“Pinterest is the death of weddings,” Audrey has told me more than once on the way to shoot a wedding. And in some sense, there is some truth to it. We live in an age overflowing with images. An astonishing 1.8 billion images are created and shared each day. The proliferation of images, along with the popularity of Pinterest and the use of clickbait to drive Internet traffic, has resulted in the creation of countless “must have” lists. I’m not talking about the family portrait list, bridal party photos, and that sort of thing. I’m talking about photo lists like this one.
Why You Should Not Give Your Photographer a List of “Must Have” Shots
First, if the list is just a list of the obvious moments to capture in every wedding, it is completely unnecessary. There are tons of lists online of the “must have” shots that include the dress, the shoes, getting ready, details, first look, kiss, first dance, bouquet toss, dancing, exit. If your friend with a camera (not a professional) is taking your wedding photos, then by all means, give them a list. But if you’re dealing with a professional wedding photographer, providing them a list of the photos they take automatically at every single wedding tells them that you have no faith in their abilities and can be insulting. It’s like reminding your caterer that your guests will be hungry, or telling your florist to choose flowers that are pretty over flowers that are dead. Capturing the dress, the shoes, you getting ready, the first look, etc. are all no brainers; don’t insult your photographers’ intelligence by giving them a list of those photos.
Second, professional wedding photographers, especially those, like us, who focus on a photojournalistic or candid approach, are trained to be observers. We charge high dollar because we are skilled at observing what is happening and capturing those candid moments and genuine expressions that are the most meaningful to our clients.
If you hired a professional photographer because you like their candid photos, you are kicking yourself in the foot if you give them a list of 20 shots they must get during your wedding. Your photographer needs to be focused on capturing the beautiful moments that happen organically at your wedding, with their viewfinder to their eye and their mind alert to what is happening around them. If instead of looking around for the genuine moments they are looking at a piece of paper with the Buzzfeed list of “20 Must Have Wedding Photos” you printed out, they are going to miss the actual, real life, candid moments of your wedding!
Third, your attempt to replicate those “must have” photos will not look as good as the originals. Think about it, the “must have photos” you favorited on Pinterest and made it on that Buzzfeed list were probably some of the best photos taken that day. Everything aligned to make that photo great. The lighting was great, everything was perfect. That is precisely why the photo made it through the filter of viral content on the Internet to land on the “must have” list. Trying to recreate a photo that went viral and became a “must have” photo is like listening to the Karaoke version of your favorite song. It’s entirely not the same as the real thing. Your attempt to reproduce that “must have” photo will not be the same, and you’ll probably be disappointed. And in the meantime, while your photographer is busy trying to recreate some other photographer’s work, he or she will be missing actual moments from your wedding.
Life is not scripted. Weddings should not be either. Maybe you won’t tear up during the father-daughter dance. Maybe your grandmother will not get crazy on the dance floor. Maybe, in all the stress and delays that happen on the wedding day, there will be no time to say a prayer with your mom. And that’s okay. That’s life. But for every scripted moment on Buzzfeed’s list that doesn’t happen, there are a hundred other beautiful moments that will happen. Unshackle your photographer so they can capture the real moments of your wedding and fill your wedding album with surprises and honest-to-goodness candid moments that you didn’t even realize were happening.