batteries and a charger.  Just remember this, if you only bring one camera to a wedding,  it is going to break.  This holds true for every photo assignment.  Even if you are shooting an easy portrait shoot, or an engagement session, bring two.  I actually bring three or four cameras to each wedding.

Posed family pictures taken before the wedding ceremony
Groom with his mother, Bride and Groom with Grandmother. Often Grandparents don’t arrive until the end of the posed family pictures.

In regards to memory cards, every wedding photographer has their way of handling memory cards.  I’m not saying my system is the only system, however after years of experience I have determined that the best system for me, is to shoot to two cards at the same time. Most professional cameras accept two memory cards at the same time.  On other words, they have two card slots.   I shoot raw plus .jpg  The raw files are shot to one card and the .jpgs go to the other card.  My memory cards are kept inside a card wallet and each card has a sticky placed on the card.  The idea is that, the sticky gets removed and discarded before the memory card goes into the camera.  This way you can’t accidently insert a used card, or shoot images over the used memory card by mistake.  In my experience I have found that memory cards are very dependable.  If a card is damaged or if a photographer looses images,  it’s usually do to miss-use by the photographer.  As humans we sometimes make mistakes, having a set system to protect a the photographer from human error is the best thing you could do.  The memory card wallet stays with me in my pocket.  My card wallet also has a cord that attaches to my belt.  By wearing the card wallet I know the wedding images will remain safe if your camera gear gets stolen.

Always leave extra early when heading to the wedding venue, it’s best to arrive at least one hour early.  This will give you plenty of time to do a venue walk through before the wedding.  During the walk through you can figure out shooting locations for both posed pictures and creative pictures.

This article is about providing you with a workable wedding photographer shot list.   When writing this I felt that it was important to spend some time talking about my wedding prep and time management.  A shot list means nothing if the photographer doesn’t have enough time to cover the list.   Going forward I’m not going to talk about shooting techniques, lighting or camera settings.   I’m also not going to talk about all the pictures that you need to take during the getting ready pictures, ceremony or reception.  This article is about the posed pictures as well as some ideas for artistic pictures.    So let’s get started.

Fun Groom and Bridesmaids shot taken at Parkland County Club.
Shooting fun pictures like this is a great way to break up the posed pictures while getting one more unique images.

After I have been on site for a while and I’m ready to start photographing I will locate the bride and groom.  Normally they are found in separate rooms.  Often the bride arrives before the groom and the bride hides away in the bridal suite.  I spend my first hour photographing the bride and her girls getting ready for the wedding.  At this time, make sure to photograph the bride mother helping the bride get dressed.  This is a great time to get creative.  I also track down the groom and take pictures of him getting ready as well.   I’m going to assume that the bride and groom are doing a “First Look” this is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time.   For more on the “First Look” check out this article. The First Look

Once the bride and groom have seen each other,  I usually spend about one hour photographing the couple together.   Keep this in mind.  When the bride and groom have their first look, the tendency to spend all the time doing pictures of the couple together.   As the photographer, make sure you tell the groom,  “step aside” while you take pictures of the bride alone, then tell the bride to “step aside” while you photograph the groom alone.  You could also take pictures of the bride with the groom in the background, and the bride with the groom in the background.  Get creative.  If you think ahead, as you should, take pictures of the bride alone before the first look, and also photograph the groom alone before the first look.

Next move on to the wedding party pictures.

The standard wedding party pictures include, the bride and her girls, the groom and his guys, and the wedding party together.  Check out the wedding party pictures on the wedding photographer shot list

Should you photograph the bride with each bridesmaid?   This is going to take some extra time.   I always ask.  The same goes for the groom and each groomsman.

Once the wedding party is finished I move on to the family pictures.

 I follow a sequence starting with the Bride and her Mother, Then it’s Bride and her Father and next Bride with Mother and Father.

Family pictures taken at a South Florida wedding.
Bride with Mother, Bride with Father, Bride with Mother and Father. If you follow a sequence you won’t miss an family members.

After I have the parents covered I move on to the siblings.  At this point I photograph the Bride and her Brother,  Bride with her Sister,  and Bride with her Siblings.  It’s important to get all the siblings photographed with the bride.

If the bride or groom have parents that are separated or divorced.

This could be a tricky situation.  I always ask way before the wedding date who is in the family.  I specifically ask, are there any stepparents?  Then if there are stepparents my next question is,  Does everyone get along?

When shooting stepparents make sure you photograph the following.

Bride with Mother and Stepfather

Bride with Father and Stepmother



The posed wedding photography shot list: 

Before the posed pictures.

Bride with her mother in the bridal suite.

Bride with her girls in the bridal suite

Groom with his parents getting him ready. (if possible)

Groom  with the groomsmen getting ready. (If possible)

After the first look.

Bride alone,  Full length and waist up portraits

Groom alone, Full length and waist up portraits.

Bride and Groom together.

Wedding Party

Group shot, bride with her bridesmaids

Group shot groom with his groomsmen

Bride with each bridesmaid.  – ask(This will take time)

Groom with each groomsman – ask (This will take time)

Entire wedding party, also add in flower girl and ring boy.

Fun pictures with the wedding party.  

Just for fun, Groom with the Bridesmaids & Bride with all the Groomsmen.

Bride’s side family pictures

Bride with Mother

Bride with Father

Bride with Mother and Father

Bride with Sister (each sister)

Bride with Brother (each brother)

Bride with her entire family.

Since you have the entire bride family already posed, you may want to slip in the groom, so that you have the bride and groom with the brides side picture.

 Don’t forget bride’s grandparents.

Groom’s side family pictures

Groom with Mother

Groom with Father

Groom with Mother and Father

Groom with Sister (each sister)

Groom with Brother (each brother)

Groom with her entire family.

Since you have the entire groom’s family already posed, you may want to slip in the bride, so that you have the bride and groom with the brides side picture

 Bride and Groom together with the following:

Bride and Groom together with bride’s family

Bride and Groom together with groom’s family

Bride and Groom with both families together.

Bride and Groom with other relatives.  As a photographer, you are not expected to know who all the other relatives are.  It’s a good idea to ask in advance about other important family members and guests.

If there are step parents,  photograph the following.

Bride with Mother and Step father

Bride with Father and Step mother

Groom with Mother and Step father

Groom with Father or Step mother.

It’s also nice to photograph parents alone together.



Posed family pictures taken after the ceremony inside the church.
This family photo was taken after the wedding ceremony inside the church. In this case the bride and groom did not do a first look. However, there was a large gap of time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the wedding reception.

If the wedding ceremony  is taking place in a church, there is a good chance the bride and groom won’t want to do a first look.  This is perfectly ok as long as there is a long gap of time after the ceremony.  Some of the church weddings I have photographed have a 3 hour time gap between the end of the ceremony and the start of the cocktail hour.

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