50 'Must Have' Wedding Photography Shots

50 ‘Must Have’ Wedding Photography Shots

Image by Bill DAgostino

Wedding Image by Bill D'Agostino

On the few occasions that I’ve been asked to photograph weddings by friends I always found it helpful to create a list of shots that I wanted to take on the day. I found that setting out a list with the couple of not only ‘WHERE’ they wanted shots but also some of the different combinations of WHO they wanted IN the shots was helpful.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the day and realizing that no one took a picture of Aunt Mildred or that you only got shots of one set of parents with the bride and groom and not the other side of the family!

Earlier in the week Brian Delia from The New Jersey Wedding Photographer sent me a list of 50 ‘must have shots’ for weddings (although many of them are actually multiple shots so taking them all will leave you with potentially hundreds).

While I highly recommend adjusting and customizing it for the couple whose wedding you are photographing (if this is all you took you could end up with a somewhat cliched album) it certainly makes a worthwhile starting point for the type of shots you might want to capture on the day.

Here are the ‘must have’ shots:

Wedding Photography Shot List

  1. Prep Shots – Bride & Groom
  2. The Dress – Hanging or Draped
  3. The North Window Shot – Bride facing out northern most window
  4. Bride walking down stairs
  5. Bride looking out (window or door)
  6. Maid of Honor & Brides Mom – Zipping Dress
  7. Bride Applying Make Up
  8. Groom Fixing Hair
  9. Grooms Father & Best Man – Attaching Boutonnière to grooms lapel
  10. Groom Checking the Time
  11. Groom with Grooms Men & Fathers
  12. Bride with Bridesmaids & Mothers
  13. Bride with Mother & Father (also grandparents)
  14. Groom with Mother & Father (also grandparents)
  15. Bride Limo – Groom Limo
  16. Bride & Groom – Exiting Limo (Bride being helped out)
  17. Groom waiting at altar
  18. Church Wide Shot (with & without guests)
  19. Bride walking down aisle ( Side Profile & Front )
  20. Father giving away bride
  21. Groom over the shoulder shot of bride ( & Vis Versa)
  22. Holding hands – Bride and Groom
  23. Bride & Groom Kiss
  24. Bride & Groom Leaving Church ( Receiving Line)
  25. Bride & Groom – Inside Limo Shot
  26. Reception/Banquet Hall Outside shot
  27. Food Shots (Cocktail Hour, Drinks, etc.)
  28. Shot of each table full of guests
  29. Shots of Bride & Groom with & without family
  30. Bride and Groom Portraits
  31. Bride & Groom with Bridesmaids & Groomsmen
  32. Bride and Groom Hand & Ring Portraits
  33. First Dance
  34. Bride & Father Dance
  35. Groom & Mother Dance
  36. Bouquet Toss
  37. Guarder Belt Toss
  38. Cake Cutting, Bride and Groom Feeding each other
  39. Misc. Guests Dancing
  40. Bride & Groom Eating
  41. Best Man & Maid of Honor Toast/Speeches
  42. Bride & Groom Toast/Speeches
  43. Centerpieces & Flower/Decorations
  44. Guestbook Signatures
  45. Small Children Dancing with Bride & Groom
  46. Bride & Groom’s Parents Dancing (Plus Grandparents)
  47. Venetian Hour Photos (Coffee, Ice Cream, Etc)
  48. Bride & Groom giving away wedding favors
  49. Groom Giving Coat to Bride
  50. Bride & Groom “Just Married” Vehicle – Driving Away

What other ‘must have’ wedding shots would you add to the list? I’m sure between us we could add another 50 or so!

PS: one shot that Brian definitely missed from the list was ‘Bride Swimming in Her Dress at the Beach’ (note: this is actually a dangerous practice. The weight of water on such a big dress has been known to lead to drownings. Please be careful).

Image by Mike Baird

Image by Mike Baird

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Caroline Blair July 14, 2013 03:46 am

    I like rings in a seashell on the beach with bouquet nearby also, makes a NICE pic. Somewhere at the reception, a foggy mirror, the beach sand, etc, Just married/ the names of bride and groom and date/something like this can be added.

  • Caroline Blair July 14, 2013 03:44 am

    AND, it is GARTER, not Guarder belt!!! Dear GOD, hope no one takes that off and tosses it! LOVE all the suggestions, however. AND, I actually DID take the bride and groom in the ocean! I also took pics on the beach AFTER the wedding and took out ALL the ppl behind them, so it looked like they were alone. Was MOST proud, looked grand.

  • april June 29, 2013 02:49 pm

    I like no. 28 im getting marred july 6th ..in like 7 days and this list is great I love it...

  • Dark April 29, 2013 03:10 am

    Ok.. I had my first screw up for me. I have been photographing lots of weddings and always getting the great shots for last 6+ years.

    My suggestion on a lessoned learned for me so you don't make the same mistake as this:
    : Make sure to be somewhat pushy to get the shots when it comes to the family and bride/groom after the wedding portrait session and call the place they want their photos done at too.

    I had a situation where the BRIDE insisted on wanting to call a park to make sure it was free for the weekend. I find out the day of the shoot when we get there; she had not done this. :(
    There was another wedding going on. It is a very very small niche park and the park had just put down new grass. They had the whole place fenced off with ugly orange construction temporary fencing. I feel sorry for the wedding that was going on there. Makes for some tough photo options when there is ugly fence in almost every area of the park.

    Needless to say it was also very very humid, hot and no wind. NONE. Weather Changed drastically (was supposed to have thundershowers all day). So the bride was sweeting buckets and she was a larger bride with a heavy dress/veil. So the we had a lot of factors against us.

    On top of that all the while the bride was too hot and tired to take photos. She was supposed to allow us all 45 min to take the shots. I got 10 min. Took 20min just to drive there off site. She was so insistant on being on time for the entire day that I basically got a couple of shots. Which all came out fine and even got some cute shots but nothing like the creative shots I was really needing to capture. ( ie. the soft hand on chest looking at camera, hands from below with the sky and them in the shot (wide angle & a few more looking at one another shots and some more fun shots and few more of the bride alone). They were happy to know that I got them with a peacock close by in the photo. It didn't show it's feathers but was beautiful non the less. The background was less than pretty (no ugly orange fencing) and not much to look at but it was green.

    So I was disappointed with what I got. :/ & that I was not more pushy with getting the shots and getting her into the limo to cool off for a few minutes then getting back out there and finishing them up. But I think as her father was the $; she probably felt obligated to get to the reception on time. Mind that we were NOT late but that her wedding was too long (went over) and she took too long getting ready. So I had to do the her family pics after ceremony on-top of all the other family photos in less than 30 mins. She had a guest list of 250 people. Large wedding.

    She said she was fine with it and I asked her if she was sure she was ok not getting anymore shots and she said it was fine.
    Mind you all: I did this one as a wedding gift for friends. No pay. So I guess she couldn't really argue if she wanted to. but I just felt like I had dropped the ball with the creativity. I actually drew a blank. Never happens to me; that day it did. Too big of a wedding even with 2 other photographers.

    I still regret this and one other thing. Make sure you check your settings of your F stops going in and out of places. I missed ONE important shot I thought tied the families together because the ONE time I didn't check a test shot; I washed out the people. So double check. It only takes a second and don't worry about the crabby asses the people can be taking photos. They will complain all the way kicking and screaming but at least you will have the shot in the end. You can get shots in a matter of 30 minutes. which is how it took to do ALL the families and it will still be too long for some.

    But out of all the 1700+ photos I took. Those couple I wanted and ONE i missed I think I did very well.

    Word of advice (Breaks): Do not take a break during the wedding unless you absolutely know that no one or nothing is going on at the time. do it in the car on the way to the next place. I had 2 shooters helping me and they were NOT up to par with that. They wanted to take a break right before the cake cutting and didn't want to stay for the whole event. They sat and ate food for over 30 mins. A 2nd/3rd shooter for a wedding is no less important. Not taking the time for this couples day can keep you from getting those shots that make up the whole story.

