How to Create a Shot List


Whenever I hear of people hiring a photographer, I get excited. But when I hear of people blindly going into a shoot without a shot list, I get panicked. And no one wants that. 

Shot lists are critical planning steps for any photography process. You’re spending a lot of money of your photos, so you need to make sure that you’re capturing every element of your personal brand while you’ve got the time with a photographer. 

I like to think of a shot list as a way to capture your essence for the photographer. The photographer’s job is to make you look like you. It’s your job to give them the “stage” so you can shine. Unless you have a history with the photographer, they likely don’t know much about you, so a shot list is a great way to get them up to speed on every action and location that speaks to you. 

When you’re going into your shoot, keep these things in mind: 


Brainstorm at least two different locations that are close to each other. (Ask your photographer to scout if you can’t scope it out yourself.) Variety in location gives your audience a more well-rounded view of your personal brand while giving you more to work with for your social media and site. If I’m torn on locations, sometimes I’ll take the same type of shot over a few different backgrounds. (If you check out my Instagram you can see that standing against walls in kind of my “thing.) This way, you have more choices when it's time to pick the pics that best represent your brand.

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This is one of the most critical tips that I have, so listen up! Think of your shots in terms of actions, not poses. This allows you to think more creatively about the moods you want captured. It also ensures that you’re comfortable during the photos since you’re doing actions that come naturally to you. 
Here are a few examples of actions you can try:


Choose actions that reflect who you are how you might work with a client. If you’re naturally restrained, then a jumping shot might not be for you. If you’re high energy, capture a photo laughing. One of my favorite client shoots was with a cultural architect who specialized in shaping cultures of famous organizations. For his shoot, we had him go to a train station and simply observe the people around him. Not everyone can get away with people watching, but Javier absolutely could. 


As a shortcut for brainstorming shots, think about what you do on a given day. Focus on living your brand and capture it. Do you wake up, make a smoothie and meditate? Maybe you love to be outside, go outside for a hike, and write in a notebook? Whatever is true to you, set up your shots accordingly and share with your photographer. A picture says a thousand words, so make sure that your pictures are saying the right ones.

When you're planning shots for your brand, what's most important to you?