Photo Lists

Why It’s Important To Have A Photo List

Your wedding day is such an important occasion. It’s the beginning of your lives together! But it’s only one day. You’ve got to do it right the first time. That’s why you’ll often hear me emphasise: “When it comes to weddings, there are no retakes.”

So it makes sense to give your photographer a list of every photo to take throughout the day, just to ensure they don’t miss anything.

Actually, no.

A short list of important shots is useful (what this list should include is covered further down), but a huge list including every photo for the whole day is a terrible idea and does more harm than good.

Let me explain.

Why Exhaustive Photo Lists Are Bad

Firstly, do you really want your photographer checking through a list all day? Beautiful, unscripted and surprising moments happen all throughout a wedding. Your photographer needs to be watching and ready to capture whatever happens. A photographer checking a list is a distracted photographer and isn’t 100% present.

Secondly, if you’re hiring an experienced wedding photographer, they already know all the commonly important images that need to be taken and will find inspiration for new shots throughout the day. They will also have spoken with you and taken note of the relationships, details and moments that will be uniquely special to your wedding.

Thirdly, you’re restricting your photographer’s creativity by forcing them to work their way through an exhaustive photo list. Photographers are creatively minded people, let them do what they do best!

Two Photographers

If you really want absolutely every angle, every moment and every detail captured, I would recommend that you invest in a second photographer for the day. Most photographers offer a second shooter for an additional fee. But remember, a second photographer will double your coverage, often without doubling the total photography cost. Sounds like a great deal to me!

Engagement Photo Shoot

Investing in an engagement session beforehand lets you get a feel for your photographer’s style and enables them to better understand your personal preferences and your relationship as a couple.

Don’t forget that after your wedding, you’re going to be married for the rest of your lives. Which is awesome. But right now, you’re in this magical time where you have a fiancé and you’re engaged. This is a special time worth remembering. I personally treasure our engagement images as much as our wedding photos. Perhaps you will too.


I encourage my couples to share with me their pinterest board of their favourite wedding inspiration images. This helps me get on the same page of what you’re after visually. But remember it’s just a guide. We want to create amazing images unique to you and your day, not recreate someone else’s wedding.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

You can’t perfectly plan your wedding day because you can’t perfectly predict how the day will unfold. Planning is definitely important, but on the day you have to roll with the punches and remember it’s a special day to be enjoyed. Small details not going exactly to plan are simply insignificant compared to the importance of your wedding day. Nothing is more upsetting to witness than a wedding day drama over a tiny detail. 

What Should Be On Your Photo List

Friend And Family Dynamics

Best friends and family members are important for your photographer to be familiar with. You’re going to want more images that include these people. Your photographer also needs to know a little about the family dynamics. For example, are mum and dad divorced? Is there a rowdy uncle I need to photograph before he gets stuck into the bar tab? Are there any young relationships where I should subtly get a photo without the new partner, “just incase”?

Details, Details, Details

Let your photographer know anything that’s extra special or sentimental to you. I try to capture all the details at a wedding, because small details tell big stories about your relationships, your unique personalities and what you value in life. But still, it’s useful for your photographer to know the things they absolutely cannot miss!

Be You

Whatever images you do ask your photographer to specifically capture, make sure it’s something that actually suits you. I pose my subjects in ways suitable for them, because different angles and expressions suit different people. Just like your makeup artist will suggest products and styles specifically for your complexion or how different dresses and suits will suit different body types.


It’s usually always better to capture natural moments as they happen, rather than try to re-create something. You’ll find your images are more authentic and your memory of the moment will be something special to you, rather than a remembered feeling of “being posed”. It’s great to tell your photographer some ideas of what you want to do with your partner or bridal party, like dancing in the marquee, relaxing by the lake, running through the vineyard, or whatever! You just don’t need to tell your photographer the exact moments to capture because they’re going to happen naturally and your photographer will be ready to catch them.

