Corporate event photography extensive shotlist (for beginners)

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?
    • Sponsors
    • Internal use (newsletter, …)
    • Public use (social media, newsletter, blog, …)
  • Who is asking me to take the photos?
  • What type of event is it?
    • Casual
    • Family event
    • Seminar
    • Congress
    • 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
    • Location
    • Timings
    • Contactperson
    • Is there parking?
    • What venue is it?
    • Is it okay to use flash?

Event shortlist example:

  • Arrival Shots:
    • Exterior shots of the venue/building
    • Banners and posters displaying event name and sponsors
    • Guests arriving (both candid and posed)
    • VIP arrivals (if applicable)
    • Attendees mingling and networking
  • Venue Details:
    • Wide-angle shots capturing the overall ambiance and décor
    • Close-ups of unique architectural features or decorations
    • Signage indicating different event areas (registration desk, lounge, conference rooms, etc.)
    • Any branded displays or promotional materials
  • Candid Moments:
    • Conversations between attendees
    • Laughter and interactions during networking sessions
    • Guests enjoying refreshments or food
    • Speakers preparing backstage
    • Emotive reactions during presentations or speeches
  • Speaker/Panel Shots:
    • Shots of speakers addressing the audience
    • Close-ups of facial expressions and hand gestures
    • Audience reactions (applause, engagement, note-taking)
    • Wide-angle shots capturing the speaker and the audience in context
  • Group Shots:
    • Group photos of attendees (full-room shots and smaller groupings)
    • Photos of teams or departments interacting
    • Candid shots of group discussions or brainstorming sessions
  • Branding and Sponsorship:
    • Close-ups of sponsor logos and branding elements
    • Shots of branded merchandise or giveaways
    • Attendees interacting with sponsor booths or displays
  • Entertainment:
    • Performers on stage (musicians, dancers, etc.)
    • Guests participating in interactive activities (games, photo booths, etc.)
    • Candid shots of guests enjoying entertainment
  • Networking:
    • Close-ups of business card exchanges
    • Handshakes and introductions
      • Attendees engaged in deep conversation
      • Candid shots of genuine connections being made
  • Key Moments:
    • Awards presentations
    • Product launches or demonstrations
    • Q&A sessions with speakers
    • Closing remarks and thank you messages
  • Departure Shots:
    • Guests bidding farewell and getting a goodiebag
    • The venue gradually emptying out
    • Event organizers and staff wrapping up
    • Any lingering moments of significance

What type of shots do you have on your shotlist?

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