A Photographer’s Perspective on Pinterest & Shot Lists

pinterest board wedding planning shot list mood board

The invention of Pinterest has been both a blessing and a curse for wedding planning: it has provided an endless supply of inspiration and resources, yet it has created a tendency to copy rather than create, which can stifle true innovation.

As a self-admitted perfectionist and overly obsessive planner, I completely understand the temptation to create a shot list or mile-long Pinterest board of every photo you’d like at your wedding. However, I assure you this truly isn’t necessary. The whole reason for hiring a wedding photographer is to able to put your trust in an experienced professional so that you have one less thing to worry about, knowing that your wedding is in good hands.

It may seem like it’s your duty to let me know every shot you’d like me to capture, but I promise you that’s not the case. After shooting nearly 200 weddings, I know all of the standard must-have wedding shots like the back of my hand. (If you’re not sure what’s considered a “standard shot”, you’re welcome look through one of my full wedding galleries. The shots that you see in these galleries are the types of photos we capture at every wedding.)

There is one exception: If you plan to have any unique moments, details, or events at your wedding, please be sure to let me know (there will be a section for this on your Wedding Questionnaire). For instance, any cultural or family traditions, unique family heirlooms, interesting handmade items, small engravings, details located in easy-to-miss areas, surprise events, or any moments that aren’t typically expected at a wedding.

Another exception would be a Family Shot List. While we don’t need an overall shot list of every photo you’d like on your wedding day, it is helpful for us to have a bulleted list of each grouping of family members you’d like us to capture during Family Portraits. (Since we don’t know all of your family members’ names, it helps us be more efficient and organized to be able to call everyone by their name when gathering & arranging the groupings.)


If you’re still feeling tempted, here’s what I recommend:

  • Send me your Pinterest board so I can take a look at it as a whole – this allows me to look for any recurring themes. I might notice that all of the poses you like involve twirling, spinning, walking, etc. which lets me know that you’re drawn to a posing style that involves movement. Or maybe I’ll notice that all of the photos you like were taken in soft, diffused lighting with a wide aperture and shallow depth of field. So much simpler! This way, you can rest assured that I understand what you’re going for while still leaving tons of room for flexibilitycreativity, and artistic freedom.
  • If you have any specific shots you’d really like to try to emulate, you’re welcome to send those my way. Try to limit these to less than 5. Here’s why: if we spend all of our mental energy trying to remember to get those shots and lots of time (your most valuable resource on a wedding day!) & effort trying to recreate those exact photos, there will hardly be any resources left over to capture all the natural, genuine, unique moments that are bound to happen on your wedding day (the ones that actually matter!).
    It takes 5+ minutes to recreate a posed shot. It only takes 1/200th of a second to capture a genuine, candid moment. 

In my 9+ years of experience, I can confidently & honestly say that those truly candid, photojournalistic, “couldn’t have been planned even if we tried” moments are honestly the photos that end up being my couples’ favorites.

FUN FACT: My own sister (who’s also very Type A), sent me a giant shot list for her wedding, and since she’s my sister, I decided to oblige and recreate as many of the photos as possible. Ironically, NONE of her favorite photos (the ones that she ended up choosing as her album cover, profile photo, Instagram photos, and canvas prints) were the photos that were on her shot list. All of her favorite photos were from real, unplanned, genuine moments. She’s now the biggest opponent of shot lists!


So many factors come together to create a photograph: lighting, location, subject, background, even the temperature, the wind, the season, the humidity in the air, and the time of day have an effect on the outcome of a photograph. Even if we spent ten minutes trying to recreate one photo, it’s impossible to recreate exactly the same conditions that were present in a photo you see on Pinterest.

Ask yourself this question:

When your wedding day is over and you receive your album, do you want to look through it and see perfectly replicated photos from a stranger’s wedding day, or do you want to be reminded of your favorite moments from your uniqueirreplaceable, special day?


Read more helpful wedding planning blog posts here.

March 23, 2020

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