    Weddings are NOT like regular jobs where you get paid lunches and breaks. You go till the end. This is someone's only day they are getting married and you dont' get 2nd chances. So you have to always keep in mind that you always must be on the game and 100% on que for all those necessary shots that need to be made. It is there day and their wedding. Just cause your feet hurt and you are hungry for one evening your body can deal with it. Some weddings allow time for this; others dont so eat before you go and take small bathroom breaks if necessary. Bring some gum, mints whatever to tide you over and eat in your car on the way to the 2nd place.

    Weddings are long, tough and give you a great workout - the pay sucks and the hours suck but it is all worth it. I think! It is great to see how each wedding where the people see what is important to them and how they view their idea of a perfect wedding. I love meeting new people and by the end of the night; I know pretty much everyone and they feel so comfortable with me that they want me to sit, hang out, dance and enjoy the party with them. And for a couple of mins. I do.

    It may have been one of the largest and hardest weddings I have ever done but at least my girl has photos of her day. May not be the "creative" ones you see on the internet and pinterest but non-the less she has beautiful photos of her day! and of her family. That was the most important pics for her. I got those.

    Tips for the Bride: ALLOW TIME FOR YOUR PICTURES!!! PLAN PLAN PLAN!! BEAUTIFUL PICTURES TAKE TIME! I don't care if other "pros" say, "well I could get those shots in 2 seconds". They are lying through their teeth. You need a bounce usually, a speedlight (one) and a cooperative bride willing to relax long enough to get the shot. Brides; relax and enjoy the moment. They won't start with out you both and they will wait a long time to see you both. So get those pics done! Most people I have found now-a-days want Walgreens in your pocket.
    there is No patience anymore for us photographers thanks to cheap printers, prints and Iphones. If you don't allow time for creative shots you will not get those. PERIOD! Timing is everything and allow your photographer to do their job is essential. Really! We can get the shots (if were pros) that look like they came out of a magazine but we have to be allowed to do our jobs and time to do those shots. there is no EASY button. A shoot usually takes about 30- 45 minutes sometimes people will take 1 1/2hrs to take a shoot. If you think you wont have time; do the shoot a few days before. It's not necessary for you NOT to be able to see your groom. Your both calm and relaxed and the stress of a wedding days events are not there to keep you from looking your best. Then you can have a slideshow or digital prints placed around the wedding of you two for your guests to ooh at.

    Also Brides:
    Do not get upset with your photographer if these shots do no end up playing out due on the fact of your lack of planning or time management skills. Brides, you spend a lot of money and time on your dress, the reception, the food, the church etc etc. Make sure that you are spending a lot of time making sure you can allow your photographer time to take the photos of the stuff you worked so hard to show off to others. If you don't; you will wish you had.

    This was a big lesson learned for me and although my bride was totally fine with not getting those shots; it will always stay with me. Good Luck and just make sure you scout your areas/places first and make sure your brides know that it takes time to go from location to location; so they need to take that into consideration when planning your shoot that day.

    Good Luck :)

  • Ann April 15, 2013 11:00 am

    A few you missed:
    1) Groom and bridesmaids
    2) Bride and maid of honor
    3) Bride right before walking down the isle
    4) Groom and maid of honor
    5) Just the altar
    6) Bride being held sideways by bridesmaids

  • Rich March 1, 2013 07:36 am

    i have shot nearly 3000 weddings since I started back in 1971. They have been of many denominations and ranged from 10 people to 900, from venues such as a Moose Lodge Hall to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Chicago. Just a word to those folks starting out: Do what I did. I went out with a very experienced wedding photographer and just watched him for 2 full church weddings, starting at the brides's home, then church for the ceremony and formals, then outdoors for portraits and groups, wrapping up with full coverage at the reception including all tables. I took notes on everything he did, and even sketched out his posing and grouping, while noting his camera and flash settings. The third wedding saw me assist him by shooting as the second photographer. My results were critiqued by him and the studio owner. I did this 2 more times, before I felt comfortable to shoot a small wedding by myself. I carried a shot list and my sketches and notes. The armpits dripped sweat but I got through o.k. with a good set of images. The bride referred some friends to the studio and I was requested. That started my career. I would urge anyone just starting out: look at websites of all the wedding photographers that have styles you like; read posts like this one to get your knowledge of what needs to be covered; know your gear inside and out so you never ever have to worry about the technical end; and have back up gear equivalent to your primary gear: that means back up cameras, lenses, flash units, memory cards, etc. Weddings are fun but highly stressful if things fall apart due to circumstances out of your control. Don't ever let on that you are frustrated or not in control of yourself. Check ahead of time with the bride, groom, parents of each, clergyman, reception catering department, florist, limo service, and anyone connected with the wedding. Get their input and guidelines and you will be truly prepared. Oh yeah, practice, practice, practice and play the wedding day in your mind before it happens. Plan out your responses if things head south during the day or evening. You WILL get through it and give your client a memorable (hopefully for the right reasons!!!) set of images.

  • David December 19, 2012 09:10 pm

    Thank you for your clarity in your post and sharing your opinion, we all have a lot diferents prefered shoots but it's good to know your vision.
    Kind regards.
    Fotografo de bodas Madrid

  • Richard November 30, 2012 11:30 pm

    I prefer offer the couple shots of the groups from the tables seated (relaxed and or formal) on a couch/es away from the half glasses of refreshments and wine bottles.. This 'fun corner' is set up prior to the reception with strobist kit and the MC calls on each table group to doddle over and have some fun group shots.. This way the couple will have good images of everyone who attended their wedding, and in some cases the 'characters' add to the merriment by posing / acting out. Either way, the a variety of great pix are created for the couple to select from and enjoy.. I get to control the lighting!!

  • Estella November 9, 2012 10:22 am

    Just desire to say your article is as amazing.
    The clarity in your post is just nice and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  • Jenny August 17, 2012 05:23 pm

    A very helpful list ! We attended a wedding where the young amateur photographer was so close- up and in their faces during the vows that she was reprimanded by the preacher to back off!
    Good idea to have a long lens as a wedding guest. Never thought of it.

    ps it's a Garter belt. Not guarder.

  • Photographer chicago April 13, 2012 07:15 pm

    As digital camera models are more superior it can be turning out to be much easier for most people to achieve attractive results whenever using photos. However, having an newbie wedding ceremony ...Wedding photography

  • michea daniel March 23, 2012 05:56 pm

    I am a photographer and I shoot basically weddings, I do almost all of this shoots. I I agree wit all coz I understand all shoot description shoots. 1 I always like to take is bride n groom cover d vail and kissing and brides maids n grooms men blowing a kiss to the newly wed. I love this

  • nd joe March 1, 2012 10:34 pm

    I v been into professional photography for like 10 years running but learning never
    Ends. This has been most helpful. Pls feel free to ask , suggest or inform me on any issues
    On phtography...photography is fun

  • Jack February 11, 2012 03:08 am

    It seems very photography 101. I hope you're not actually giving this list to the photographer... These posts are good for an amature finding out what ot expect, but any professional will capture these moments without some silly list. If there are special things a couple wants captured that's cool, but dress shots and getting ready...really....we need a list for this?? If you don't trust your photographer then don't hire them.

  • I.H.C January 24, 2012 05:27 am

    Just go with the flow and enjoy..just keep on shooting !!!!!!!!!
    the list will come in handy :>)

  • godspyro83 January 9, 2012 11:41 am

    1. Bride with sisters
    2. Bride with brothers
    3. Bride with nieces and nephews (if she has any)
    4. Bride and groom with nieces and nephews (if they have any)

    Just some that we mite be doing at my sister's wedding.

  • thaddeus December 2, 2011 12:53 pm

    A starting point for the starting photographer. Good idea

  • Louis Blythe November 18, 2011 12:18 pm

    The amount of crazy shot lists I receive from brides is enough to drive anyone crazy! Not to mention that fact that they just Google it the copy past it and send it straight to me via email. Brides need to understand that they are purchasing a vision of the day. Couples are collaborators in the day not models! (well maybe a little)

  • Wedding Photographer November 1, 2011 03:42 am

    As with all wedding vendors, the results will be much better if you discuss your expectations ahead of time.
    On the wedding day, we would want to make sure that the photographer captures those essential details we worked so hard on. So if we want to help him or her out, it is a great list of "must-take" wedding photography shots. I would recommend checking off the essentials above, and add any of your own creative ones. But don't check off too many – you'll want the photographer to have some time for creative license.

