As a photographer, it’s sometimes nice just to let things come your way and inspire yourself at the moment. Unfortunately, you have a job and results to deliver if you’re in a professional setting. In those cases, it’s best to work organized. With a shotlist, for example.
When you get hired and paid to do a photography job, it’s normal to deliver your client what they have asked for. It can help to organize yourself, as a business would do. For event photographers, a shotlist can be essential.
What is a shotlist?
A shotlist summarizes all the shots you need or want to take for a specific event. It allows you to focus on the shoot, check off the photos you have already made, and help you focus on what to shoot next.
On the list, you usually write down the type of shots: details of merch, candids of attendees, …
You can be as detailed as you like to be. Writing down specific shot ideas, with lenses and aperture settings, … all previsualized; Of course, you don’t have to be this specific. A mental list of what you need to photograph is already plenty for some events.
Why is a shotlist useful for events?
Why is a shotlist useful? Why give yourself more work in advance?
Well, a shotlist can help you determine what gear to bring. If you anticipate some specific shots or circumstances, it can help you prepare for them. Do some research and get the correct type of gear for it.
It also helps you to know what the client wants. If you wish, you can show them the list in advance. If they approve, there’s less room for them to discuss anything they miss afterward. A shotlist is a start; you can make extra photos when you see there are opportunities for them.
During the shoot, it helps you to focus and prioritize what’s important.
When to use a shotlist for events
Of course, I will say ‘always’ on this question. Though often enough, a mental shotlist is plenty and just knowing what you want to photograph ahead of time is enough.
Though, especially if you start, it is good to practice to try and make one for every event you shoot.
Who creates the shotlist for an event?
There are multiple ways to go about this. You can expect input from your clients, and they often have ideas of what they want photos of, so they contact a professional.
Of course, it’s good to add your ideas too. The client might not be aware precisely of all the possibilities.
Have a conversation with them and find out what they are looking for.
How to make a shotlist
Making a shotlist doesn’t have to be complicated; you can make it as fancy or dry as you like. Usually, just a word document with bullet points is plenty.
You can print it out or have it digitally on your phone. Just keep it close so you can reference it once in a while.
- Why am I hired to shoot there?
- Where and why will the photos be used?
- Internal use (newsletter, …)
- Public use (social media, newsletter, blog, …)
- Who is asking me to take the photos?
- What type of event is it?
- Family event
- Product launch
- What’s the planning of the event?
- Is there a timeline available?
- Is there a secret timeline available?
- All details of the shoot
- Is there parking?
- What venue is it?
- Is it okay to use flash?
Make sure to return to this page soon, as I am working on creating a downloadable pdf for you to use as a shotlist.