How To Plan Your Day For The Best Photos

I recommend asking your photographer’s advice for all the following points. Your photographer will instinctively know how each location will photograph even if they haven’t shot there before. They will also know how long to allow for photos throughout the day. They’ve likely experienced and dealt with more wedding dramas than you could imagine! Listen to their advice, it’s a big part of what you’re paying for.

Backgrounds And Lighting

Pick locations that will enable the type of images you want. This sounds simple but it’s an easy oversight to make. My wife and I wanted our wedding photos to have lots of trees and greenery with no concrete in sight! Because we need to feel connected to nature. We love bushwalking, hiking and escaping the city. We wanted our photos to reflect this, so we allowed more time for photos in the forest after our ceremony than we did at the city reception venue.

Lighting is also important. The sun is in different locations throughout the day and throughout the year. Sometimes it’s even necessary to know the moon rising times and high/low tide times depending on the shots or locations in mind.

Quality over quantity

Doing one thing properly is always so much better than doing lots of things poorly. And again, you should be relaxed and in a peaceful state of mind on your wedding day. Not rushing around like a maniac. Consider this when deciding on photo locations.

If you try to fit 3 locations in the time between your ceremony and reception, you can expect:

  • Spending a significant amount of your wedding day in the backseat of a car (not ideal, no matter how fancy the car).
  • Being rushed at each location. This will lessen your experience and make capturing “fun and candid” moments almost impossible.
  • Missing out on your wedding day. 

Many of the couples I photograph tell me that their favourite memory of the whole day was when they stopped for fifteen minutes (or less) and simply took in the moment, enjoyed being with each other and reflected on the huge milestone they just accomplished.

There is quite often one location nearby that offers all the photo opportunities you need. Your photographer should be able to help you find the best spot.

Personally, when I’m out and about anywhere, I’m closely observing the area and thinking; is this a good location for wedding photos? What time of day will the light be best here? Are the backgrounds interesting? Is there convenient parking? Will it be too busy on a weekend?

A photographer’s vision of a location will likely be very different to yours, however only you will know places of personal significance and where you’re most comfortable, so it’s important to have a conversation and share ideas.

Allow Time For Photo Opportunities

Make sure to allow time for photos throughout the day. This is important! If there isn’t time for a photo, then you don’t get to have that photo taken. This is why you’ll want your photographer’s advice for the entire day schedule.

To give a quick example of a seemingly simple part of the day, let’s consider time to allow for family photos after your ceremony.

Let’s say your ceremony is scheduled to finish at 3pm. Does that mean family photos start at 3pm? Unlikely. After your ceremony, friends and family are going to want to run up and hug you both, say congratulations, tell you how beautiful you look, etc,. I wouldn’t dream of interrupting such special moments, and I’ll also be too excited to photograph it all.

So how long do you allow for this “hugs and kisses” part of the day?

That depends! How many guests will you have? Did they travel interstate for the wedding? (If so, this might be the first time they’ve seen you for a while and you’ll want more chatting time.) I would usually say something like 10-20 minutes is appropriate. This might seem like an insignificant detail, but if you don’t allow that 15 minutes in the schedule, you might miss out on some of your potentially favourite images from the day. Plus, if your ceremony is behind schedule and you don’t have a buffer in the timings, you can end up being behind schedule and rushed for the rest of the day. You don’t want that!

Get Your Photographer’s Advice

Finally, at risk of repeating myself, ask for your photographers advice. They’re experienced and can plan for things you wouldn’t know to think of. You don’t know what you don’t know! Plus, what’s the point of hiring a professional if you don’t take their advice?

Hiring a professional photographer is the best step you can take when planning for the best wedding photos. But a short photos list and pinterest inspiration board can help your creative visions align and make sure the most special moments to you aren’t missed.

Remember, for beautiful candid moments with great memories attached, you need to be relaxed and stress free. To be relaxed and stress free, you need to plan for it to be so.

Guest Blog Author: William Gordon

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