How to create a shot list with your photographer


A shot list is an amazing tool for planning your photo shoots. Essentially, it's a list of potential photos that you or your photographer would like to create for your business. It is also a good way to organise your thoughts on what are the most important elements of your business and what you'd like to showcase for your audience and clients.

Too often, this task is left exclusively to the photographer and the business owner or marketing manager only feeds back at a later stage or during the photoshoot itself. Avoid this scenario! Grab the bull by the horns and collaborate with your photographer to infuse the right mix of your business knowledge and their expertise on aesthetics to get your money's worth. Both parties are equally necessary in order to produce successful images.

So before, we get into the nitty gritty, let me save you from asking your photographer this question,

"We need photos, how much is it!?"

At this day in age, that question is almost inexcusable. First, decide what the hell you want to photograph, make a quick shot list, and ask this question instead,

"We need 25-30 professional photos to use for our online marketing content and PR. I've attached a list of what we would like to include. Will you please send me a quote?"

Your photographer's enthusiasm and motivation will quadruple in about the time it takes to read that message. Just try it.

Here are some tips for creating a successful shot list that will yield the content you really need for your business.

1. Start with the broad strokes

be deductive in your planning


Make a list of the main subjects or themes you'd like to cover in the photoshoot. You can get into the details later but be certain to cover the main areas first. For example, if you're a restaurant, the first step in making a shot list might look something like this:

1. Shots of the restaurant space
2. Plated shots of the food (8 dishes)
3. Portraits of the chef in action

Of course each of these categories need to be broken down in further detail, but starting with broad themes is a great way to cover all the bases.

2. Establish what accessories you will need

a supply list is part of an accurate shot list

If you are shooting on-location or in-studio this point is equally important to both scenarios and will also help you to keep track of your budget. If you need specific wardrobe touches for your lifestyle models, a vase of flowers for the table in your vacation property, or extra lighting to get professional shots, all these things need to be listed and priced out. What's the point in investing in a photo shoot only to realise what you needed to take it from mediocre to fabulous was $50 worth of props. Do the planning ahead of time. It's worth it.

3. Decide how much variation you want for each shot?

there are a hundred ways to take 1 photo


Many times my clients generously provide me with a shot list but I need to beg them to sit down with me and go over style options for HOW they prefer the shots to be taken. Do they favour flat-lay composition, side-angles, large depths-of-field, minimalist composition? A good photographer should be able to adapt and replicate the style that the client is after - many are often hired for their unique style. That being said, clients often want variety for each shot on the list so be sure to establish what kind of variety you are looking for before the photo-session. That way you can avoid scrolling through hundreds of images during the photo-session and focus more on logistics and style.

4. Include as much detail as possible

Its better to have too many photos than not enough

Once you break down the categories of your shot list, be as meticulous as possible so you don't miss anything. A good photographer will help you with this process and you'll be 100% more likely to get images you can be proud of. For example, if you're a hotel seeking to get lifestyle shots, 1 item might look something like this:

1. Guests enjoying the swimming pool.
- swimming in the pool from above
- sharing a romantic moment poolside
- kid jumping into the pool with water splashing
- woman with sun hat dipping her toe in the pool
- floating on an inflatable sun bed reading a magazine

There are 5 variations on this same shot and if you really want the option to use all of them or choose the best one then think of the scenarios beforehand.

5. Include examples of editing style + composition

seeing is believing, give some examples of what you like

You'd best leave some negative space if you want to put titles or text over images. It's also a good idea to have some visual examples of the editing style or filters you'd like the images to best resemble. This shouldn't be guess work for the photographer and a simple Pinterest board with the lighting conditions (natural or studio), and composition you feel best fit your brand is a great way to establish these elements at a glance. This doesn't need to be an intimidating exercise as a business owner. Use the internet to find images you like and you feel match your brand and make sure you're photographer understands them. That's all.

In general creating shot lists for your photoshoot is a money-saving and time-saving exercise that will help you better communicate with your audience and attract the right customers. A little planning goes a long way. Also, you're photographer will love you for it.

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