  • Cal Boomer October 19, 2011 11:18 am

    NOT "guarder belt" toss - it's a garter and there should not be any "belt" attached !

  • MaxG October 15, 2011 11:57 am

    What started out as a traditional list of shots turned into a marvel of contributions!

    @frustrated, enough said;

    @nicole: I truly appreciate the effort you have put into your posts. They are honest, straight to the point, very informative, in fact the posts are a must read no matter what your level of skill... lots to learn in it!

    When I was thinking about the "revealed secrets" in your posts I came to realise that it doesn't matter what gear one has, combined with all the wizardry -- one either understands what "painting with light" means or not. There more talent (natural or acquired), the better the outcome; the gear is just a mere tool. If one can't put the two together no dollar paid does it make any better.

    Good on'ya Nicole, you've said it all -- and better than me :)

  • tim gray October 13, 2011 02:52 am

    @Carlos Loeza:

    What you are charging I would lose money. Gas costs, camera cleaning and gear cleaning costs alone would eat up the amount you are charging. The Cheapest I have ever charged was $500.00 for a friend to cover my costs and the pay of my second photographer. In fact I lost money on that but I called it a Gift when I gave them several canvas prints and a leatherbound photobook.

    You need to look up your costs first. You are going to have your cameras cleaned just before the wedding right? Nothing like a dust speck in every photo to ruin the entire job.

  • Peter Holme September 16, 2011 08:57 am

    There does not appear to be a full group of all the guests with bride & groom outside the church. I usually do this immediately the couple have come out of the church then go to the smaller individual groups this allows the guests to take their own photos (I know but you are not going to stop them) or leave for the reception

  • Jodi September 9, 2011 05:33 am

    Thank you so much for this list! Saved me a bunch of time :)

  • Bernhard July 30, 2011 11:45 am

    thank you very much, that is a good overview of a wedding photography shot list

  • Wedding photography July 21, 2011 10:13 pm

    Wedding photography.One of the most memorable event during wedding.And Wedding photographer is the responsible on the event.
    When people ask me what do you like to do in your spare time, my answer is always photography.
    I guess I am pretty lucky to have a job that I love so much that it’s my hobby as well!

  • maude April 26, 2011 04:07 am

    this list has been very helpful..im very much an amateur so its nice to have a list as a guideline so i can go over it with my niece (the bride) hopefully i wont be an "uncle joe" lol i have no wish to be a professional photographer just a good amateur :) so i hopefully have brought away with me from these comments what to do and what not to do...crosses my fingers that i do a good job for her :) thanks to all for the comments :) and thanks to the man who posted the list :)

  • Mr.ATUL JOSHI April 25, 2011 05:30 am

    thanks i like your tips.mostly i am doing asian hindu wedding but some time i got cristan wedding so this type of your tips i really need.
    for asian indian hindu wedding important ceremony must cover like 1.ganesh sthapna, 2.Mandap Muharat, 3.pithi, 4.grah santi, 5.mamera, 6.barat, 7. ponkhnu, 8.varmala, 9.swagatam, 10.hastmelap , 11.phera, 12.kansar, 13.sapta padi, 14.mangal sutra, 15.mang bhra sajna, 16.vdai. 17.potrait & family grouping.
    thanks this is as per my knowledgde.
    atul video.
    +91 9821044270
    mumbai ,indian

  • DanDerby April 24, 2011 03:39 am

    I suspect - "frustrated" not withstanding - that the roots of "Must Have" picture lists may have originated from the days when only film was shot. Being more technically challenging, way more expensive per shot and unable to absolutely know that he's "got the shot", such traditional photography asked for these lists. This enabled them to become skilled at and focused on specific shots, standard lighting, 'creative' poses, etc. so they wouldn't fail to meet the couple's expectations. You could look at their portfolio and know what your wedding pictures were going to be.

    With the almost simultaneous introduction of digital capture and photojournalistic style wedding photography, lists of "must have" shots became way less important and often, a bit irrelevant. A good photojournalist follows the couple's day like "white on rice", paying attention to what makes his/her couple, their family and their day unique ...and captures it. He/she can shoot more and faster with digital for less cost and still know he/she 'got the shot'. Coupled with artistic skill, today's photographer has a huge amount of artistic freedom and, in the hands of a competent professional, gives the couple confidence all of their day will be captured and thrilled when it's done beautifully.

    Sure, there are important shots that someone will want, someday. Or someone they love (Aunt Mable?) will want. But, more and more, couples ask me for something that reflects not a traditional list of 'must have' shots but their own day's story. Where on these shot lists does someone say "Picture of bride touching her deceased father's picture." or "Picture of bride on stage with band, rocking out."

    My point is that each wedding, like each marriage - each life for that matter - is unique and the more "Must have" you have, the less likely you are to have your real day captured.

  • Newbie_Lad April 22, 2011 07:09 am

    This list is fantastic! esp. for a newbie like me ;-) Thanks Darren for another great contribution!
    Also, thanks Charlotte..for ya suggestion on Judy's site...great stuff there too!

  • jef nolan April 16, 2011 01:50 pm

    interview before the wedding, on going communication a month, a week before the wedding should get their desires to you. You'd better be ready by the wedding day with what the Bride and Groom want. But one thing I have noticed, if you miss a "secondary" traditional shot (as opposed to a primary shot) they won't care that much if your "candid" shots are many, diversified and great. And be ready to add additional bride and groom requests on the wedding day.

  • SK_CHICAGO April 15, 2011 05:23 pm

    @frustrated: I saw the link you posted... Sorry to say but I don't think modern photographers are so modern and so unique that they can't use tips from here...I can tell you there are many things those photographer can learn and get better....


    I personally don't think the photography on that site is above average.

  • Charlotte April 13, 2011 02:43 am

    I read all the comments. Ultimately it is the PHOTPGRAHERS sytle and artistic impression of a wedding that makes a client hire a photographer to take thier wedding photos. (I'm happy being a second shooter-tried primary-not for me)
    I have a few favs. I like to read/look at thier blogs.

    http://www.photosbyamber.net- Amber Walters photographer
    http://www.photosbyjkay.com - Judy Kay bryan- photographer

  • Matthew T Rader January 7, 2011 07:22 pm

    That's a great list of "must take" photos! Thank you for sharing and posting this!

    I gave some good suggestions for people looking to hire a photographer on my website as well: http://infinitemagicphoto.com/2011/01/must-take-wedding-photos/

  • roy p. October 29, 2010 10:08 am

    please add to the list:

    1>child messed-up the cake.
    2>bearers crying.
    3> sleeping child during ceremony.

  • Jorge Chavez October 27, 2010 08:35 am

    I think that there must be a balance of price and love for what you do, I love what I do, and money does not dictate the quality of my work, what it dictates is the type of package they are wiling to pay, but even if they choose the cheapest package, I will give them the best photographs i am able to take, because I love what I do, in the other hand, you have to think that in a wedding, they pay a lot of money for the hall, the food, the drinks, the limo, etc, and most want to get a bargain on their photographer, so what i say is that we also have to put a monetary value to your work, that is if you make a living on photography.

  • Mysti October 15, 2010 11:33 pm

    My dad paid 5k for my wedding photographer because he claimed to do a shoot with Martina McBride. We were in a hurry and we hired him on the spot.I never ordered any pictures from him because they were all for lack of better word, crappy! He actually had a rubber ducky and said squeak squeak. He took the photos in a tremendous hurry and did not pay attention to detail.Ex: if my vail was not sitting correctly or my train not spread out. He took photos below eye level which was very unflattering to everyone. I later took my dress and went to Olan Mills and spent abou 200 and finally got the mantel shot that my dad wanted to begin with. It's a shame that people think $=quality.

    I can thank this terrible photographer for one thing though. Now I do photography. Because I new I could have done a way better job myself with just a tripod and remote than he did! I only charge what I know the couple can afford. If it be 100 or 800. The fact is I do what I love and if I make $100 dollars having fun, then I am happy and the couple is happy! I will have to admit I do live in a tiny country town (No red lIght) and people that pay thousands usually won't use a local photographer anyway. Plus I am still amuture.

