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The Shot List


The difference between a good photo shoot and a great photo shoot could be just in the preparation you do before the shoot.  People assume that pro photographers can get amazing images out of any situation.  As much as this is true, the preparation is what sets every true professional apart from the wannabes.

The shot list is usually something that you are going to get from your client, and it simply describes the necessary shots that you need to cover for your assignment.  They could be very brief, or really detailed, but they both serve the same purpose.  Having a shot list could limit your creativity, because you will have to focus on getting the photos required by you client.  On the other hand, having a shot list makes your job a bit easier in that you can simply follow the list and not worry about coming up with ideas (it’s all explained in the list).  Although you have a shot list, you probably got hired because of your vision.  Makes sure to follow the list, but don’t forget to add a little bit of your vision in every photo and to shoot the way you usually do.

Just like everything else, it takes practice to get good at something.  What better way to get good at following shot lists than actually making them for yourself and then trying them out.  By having a shot list, you will not only get better at working with them, but they will make sure you don’t miss anything important.  Next time you have a personal project, try to create a shot list for yourself.  Think abut angles, details, lighting and the stuff you need to focus on. 

As personal advice I would say to make sure to bring your shot list with you.  I’m just saying because I used to make them and occasionally leave them at home….  I didn’t care while doing the shoot because I always thought I had all the shots in my head.  After the shoot was over, I would take a look at the list, and I’d get to realize that I missed a lot of cool shots.

Just in case you haven’t seen a shot list, I will give you an example of a brief shot list from a client.  It will give you an idea what a shot list looks like, and help you start creating your own.

Below is a working shot list. Our priority would be on getting shots with riders as opposed to just features right now.

Overview Photos

Aerial view of trail from gondola - the more of the trail in one shot, the better

Aerial view of riders on the trail from gondola 

Above trail with view towards GoreRange

Photos w/ riders (far and close shots for each)

Rider in a turn

Rider on a roller, wheels in contact w/ trail

Rider on a roller, catching air

Sequence of riders - long shot down the trail w/ lead rider in focus

Sequence of riders - side shot

Rider on jump (see attached photo)

Rider around jump (see attached photo)

Rider on gravity dip (see attached photo)

Rider on uphill of roller

Rider on downhill of roller

Photos of trail features (w/o riders)


Gravity Dip

Hip Jump


The shot list is just a single step in the preparation process.  We have a few more great articles that could help you get better results on every shoot:

Download Equipment Check List

Download Basic Cheat Sheet

Download Advanced Cheat Sheet


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