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Wedding Photography | Creating the Perfect Shot List

Traditionally on the day of a wedding the families of the bride and groom gather at the front of the church for group pictures. There are long lists of portraits, huge groups of extended family members, and lines of people just waiting around for their turn to be photographed with the bride and groom!
wedding day, family portrait, bride, family, ring bearer
Thankfully those days are quickly disappearing! Today, brides are focused on capturing the story of their day, they want to see emotion, moments, details, and people enjoying their wedding! While family pictures are still an important part of every wedding day, one of the questions that I hear over and over is: What can I do to keep the formal portraiture short and sweet? There’s no simple answer but I usually offer 4 useful tips for designing a great “Must Have” shot list! Of course following these tips when creating your must have shot list won’t guarantee your formal portraits are completely painless, but they should definitely help you make sure you aren’t wasting time taking pictures you won’t treasure later!

Bridal portrait of bride with flowers.1) Keep your list personal! There are a lot of “must have” shot lists out there on sites like TheKnot.com and these can be a great resource for brides looking for ideas but only put the pictures that really are important to you and your family on the list. If you don’t want it hanging on your wall or put it in your photo album you probably don’t need it to be shot formally at the church!

2) Remember, you are creating a list of formal portraits, not telling the photographer what to shoot all day! Hopefully your photographer is a professional with a lot of experience and knows to capture your dad walking you down the aisle so there’s no need to put it on a list! A short list is an easy list to manage even for a busy photographer so don’t clutter it up with a lot of shots he or she will take anyways!

3) Leave your extended family and friends off the list of formal portraits. Trust me, they’d rather snap a fun picture with you later using their own camera so they don’t have to pay for something they just want to put on facebook anyways! Plus, this allows everyone to get to the reception and start having fun sooner and they’ll definitely appreciate that!

4) Ask both families (B+Gs) to contribute one or two shots to the list! It’s an easy way to include your Mother in-law in the planning without giving her to much control and if they think about what portraits they want now you don’t have to worry about them trying to add to your list on the day of the wedding!

So now that you’ve narrowed down that shot list and have the perfect mix of must have shots on it what are you going to do with all the time you saved yourself? Here’s a suggestion… try finding an alternate location for those pictures with your loved ones. Just because people traditionally do their family portraits in front of the alter doesn’t mean you have to or that it’s the best location for beautiful pictures! Be sure to talk with your photographer or wedding planner about the possibilities!
A portrait of the Mother of the bride with the bride.portrait of the groom with his groomsmen on the wedding day at Notre Dame
For more great tips on planning your wedding photography check out my guest post for Stella Event Design here or check out the knot.coms guide for planning your wedding photography!

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