  • Steve Jones September 22, 2010 04:46 am

    Hey Nicole:
    and oh yeah, DITTO!
    PS. I find it very helpful to have a talented, professional second shooter who also hires me for their second shooter. In this way, non circumventure and work for hire agreements in place, I am busy most of the year.

  • Jared September 3, 2010 07:52 am

    I would probably say that some of these could be discretionary. Some people don't necessarily want certain shots. For my wedding I didn't care for the "Prep shots" of me. As a photographer a lot of these shots just come natural as being a part of the wedding. I always make sure that if there are any special shots the bride wants, I take them.

  • mark davidson July 28, 2010 01:25 pm

    you gotta be kidding me. if a bride handed me this list i'd had her money back.

  • Ruth Burghdorf June 11, 2010 07:37 am

    I have found so many of your tips helpful, I am not a professional photographer,but have been hired for several jobs and a wedding....I want to thank you for having so much information that is easily accesable and understandable ..........I started taking pics at my Grandmothers before she passed so I would always be able to see her her home and farm, and now every thing I see is a subject to be photographed....

  • raj June 11, 2010 04:20 am

    what are the best lenses for the wedding photography and what type of lighting equipmet can we use while doing the wedding photography.

  • JHG April 24, 2010 01:03 am

    - a picture of every guest born in January
    - a picture of every guest born in February
    - &c
    - a picture of every guest born in December

    You can use these 12 pictures to create a special birthday calender with the approriate picture above each month.

  • janine March 30, 2010 11:56 am

    I know it's late, but I just came across this post and wanted to say thanks to Nicole, for your great comments and detailed info. ITA with everything you had to say.

  • Julliette March 7, 2010 02:39 pm

    This is a great start! As mentioned in a few of the posts, however, get CREATIVE! Using the theme of the wedding, location, and props you can make fabulous photos weather they are posed or in the moment. Most of our wedding photos were in the moment shots and they turned out so beautifully. It helped to have the magnificent Pacific as a background. For our reception, photos of the surroundings were great fillers when it came time for scrap booking and putting a photo album together. Bocce balls, court, vines, glasses in the air for a toast, old signs, bottle of wine leaning against a flower box, etc. There are endless shots available for a mind with endless ideas.

    Weather creative or traditional photos are taken, it is definitely a good idea to have some idea of the photos you want. Make sure to have extra rolls for those spontaneous photos you don't want to miss. Take this list and run with it!

    Speaking of photos, where are you going to put them all to keep the memory alive? I've been married for 10 years and have had our Wedding album sitting in our living room having been thumbed through a hundred times over. Not only are the photos in excellent condition, so is the album itself. I got our album at BlueSkyPapers, among so many other classy books, and couldn't have been more pleased with all aspects of their business. You will definitely go back for more. As much time that goes into planning and taking all of your wedding photos, that is how much time goes into making these handmade and custom albums. Check them out!

    Have fun, be creative, and make memories!

  • Sharon January 2, 2010 01:50 am

    My MOST favorite picture from my entire wedding is the BIG GROUP shot... where every guest is standing in a crowd, looking at the photographer and waving. I would absolutely recommend it to every bride

  • Michael Graham October 25, 2009 04:17 am

    my favorite shot of any wedding is the look on the grooms face when the bride is walking towards him...make sure to take a moment off the bride to take that shot. Pricelss

  • Rose October 3, 2009 04:45 am

    I think the list is great!

    This is not intended to be an all-intensive list, just a starting point to what shots you may not want to forget..

    For those of you arguing about price- price is an overrated measure of a photographer's ability. My wedding photographer was $1000, which I had a hard time justifying to myself at first! Note that I found her through a friend (we saw her hustling around taking pictures at our friends' wedding, & were happy with the quality as well). It turns out our price is her independent price- she also works for a studio in the area where they charge $2-3k! For the same photographer! And we had no limitation on the photos- it was actually one of our requirements to find a photographer who would give us all of the photos on CD/DVD afterwards. We were very happy with the results (minus a few shots I would have liked to see- I may not have communicated it very well, though).

    I actually did want photos of us at each table with the guests. We told our photographer, who said "Why don't I just follow you around and take candid shots?" which we agreed to... the trouble was that we wanted pictures of us with everybody, and we ended up with only pictures of half of our guests!

  • Y2bthere September 25, 2009 06:34 am

    A photo of their shoes during the 1st dance: My friend was thrilled and even got teary eyed over it. She had spent a lot of money on her shoes and they were beautiful. And if you think about it, it is a nice surprise shot…just their lower legs and feet flowing together in rhythm.

  • Nicole September 13, 2009 08:22 pm

    oh I forgot Secondly ...
    I am always asked by friends and family how to select a photographer ... check out the WPA - it is a great resource. Always make and appointment to meet the photographer in person, make sure you look at a comprehensive portfolio not just a collection of random wedding photographs, read all materials in depth - especially the contract. Ask them what they think their strengths are and what they look for when photographing weddings and make sure your wants can be met. Be specific with your photographer - OCD/Bridezillas are my favorite since I know always exactly what they do and don't want. I always encourage a second meeting with the parents if possible since they often are paying me I want to find out what is most important to them.
    Wedding contract/releases - always have them reviewed by your lawyer and make sure that both the bride and groom sign. I also include anything that we specifically discussed - any extras or changes so everyone is on the same page. I also like to include as a suggestion in my materials and again in my contract a statement about guest photographers, whereas I know people like to snap away at weddings it does interfere with what I was hired to do. It isn't a matter of greed or my wanting to sell prints ... I have found that guests/family have become insane with the rise of digital cameras and can severely hinder my ability to do the work you have hired me and paid me to do. It isn't just blocked shots or swarms of people behind me yelling out instructions to the bride & groom and not allowing me space to move ... it is also ruined shots from multiple flashes going off during a long exposure or non-flash photo, other flashes interfering with my camera/strobe flash metering, etc. Also when I am photographing with swarms of guests snapping away behind me like the paparazzi I do not have everyone's attention - no one looking at my camera at the same time, etc. Also nothing looks worse {and thank you Mother for doing this at MY wedding} then a great photo of the bride and groom having and intimate exchange at the altar realizing the solemness of the moment and you have that one guest standing up camera in hand taking a photo! I always try to encourage my clients to include a no photography message on their invitations for the ceremony - besides you are there to watch and enjoy I am there to photograph.

    Also - I am also asked by "Uncle Joe types" and "Advanced Amateurs" how to navigate your way into wedding photography. This is very simple. You need to have a solid foundation ... having a SLR and taking decent photographs are not sufficient. Almost every major college/university has a continuing education department - find a school in your area that has a good arts education reputation and enroll in a photography certificate program. They are usually the concentrated "major" courses that you would have to take if you were enrolled in an Associates degree program or as a BFA minor. If there is no formal certificate program take at least a photography 101, history of photography, composition course, a lighting course, a portrait course, etc. Also immerse yourself in art & photography - go to exhibits and look through the top wedding photographers portfolios ... take notes and really analyze each photograph. Read a lot ... I have found that blogs are better then the books at B&N. Assemble your basic equipment - you will need a professional level DSLR {film is fine, but it is very labor intensive} in addition to your stock standard lens that most likely came with the camera you should also have something along the lines of the Canon 50mm f1.8 with runs about $250 which you will need for low light conditions - you will need a flash like the Canon 580 - a comfortable and easy to use camera bag - multiple compact flash memory cards - additional battery for your camera and flash - lightweight tripod - your camera manual {just in case something goes awry} Register with the WPPI and read through their website and materials extensively - also a great resource for insurance. DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH A WEDDING WITHOUT INSURANCE and now more and more venues will not allow you to photograph on their premises without it ... do not worry it isn't expensive. Find your local camera shop and see if they have a rental program - great way to fake it until you make it equipment wise. Invest in a website and proper business materials - schools with an IT program and Graphic Design program are a great resource for this ... contact professors and post an add for junior/senior students to design your materials and develop your website for a fraction of the price. Talk to other photographers in the field - www.meetup.com is a great resource for that. Once you have done all of this prep then you are ready to start photographing weddings. How do I build a portfolio? offer friends and family who are engaged to do free/low cost engagement portrait sessions ... offer to do bridal portraits before the wedding {very popular in the south} ... do trash-the-dress portraits for friends and family after their weddings ... be creative! One of the best ways is also to assist an already established wedding photographer ... don't be shy they might not be advertising for one but call the ones in your area and let them know you are available at a moments notice as a back up ... you would be surprise at how much experience that will give you!
    But NEVER EVER just start photographing a wedding because you have a camera you are handy with and take "good" photos ... would you have just been satisfied with "good" on your wedding day?! Besides are your friends and family and colleagues going to give you an honest assessment of your skills ... probably not! Before going through the expense and process just try exhibiting your photos at a local juried photo exhibit and see how you do ... that is a good judge if you are on the right track to becoming semi/pro!
    Oh and make sure you really like working 12+hrs straight almost always on weekends ... it's not for everyone!

