Prior to a shoot I always make a shot list. I think I am a little unusual in doing this.
Why bother with a shot list?
Well, firstly its a useful safety check. Making sure you are covering all the right areas. Not missing anything. Not spending too long on the wrong areas.
It helps with pacing. Making sure you are working at the right speed and not going to run out of time.
It’s good for planning. Some shots will be better at different times of the day. Some areas may be unavailable at certain times.
Finally It’s a good way to end the day. To go through the list and make sure everything is ticked off.
Whats on the shot list?
Here is an example of a quick list…
So a good shot list is a list of specific shots, not a brief or a list of aspirations.
The number of shots should be realistic, I group them into 5s as this is roughly what I aim to shoot in an hour.
The type of shot should be planned as well. I normally categorise between 3 types of shot. Wide shots (an overview of the space), mid shots (focusing on key elements), detail (focusing on isolated details, textures etc). I sometimes specify the angle Square or 3/4, etc.
The list can be prioritised. I put a “?” by shots that would be nice if there is time, but are not essential. I put a “*” by the most important shots.
The list should be in the planned chronological order, so in the above example the the start time was 9, and the shoot ran until 12, with a bit left over for extras. This means we can warn people roughly where we will be at a certain time and plan for light etc. The list can double as a time table.
When to write the shoot list
Often I write the list on my phone with the client as we walk through, or if the client is not there, I email it to them.
I think that works well when there is only one client making the decisions, however my clients have clients or their own or there are multiple clients or people sharing the photos. In that case, it makes sense to prepare a shot list ahead of time and circulate it, so everyone gets the shots they expect.
My experience is that a little planning can go a long way in getting more and better shots and (most importantly) giving the clients the images they want.