The List : Dealing with wedding day photo requests


It happened my first year of shooting weddings on my own. 2007. A couple weeks before the wedding, I received an email from a bride and she attached a photo list. And not just any photo list, it was a five-page, single-spaced, font 11, document itemizing every photograph I should take. As I reviewed it, my heart sank. I was in deep.

The list included requests like:
    Photo of the wedding dress in front of a window.
     Father walking daughter down the aisle.
     The first kiss.
     The happy couple walking down the aisle.

I felt like she was holding my hand and walking me through the wedding. And she was…because she didn’t trust me.

At the end of five pages, I felt so overwhelmed and sad…and I hadn’t even photographed the wedding. By the time the big day came around, I was so nervous and clung to that list like it was it a meal ticket during the Depression. At random moments throughout the day, I’d stop and review the list to ensure I hadn’t missed anything. But therein lies the irony: I missed real moments because I was so consumed looking at that list. I was petrified that I’d miss the “dad looking lovingly on daughter from afar” photo request that I missed many of those actual memories.

When I reviewed the wedding images, I checked off everything on the list, but I stared at a gallery of safe, uncreative, and lackluster photos. Sure, I met her requests, but I lost myself in the process.

Which leads me to now. And that great lesson I learned five years ago. How do I deal with The List today? I try to get in front of it. I don’t mind lists, I just tell my clients to create lists around things I may be unaware of. In fact, my contract states that I’m to receive all photo requests two weeks before the wedding for my review…but I also tell brides that the list does not need to include photos I’ll get naturally during the day (like, the first kiss). The list, I say, should be comprised of things I need to be aware of.
Here are a few examples:
    Parents are divorced (which leads me to ask who can stand with whom and reconfiguration of family photos)
     Napkins were made of bride’s grandmother’s lace dress.
     There’s a total of six chandeliers, all different from each other.
     The groom’s sister is in a wheelchair.
2007 was the last time I ever received a list I wasn’t proud of. Yes, proud. I’m proud of my brides, proud of their trust in my ability to document their wedding, and proud they chose me as their wedding photographer. Duh. 😉

I hope this helps and Happy Monday!