  • Nicole September 13, 2009 07:29 pm

    Hi Everyone! This is definitely a good starting point and though I definitely agree it is a rather stock standard borderline cliche list you have to start somewhere. As a recent Bride and a professional wedding photographer I have several comments about what has been said. First, I don't understand why brides pay $1000 for photographs that will outlast their great grandchildren but will spend $5000 on a catering bill for food that no one ever really enjoys. There are a few select things from a wedding that stand the test of time - the bridal gown, the wedding bands and the photography ... invest in those and cheap out on the rest. Personally I had a destination wedding in Venice and my photographer www.kathilittwin.com fees started at $5000 and worth every cent. My gown ... custom couture from the Designer Loft in Manhattan. Rich, god no ... just smart. My entire wedding cost roughly $20k which is about the national average.
    As as an aside, those $1000 photographers are never just $1000 ... most have set time limits, image limits, everything is a la carte, inferior/insufficient equipment, no actual fine arts education, limited experience and are usually amateur at best trying to make extra money to fund their hobby. some have mentioned "modern" "21 century" photographers ... what are you?! Do you have a Kodak brownie box on a brass tripod?! Photojournalistic is an aesthetic and a method, photographers who capture what is really happening as inconspicuously as possible ... it isn't just a batch of haphazard candids as so many pawn off on their clients. It is photographing the day, the progression, the events as they unfold to you as a witness not a creator, your interpretation as an artist of the union of two people and the celebration that ensues. You are a storyteller and that is why you pay a photographer a proper amount. Personally I typically my charge $4250 ... I photograph the entirety of the day from the morning coffee to your grand exit, there is no limit on the number of images, I do not charge an additional fee based on the number or guests or for my assistant photographer, I am never late, I am always professional, I follow the ceremony and reception venues rules explicitly, I use professional quality equipment only, that price includes printed proofs or a private online gallery, I am insured and I arrived dressed appropriately based on the suggested attire {white tie, black tie, etc}, I studied photography at Pratt Institute and my assistant Rochester Institute of Technology, I have exhibited my personal work extensively, I photograph destination and traditional weddings and almost 75% of my non-wedding work are photographing newlyweds who are desperately seeking a great photo because they "cheaped-out" on their wedding photographer initially.
    Now here are the must have shots from the list that I agree with 100%:
    #2 - is personally my favorite shot {also include her accessories, jewelry, shoes - I love detail shots}
    #9 - although in my experience it is the Groom's Mother {I personally think there is never enough attention paid to the groom - especially photography wise. I always make sure to photograph his detail shots especially since his watch or cuff links are usually a gift from someone special.
    #18 - I love photographs of empty churches all decorated and ready for the Bride and I usually try to capture the first kiss from a higher vantage point for a panoramic shot while I have my assistant photograph the tighter cropped shot.
    #19 - I completely disagree ... most of my brides love my photographs from behind them as they walk down the isle, but you have to hustle to get back to the front for when the Father and Groom exchange handshake/hug
    #28 - this is a bit tedious and I think rather unnecessary. I always ask the bride and groom or catering manager for the VIP table numbers and make sure to get those the rest I look for candids or interactions with the bride or groom only. I do offer a "photo booth" that bride/grooms having larger weddings absolutely LOVE: I set up a DSLR on a tripod on automatic and leave a wireless remote - guests can snap away like a photo booth and I get some FANTASTIC portraits and candids so much better then putting crappy disposable cameras on the tables {so glad that horrid phase is winding down}
    #30 - it is imperative at some point either after the ceremony or at some point at the reception to find a way to get the Bride & Groom alone ... they always appreciate the down time & you can get some fantastic portraits/candids {just be quick! they have a party to get back to - no more then 15 mins}
    #43 - details, details, details!!! I love macro photographs of flowers - the bouquet, boutonniere, centerpiece, etc {bring one of those tiny travel evian misters in your bag - make the flowers looks fantastic and if it is a hot day a good pick me up for you}

    Here is some more unsolicited advice - always try to get candids of the parents and grandparents during the ceremony and reception ... the B/G want to see them enjoying themselves and will treasure those especially later in life.

    Always try to capture that one moment where they bride finally lets go of the "I'm a bride persona" and does something funny or goofy or endearing ... those real moments the groom wants to see.

    Never photograph the Groom's mother crying at the ceremony especially if it is the ugly cry - the Bride will always take it the wrong way and you don't want to be responsible for WWIII but if the Groom's father is crying too or looks otherwise emotional then it is okay.

    ALWAYS check with the ceremony and reception venue and ask to have a copy of their photographer's requirements - if there is something they restrict that is important discuss it with the venue first and see if that rule is firm and if it is then give the B/G a heads up so they understand how it will impact their photography. Since some churches do not allow ANY photography during the ceremony and many do not allow flash or the photographer on the altar. When I am faced with the no photography dilemma I make an appointment to speak with the officiant and discuss my "method" and usually I am able to persuade them to allow me to photograph from a balcony or last pew without flash - it isn't ideal, but I always manage to get some fantastic shots. But under no circumstance break the rules - it is unprofessional. Also if you are unfamiliar with a location or religion do some research.

  • Lydia August 10, 2009 02:49 am

    Steve B is right about Uncle Joe. Whether your doing it for free or not, the bride and groom shouldn't just hire anyone to do their wedding, even if they are paying him nothing.

    A lesson for Joe is this: A photographer needs to know their equipment like the back of their hand. In my experience AND opinion, the best way to start into wedding photography is to shadow a professional photographer at their weddings. In other words, be a second shooter. Have your professional tutor you, listen to them, learn your equipment, and always always ALWAYS have extra batteries, memory cards, backups, and an extra camera on standby. If you can't find someone nice enough to do that for you, ( alot of photographers are pretty conceited) then you should research wedding photography to death before ruining someone's wedding. But I would never recommend jumping into it unless you know what your doing to an extent.

  • Steve B August 7, 2009 02:33 am

    Student wedding photographers, take note: Even if you are doing a friend's wedding for free (there are no friends in business without a written contract/agreement) make sure you have a release of any liability if the wedding party is unhappy with the images. And also that your equipment doesn't fail or the flash cards become corrupted. Verbal agreements don't cut it with a judge. This is a worse case scenario, but it's best to be prepared if something does happen. That is why pro photographers buy insurance. And if aunt Jane trips over your tripod at the wedding or reception gets injured and sues, you will be liable. Judges are tough with photographers that can't present a wedding contract and are uninsured. Contact WPPI and talk to their insurance department about setting up a basic photographer's liability policy to cover your equipment and to prevent any possible lawsuits.

    Read this
    RE: Hire A Student Photographer For Your Wedding
    By db (Guest Post)
    NOT something I would do unless you really don't care about your photos AND can hire them for a few cents on the dollar. In small claims court, we see more lawsuits about wedding photographers than you can imagine. They aren't responsible for you being fat, having bad makeup/hairstyle or cheap/ugly clothing and decorations but these lawsuits abound.

    A student is not a professional. Would you hire a student chef or a student dress designer??? With a higher than 50% divorce rate; people honestly may have no use for their wedding photos so it wouldn't matter in that case.

    But if you want to record memories and need to be cheap about it, try giving out digital cameras for use or finding 2 or 3 friends who can take a bunch of your shots. See if friends can loan you cameras, etc. That way, all you would have to do would be buy the memory cards and can then pick and choose from hundreds of photos. Photo editing software is better than ever and you can do wonders on your own if you make the effort.

