Wedding Photography Shot List

Wedding Photography Shot List: Getting Ready

As your wedding day approaches it’s a good idea to begin considering your wedding photography shot list. If you’re working with an experienced wedding photographer he or she already has a pretty good idea of the shots you’re going to want, but clear communication between the bride and her photographer and videographer is always highly recommended. A wedding photography shot list you can email to your photographer in advance of the wedding is the way to go. Some of my clients request special set up shots, like a a recent New York City wedding client who requested a photo of her with her bridesmaids sitting on the bed drinking champagne in their matching robes. It was an important shot for her so putting it on the shot list insured it wasn’t forgotten in the rush. An it’s ALWAYS a rush. This same bride gave her fiancé a puppy (as her wedding present) just before he got dressed and wanted to make sure I was going to be there in his suite to capture it, so yes, if you have ideas and important moments/events you’d like photographed, put them on your list.

I recommend having 2 lists. List number 1 is the shots you absolutely have to have. List number 2 should be other shots that would be great if time allows. When I shoot a wedding I always have a pen and a printed client shot list in my inside coat pocket. I make sure my assistants and associate photographers each have a copy as well. We refer to our shot lists constantly and check off shots that are captured. Keep in mind, the longer the list the easier it is for an important shot and unexpected moments to get lost in the mix, so an A list and a B list is a good idea and make sure to asterisk any shots that are absolute must haves.

When considering the shot list below also understand that one of the most important ingredients for memorable getting ready photos is going to be the interactions between you and your wedding party and your fiancé and his wedding party, so put on some music, pop the champagne, eat some delicious food and enjoy yourself. If the bride is having fun so is everyone else, so let the party happen and great photographic moments will follow.

Wedding Photography Shot List: Getting Ready Photos

1. Rings

I usually shoot the rings together because of the symbolism. Sometimes I photographs them in the bud of a flower and other times I’ll use the bride’s veil or a texture in the bridal suite as a background or to add color to the frame.

2. Dress:

The dress should always be shot before it’s put on and while it’s being put on. Sometimes I shoot the dress hanging backlit in a window or maybe being steamed by the bride’s sister, it usually depends on the location and what environmental, design details, and lighting is available. It’s also nice to capture close-up details like ribbons, buttons, and lace.


3. Shoes:

Shoes can be shot alone, with the dress, or even with the jewelry in the foreground. On a recent New York Wedding the bride glued a penny to the bottom of one shoe and wrote in glitter marker, “I DO” on the bottom of the other. I shot the shoes alone and then made a fun portrait of the bride showing off the bottoms of the shoes with a big smile on her face.

4. Other Details:

Make sure to bring at least one full invitation set for your photographer to capture. A nice simple graphic composition of all the invitations together on a dark wood table or a quilted duvet cover can look pretty sharp. Make sure to include detail shots of flowers, jewelry, and accessories like a chic clutch or your grandmother’s broach. One of my Newport destination wedding brides brought several vintage framed photographs of her grandmother’s wedding day and set them up on a dresser in her bridal suite. Her grandmother had recently passed so this was an important detail for her. Architectural and design details of the hotel and bridal suite are also nice scene-setters for the beginning of your album.

5. Hair and Makeup:

Can you say “Princess for a day?”  I never met a bride who didn’t thoroughly enjoy getting her hair and makeup done by a team of talented beauty professionals. Make sure your photographer arrives early enough to capture at least the last hour of hair and makeup for the bride and the mothers of the bride and groom. Bride or groom’s sisters should also be photographed if they’re present. Consider close up shots of eyeliner, lipstick, and lashes being applied as well as the wider environmental shots which will work nicely together when juxtaposed in your album.

6. Bridal Party:

A group shot of the bridal party is always fun and should be captured after everyone’s hair and makeup is done. Whether you’re all in your robes sitting on a big sofa drinking mimosas, or you’re all dressed and ready to do this, it’s always a good idea to have a bridal party shot(s) on your getting ready list.

7. Moments With Your Parents:

This one needs no explanation. Caught moments are great but make sure to take some time for some quick portraits with mom and dad as well as sister and brothers. This shouldn’t be very formal as it will eat into your timeline. Just make it a point to make sure your photographer documents some of these moments.Your parents will be excited and emotional in the final minutes before you make your exit and this excitement always makes for wonderful images.

8. Gifts Given and Received:

Puppy dogs, diamond earrings, monogramed neck ties, keys to a new car and love notes still wet with the tears of the sender; I’ve photographed many gifts-given over the years and these moments are often some of the most emotional and photogenic of the day. Same rules apply, make sure to let your photographer know about these moments in advance so they can be ready before the first tear rolls down your cheek.

9. The Boys:

I love hanging with the guys in their man-cave. Usually there’s sports on the TV, whisky on the table, and like all reunions, plenty of storytelling. The key shots here are the guys hanging out before they get dressed, the groom shaving and doing his hair in the mirror, groom getting dressed, finishing details like close up of cufflinks, watch, fixing his tie and putting oh his shoes. Beyond that some nice caught moments of the groom with his boys and you’re good to go.

10. The Exit:

The getting ready ends when you make your exit. I always try to grab some caught moments of the bride and her bridal party walking down the hall to the elevator and exiting the hotel to a waiting car. It’s that moment when the door to the bridal suite closes behind the bride that everything suddenly gets super real (as in OH MY GOD I”M ACTUALLY DOING THIS!) and the mixture of nervous energy and excitement makes for some unforgettable images.

by Joshua Lawrence Kogan


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