    Once someone is paying to have a job done; they forget that they should only expect to get what they have paid for. The extreme anger and disappointment isn't worth saving a few dollars on what we hope is a once in a lifetime event.

  • Cynthia Sobkowich August 6, 2009 03:27 am

    Very nice list and especially the bride swimming in her dress! It's a great reminder for the rush of the day to keep in your bag as a check list.



  • Elizabeth August 4, 2009 02:17 pm

    Steve - I'd have to disagree (to an extent). Wedding photographers have to start somewhere and for me, photographing my friends wedding in Oct. is the perfect start. She completely understands that I'm not a pro, but I've been taking shots here and there at friends weddings with some success (as an amateur). I've been doing lots of research (ie. why I'm here) and feel prepared to give her a set of memories that she'll be satisfied with knowing that I'm not a pro. I think that the difference between me and Uncle Joe is the desire to do a great job. This a great starter list for me without being bound to it, but I fully anticipate finding many shots that are exclusive to their day. I do agree with you in the fact that if you get someone for free make sure you understand their level of actual skill outside of their camera.

    Everyone has said enough to "frustrated", but I'd take $975 to photograph a wedding. :)

    All in all, I don't aspire to be a wedding photographer, but I want to be good enough to help friends out and not have them feel like they've "skimped". I have my sights set on getting good at other areas, but want to be skilled all around.

  • Rob Greer July 15, 2009 02:22 am

    A list like this one is great if you're a beginning photographer and you don't know what you're supposed to photograph at a wedding. That being said, if you're using a list like this one, you can be assured that you're probably not "seeing" (or photographing) all of the the important moments happening around you.

  • Carol July 14, 2009 04:36 am

    In regards to #28... When I was married 26 years ago, this type of photo was taken at my wedding. They were not taken by my professional photographer, but by my neighbor, an amateur. All these years later, the professional photos, although great shots, lay in a box in my attic. The shots taken by my neighbor are the ones in the album we still pull out to look at. Many of the people in those shots are family and friends who have passed away. These pictures show them laughing and enjoying themselves, the way they would like to be remembered. Like others have stated, no one will get mad if you have extra pictures they don't want to buy, but they might just be suprised at how wonderful some of those pictures may be.

  • Steve B June 25, 2009 09:59 am

    This is an interesting topic, wedding photography. I knew a couple who spent a small fortune on flowers, catering, banquet room rental, DJ/band, cake, etc. And what do they do about hiring an experienced, pro wedding photographer? They didn't hire one. In order to save money, they asked "Uncle Joe" who was a hobby photographer if he would photograph their wedding because they liked his snapshots from his travels. "Uncle Joe" figured that it would be a good way to offer his photo shoot free as a wedding present to the bride and groom. And man, he just spent $699 on that DSLR on sale with a lens, whoa! Did Uncle Joe have a clue about flash photography? Sure he did, the flash was built into his new DSLR. Just put the camera on automatic, and "automatically" these mystical, magical wedding images just fill up the CF cards. Did Uncle know that he couldn't use a flash during certain parts of the event in the chapel. No, he had a good f3.5-5.6 lens that came with the camera that should work fine without the flash. Did Uncle know how to meter for a correct exposure and accurate white balance, because the bride's snow white wedding dress cannot appear with a red or blue color cast.? Of course he did, he set WB on auto. Uh-oh. Did Uncle know that ISO didn't mean "camera IS ON? Of course he did, somehow the camera's ISO was set on 400 during the whole shoot. Did Uncle pay much attention to the 2" LCD screen after each shot, no time!!

    Needless to say, we know the outcome of the wedding. A total 100% disaster. Images were blurred out, overexposed, color casts, bad composition, the list goes forever of the issues. After the happy couple visited Uncle to see the results of the shoot, well, they never spoke to Uncle Joe ever again. But whose fault was it, Uncle Joe's or the happy couple?

    I have seen and heard about the results of a wedding party not hiring a pro shooter who knows what their doing in photographing a wedding and delivering a first class job.

    My advice to any couples considering asking a friend or relative who bought the latest DSLR, but isn't skilled in wedding photography to be responsible for shooting their wedding, be careful. Don't scrimp or try to get a free photography job. Hire a pro so you don't regret the outcome. Just my $$

  • Robin Ng May 16, 2009 12:30 pm

    Thanks for the tip!

  • Lorenzo Reffo May 12, 2009 06:09 pm

    Ooops that was my private URL, below is the public one:

    Sorry :(

  • Lorenzo Reffo May 12, 2009 06:07 pm

    Thank you very much for your tips! I shooted a wedding ceremony last Saturday and I found them really useful, even if I was not the official photographer and even if I haven't used them all!

    Here are some sample shots from that special day:

    Comments are in Italian language, they're not very meaningful anyway :)

  • ajcoots April 27, 2009 10:19 pm

    I am a professional photographer and in my experience it's actually a bit more helpful to get the couple to prioritize and whittle down the list. We usually ask for the bride and grooms top TEN shots. This encourages them to decide what is really important to them individually. I'm not knocking the list of 50...all wedding photographers have these types of shots in the back of their minds at an event. But, from my experience, it's better to keep the 'hit-list' to a minimum number of shots with the maximum of importance--- so that you can get it out of the way quickly and be in the moment and prepared to shoot what is happening emotionally--rather than trying to capture a scavenger's hunt worth of must-have (read: 'cliched' photos) that may not actually be relevant to the couple.

  • Joanne April 26, 2009 09:51 am

    This is photography NOT an English assignment...don't be so critical

  • brall April 12, 2009 12:09 pm


    I don't do weddings; but, the last couple that I am familiar with...4x6's were $10 and it went up from there.
    Austin TX and Jackson MS locations.

  • Cheryl April 12, 2009 03:34 am

    I am about to shoot my second wedding for a friend. I have only shot one wedding, and that was years ago, for my brother. I knew he would forgive me if something didn't turn out (and there were problems with some of my reception pictures. Luckily, the bride's brother was shooting, as well. That was an outdoor wedding, all in black and white, and my wedding shots in the park turned out great. It's my 11x14 black and white that got framed and hung up!!! That was on 35mm with an old Pentax and a multitude of lenses and filters. Now I have a Canon digital and I'm extremely nervous about this. I have tried to talk my friend into hiring a professional photographer, but they cannot afford it. This list, and some of the suggestions that followed, was a great idea and (although I might not be able to get every shot), I will be sure to use this as my guide. I've added a few other traditional and non-tradition shots to my list, as well, but it was because of this thread that I got thinking again. Thanks, Darren!!!! (By the way, the rude comments on here are really uncalled for. Grow up, folks.)

  • Carlos Loeza April 12, 2009 03:13 am

    Thanks for the article!
    I agree with Lisa Yates because I'm in the same exact position.
    I have a wedding coming up in May and I'll be charging $150 for the day and about $10 for each 8x10 print... $15/11x14 and 5x7's @ $5. ALL USD.
    Anyone think this is too cheap?

  • Marcus Neto April 3, 2009 11:04 pm

    Funny. I really enjoyed the article. Got to the bottom only to see that it is you (Darren) and that I follow you on about 3 different mediums. LOL looks like I just added a 4th. Great job on this one. Will definitely use it in a couple of weeks when I shoot my next wedding.

  • Robin Ng April 3, 2009 07:15 pm

    good tips thanks for sharing!

  • Clyde March 31, 2009 04:23 pm

    Great entry, Darren, albeit far from complete. I'm glad it's open ended so we can add our own favorites. After 300 weddings, I closed that chapter the day after my own daughter got married. I had a list of at least 100 'must haves' that I carried in my pocket and was always open to suggestions. I shot five rolls of 36 exposure film and made every shot count. Now that I have gone digital and it would be a piece of cake, I wouldn't touch it. There are a lot of wanna-bees out there that think wedding photography can be fun and easy. More power to them. It takes a special person even with all the knowlege and the best gear. Be considerate and focused. Anticipate every move and do research on customs. Be ready for the unexpected candids. The photo album is the only thing left after the cake and gifts are gone, but don't let your efforts get in the way of everybody having a good time. Ps > Tell the bride to not throw the bouquet until you count to three. And shoot anybody wearing a flower.

  • Zoran March 30, 2009 09:09 am

    Don't make your guests standing up while they eating. It is much quicker and better to sit with them :)
    My photographer for our wedding had approx. 600 shots, and there were not even 1 (one) shot of rings, main table where we were sitting, inc. her parents, sisters, my parents, brother, best man.... [rolling eyes smile] :)

  • anonymous March 29, 2009 12:54 pm

    Nobody ever buys table shots!

  • BRall March 29, 2009 09:49 am

    Most Episcopal churches do not allow photographs during the Sacrament of Marriage.

  • Pat March 29, 2009 08:08 am

    That is a great list of traditional wedding shots but there are several "must haves" missing.

    I didn't see the group shots, which can be quite extensive and are probably the biggest "must have" shots apart from the Bride & Groom regardless of the style of wedding photography.

    Also several of the traditions may not happen very often now, for example I have not seen a bride throw her garter or bouquet at any of the weddings I've photographed yet :-)

    However this will be a great guide that can be added to over time as experience grows with undertaking weddings.

    PatB Wedding Photography Suffolk

  • Rickard March 29, 2009 02:34 am

    I think you left out the important "Bride & Groom in front of a naked man" as depicted here: http://jonaspeterson.com/?p=802

  • Lisa Yates March 29, 2009 12:37 am

    I am just starting out, and my biggest fear is messing up on the "big day". I don't qualify myself as a professional, and only charge a minimal fee. It is great experience for me, but I tell the couple over and over that they are NOT to expect professional pictures from an amateur. The list above is a godsend to me as a reference. I don't know if they are all "must haves" but certainly for anyone starting out they are an excellent start. We all want the creativity and beauty to shine through our photos, and perhaps this list will lead off to other creative shots. Just take the pictures..you never know until you review afterwards what kind of collection you might end up with!

  • Mike March 28, 2009 09:01 pm

    It's a "garter belt" not a "guarder belt"

  • Jean March 28, 2009 01:01 pm

    This past August my brother was married. It was the second wedding for both he and his bride. They didn't want to spend (didn't have the money) for an expensive "professional" photographer. So the dreaded "well you could take some pictures, couldn't you" conversation was had. I told them point blank that I don't consider myself a professional photographer and hoped they would reconsider. They didn't and I didn't want to disappoint them. I took photos all day long, some from the list, others just spontaneous. After my daughters and I scrapbooked the whole day and presented it to them, they cried, and my brother said they were so much better than all that posed stuff! They were delighted and had memories that a handful of throw away camera wouldn't have given them.
    My point to all of this, particularly to the pros who don't get it, is that not everyone wants or can afford what you think are "must have shots". Everyone is diffferent. I don't want you telling me that because I am not a "professional" I have no right to be doing weddings!

  • red March 28, 2009 12:03 pm

    some of my favorite shots from our wedding, which we did put into our album, were the photo journalistic/candid shots.

    - pictures of the bride & groom while speeches are being given
    - pictures of open dancing
    - pictures of the bride & groom walking around to tables & talking with guests....but not posed & smiling for the camera, just enjoying their night & guests.

  • Kayla Swanson March 28, 2009 11:39 am

    RE: Andy Bright...

    In the end you would end up paying just as much for the photos anyways and they would be crappy quality. Wedding Photographers are well worth the money and quality of their photos. You only get married once.

  • Andy Bright March 28, 2009 07:21 am

    my god wedding photography is lame.

    my tip is give every guest a disposable camera and have a bin they can check them into at the end.

  • ninquelote March 28, 2009 02:34 am

    I only charge about $1000 for a wedding shoot. I live in an area where if you charged $3000 for a wedding you would never work. To me having ten jobs at $1000 is better than none at $3000. I also have connections in some larger areas like Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, and if someone there offered me a job, it would still be $1000, because many people realize, like some of the other readers above, price does not equal quality it just equals a price.

  • tonya March 28, 2009 01:42 am

    re: frustrated

    Your attitude tells me exactly what photography means to you. A big fat paycheck. It also says you're arrogant, rude, insecure and that you lack any form of social politeness. Not everyone can afford $3,000+ for photos (which also often brings out $3,000+ worth of "Bridezilla"). Many of us do what we do because we love it, not to make as much money as we can. We also don't think it's fair to gouge those living in our smaller, lower-income city. The $3,000 price in itself means nothing, but your obvious view that money=quality is ridiculous. Expand your horizons, or at the very least go back to school and study astronomy. You'll learn the universe doesn't actually revolve around you.

  • Yadira March 28, 2009 01:26 am

    Hi, I would add in case of catholic brides: the parents giving her their blessing before leaving home.

  • rksquared March 28, 2009 12:44 am

    As a recent bride I have to say that this is a VERY cliche list of shots, and there are many shots on the list that I am very glad my photographer didn't bother with. (#10 for instance). This may be good for reference, but I would highly recommend spending time with each bride and groom and getting a good understanding of what they are hoping for/expecting...and then add a little creativity to the "standard" shots that are taken so they don't look like every other picture out there.

  • Chandra March 27, 2009 11:21 pm

    I've only shot a handful of weddings so far but aren't most of these pretty standard shots? I sit down with my brides and go over the posed group/family shots they want and ask if they have any other specific shot requests. Those are the only photos I physically list out and bring with me so I don't miss Grandma or Aunt Betty. Then I ask for a copy of the wedding day itinerary from the bride (or the planner if they're using one) so I know when all the "events" will take place. Then inbetween the events you are free to roam with your camera for all the candids and more artistic shots you can find.

  • Dan Gallegos March 27, 2009 10:48 pm

    Nothing wrong with the $975 photographer, not everyone wants modern 21st Century photos, where I live people tend to lean trod traditional. Plus not everyone here can afford that $3000 dollar photographer. Since everyone else chimed in on #28 it also nice to shoot the couples at each table and not just the whole table, this prevents one thing I don't like in photos (half eaten food).

    Oh and I have shot my fair share of weddings and I have yet to see a garter belt tossed. I think it would be fun to see the bride slide it off her waist and unsnap it from her hose but most just toss a garter :).

  • Eric Mesa March 27, 2009 10:32 pm

    A couple things.

    1) re: 28 it depends on your wedding. My wife and I had two weddings. The first one was with my Family in Florida. There were not any table shots. The second one was with my wife's family in NY and she's asian and it was mandatory to have shots with the both of us at each table. Also, I photographed a country (redneck would be mean) wedding and they also asked me to take pictures of them at each table)

    2) re: frustrated - I read a lot of wedding photographer-written books before doing any wedding photography myself. 9/10 of them said that people may ask for photojournalism and creative shots, but NONE of them ever get mad at the traditional shots and those are the ones they buy the most. (As well as friends and family buying it)

    3) re: wedding night - since I'm a photographer I KNEW I wanted photos carrying the bride in. So I asked my best man (my brother) to drive me to the hotel (I didn't take the limo to the hotel) and take pictures as I took her in. The bride's maid (sister-in-law) held the door open. It's one of my favorite pictures from that night.

  • Nick March 27, 2009 09:11 pm

    re: frustrated.

    Its the epitome of rudeness to leave a comment like that as a guest on someone else's blog.
    If you think you can do better, then write your own list on your own blog. Or try and be constructive and add some ideas here that younger (and obviously less experienced) photographers can benefit from.
    In the long run would be a much better portrayal of the website and brand that you unceremoniously tried to plug.
    For those of us that are about to embark on their first wedding shoot, have a look at the site mentioned (http://www.modernphotographers.com/find-your-photographer/) as there are some great photo ideas that you can harvest for your own use.

  • ninquelote March 27, 2009 07:03 pm

    This is a pretty good list. I haven't photographed a whole lot of weddings, but from the experiences that I've had, I can tell you there are two reasons why wedding photographers are so pushy and why they are treating it like their own personal photo shoot and not your wedding.

    Reason number one is that they could just be a jerk which is more about them as a person not really photographers in general.

    Reason number two is the more likely case; he/she has a lot of experience. (Hopefully only) weeks after the wedding, when the photographer sits down with the couple and goes over the photos, he/she doesn't want to hear the phrase, "You didn't get a picture of [fill in the blank]?" too many times. It doesn't take too many weddings to know what people want to see, and more importantly, what prints people want to purchase. It may seem pushy at the time, but when it comes to remembering your special day, you're going to wish the photographer insisted on taking a picture of that special moment when you first saw your bride in her dress.

    As for #28, if you aren't taking pictures of the guests at their tables regardless, you aren't really doing your job.

  • Victor Augusteo March 27, 2009 02:52 pm

    wow, thanks for the list there. i will be doing my first wedding as the main photographer in june and this really helped me alot :)

  • Sandee Wright March 27, 2009 01:08 pm

    Very nice basic list. Of course, there are always more, and it's the quick ones you catch *between* these that usually are the treasures. Totally agree with #28, the table shots, which my husband fondly refers to as "cruise ship pictures". These come out portrait style and people love them. Some are quite formal, others make faces or vamp for the camera. Loads of fun. Just say, "For the bride!" and everybody loves it. Ladies table? Take two shots: "For the bride!" and "Now for the groom!" and see what you get. Makes it FUN. Laughter rules.

  • DarkMoon March 27, 2009 11:46 am

    On our wedding night, my wife and I stayed at the local Hilton. When we arrived at the door to our room we noticed a small gathering going on across the hall as the door was open. Anxiously, my bride stepped throught the door without allowind me to carry her across the threshold to the dismay of our neighbors. The Boo's rang out loud and clear. I knew exactly what they wanted. I brought my wife back out to the hallway so that we could make a proper entrance, As I lifted my bride into my arms, over the cheers I heard, "Wait, I've got a camera!" Needless to say that we're probably one of the VERY FEW that has a shot of the groom carrying the bride over the threshold. You might check with the happy and find out if their spending their first night together locally. The moment will only happen once in their lives.

  • Sarah March 27, 2009 11:26 am

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together, it's appreciated! I have a very large list of shots already, but I missed a few of these so thanks!

  • frustrated March 27, 2009 10:50 am

    These are the types of shots that a $975 per wedding photographer will get you. If you'd like to see some real 21st century wedding images head over to the Modern Photographers website and click on any of the photographers listed.

  • Robert March 27, 2009 10:40 am

    re: #28
    A polite and quick "hey everyone look here and give me a smile for the bride and groom!" and everyone is happy. The guests understand that the bride and groom want to see who is there and are completely cooperative about it 99% of the time.
    Is this my favorite shot to go around and take at the reception? Heaven's no! It's a chore. But I'll regret it big time if I don't do it.

  • Lauren March 27, 2009 09:22 am

    I'm going to have to disagree with "az" on #28. I recently did this at a wedding and the bride and groom loved it. The key is that you get people in the moment...talking, laughing, eating. I agree that no one wants to be interrupted, but no one said you had to ask them to pay attention to you either. It makes for a nice moment to get everyone intermingling with each other at the table.

  • Leigh Youdale March 27, 2009 09:18 am

    I was at the beach with my family this summer while a wedding was taking place in the Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse right on the beach. (Austinmer for anyone in Sydney).
    As people spilled out of the clubhouse onto the beach the groom carried the bride into the surf, hotly pursued by the photographer and very shortly after by all the bridesmaids and groomsmen who also went in the water. We did notice the mother of the bride resisting attempts to get her in there as well!

  • Norm Levin March 27, 2009 09:10 am

    Agree with the prevailing sentiment here that a wedding is an event that's photographed. Not choreographed. I try for a balance of "must haves" and "will want to haves" shots. Too many wedding photographers with far more experience than I, tend to impose their stylistic will on their client's event.

    This may sound odd, but covering sports has taught me a great deal about celebrations in general. Learn to anticipate the action. The most memorable images are those micro-moments of interaction between people, whether they're in the bridal party or not. Look for the honest emotion, and you won't disappoint.

  • D. Travis North March 27, 2009 08:29 am

    Wow...I'd love to find a bride so laid back that she would go swimming in the ocean in her wedding dress. That's really fun...I'd love to see what the other photographer's shot looked like.

  • arcusx March 27, 2009 08:25 am

    From my experience (the film days), #28 was not a "must have," but only "upon request." By that point in the day we'd probably already overshot, and would need to charge more money for the extra film & processing. My least favorite pictures of the whole event!

    A "must have" in my portfolio is the Groom's mother pinning the boutonniere on her son. Probably only omitted because nobody can spell boutonniere (took me about 5 minutes to find it online). ;-)

  • Nick March 27, 2009 04:23 am

    I've been tasked with taking photos at a friends wedding. More than that, he's a designer so probably has a much stronger principles of composition that I do, so this list is pretty damn helpful. Any further tips on preparation and on the day would be greatly appreciated, as I'm becoming terminally nervous about it.
    The photographers 'Performance Anxiety'.

  • melfotografix March 27, 2009 04:18 am

    No.28 - Guests actually pose for you (seated) if you tell them the bride requested pictures of the guests at the tables.

  • Codswallop March 27, 2009 02:59 am

    "Alter?" "Isle?" Doesn't anybody proofread these things?

  • Charles B. March 27, 2009 02:31 am

    When I got married (before I took up photography as a hobby), the photographer "allowed" my wife and i some time before the ceremony. His intent was to get a picture of the first time I saw my wife in her dress. I was somewhat uncomfortable with both the cheesey nature of it, as well as what I saw to be an invasion of a private moment. I basically had to throw a fit to get him to give us *our* time, without intrusion.

    Another moment: a friend, but not a member of the wedding party arrived, driving two hours on his birthday to be with us. I wanted to say "hi," but the photographer got very upset because I was ruining *his* schedule.

    That was something I saw with our wedding, as well as my sister's a few months later. The photographer treated this event as their photo shoot, not our wedding, and bullied everyone around. I understand that some direction is needed, and he/she has a job to do, but I think a better balance could be made. In the first instance, he didn't get one particular shot. Forcing it, I suspect, would get less-then-desired results at best.

    Why not be cognizant of the fact that this is a celebration for the families with friends that the photographer is being paid to work at, and not a photo shoot that the photographer is paying everyone to be models at?

  • Ashley March 27, 2009 01:36 am

    AZ... #28 says nothing about the guests standing up. I think it just means a picture of the guests AT the table. It just means a full table of guests which could happen anytime through the night. While eating, or when the couple is having thier first dance or removing the garter or cutting the cake. ;)

  • Vivalova March 27, 2009 01:07 am

    I will have to agree with #28 but only if it's applicable to the bride & groom. In my area, many of the newly weds would like to have all their guest tables being shot. A few of the reasons from the bride & groom are;

    1. Who attended and who didn't (believe me, they can rougly guessed cause RSVPs aren't accurate nowadays)
    2. Whether their guests are enjoying their food or not?
    3. Whether each table is fully occupied or not?
    4. If you're lucky enough, you might even get a good candid shot from it and that would definitely make your bride & groom happy to see. I've done that before several times and it really worked.

  • Vivalova March 27, 2009 01:00 am

    Here are probably a few that may be added...

    1. Mirror shot of bride & groom from make-up mirrors or dressing table
    2. Bride's father covering bride's veil (there's a much better sentence for this)
    3. Ring bearer walking the isle with ring
    4. Flower girls walking the isle tossing petals
    5. Bride & Groom exchanging rings
    6. Bride & Groom's parents emotions during solemnization
    7. Bride & Groom signing marriage registration (words are probably mixed up)
    8. Bride & Groom with relatives, friends, colleagues

    This are the few that I could think off. Even some that you have listed in your 50s isn't applicable in my area. Hope my list will be useful.

  • AZ March 27, 2009 12:49 am

    I'm going to have to disagree with #28. You're only going to get all the guests to stand up when they are seated eating. No one wants to be interrupted when they are eating, much less have to stand up. And if they do, you're getting annoyed faces with the smiling faces. I do not recommend this shot at all.

  • Dawn Del Guercio March 27, 2009 12:45 am

    I'd like to see an article on "journalistic wedding photography"... Getting those shots that are NOT posed... I've heard of it and seen some photos like this and they are always favorites to those looking....