Several years ago when I had just gotten in to photographing weddings, (and learning many lessons early on) one of our Brides gifted us as what I now dub “the List”. I was shooting alongside my sister Sarah at the time, and it was the first time a Bride had ever formally provided an organized description of family photos, posed every which way imaginable. She playfully joked in her sweet tang “ya’ll get excited about photography, I get excited about spreadsheets” and when she handed it over, I felt like she had just passed to me a Nordstrom shopping spree. It was the gift of organization. Immediately I was embarrassed that our Bride was handing this list to us and not the other way around, I was thankful that she had provided such a thorough gem. This girl is good. Sure, every photographer may show up with their own mental list of what needs to be photographed at every wedding: the dress, the shoes, the details, the families, and the kiss, but each celebration is different and while I am conscious to view each event with it’s own gleaming personality, family photos must be as well.
Erin’s photo list of people who “needed to have their picture made” (this is how some people say it in the south ya’ll--makes me giggle, like I am behind a giant camera under a black sheet) listing, when, where, and with exactly who they are to haven their photo taken with was so helpful on her wedding day that with a few tweaks, it’s been my own template ever since. Years and many weddings later I am handing Erin's spreadsheet over to couples for review instead of the other way around--on a wedding day my job is never my couple's responsibility. They are there to sip champagne and get married, I am there to make sure I document it all.
There are couples who say “oh, we just want one or two photos with our families” or photographers who plan to wing it on the wedding day but I’m not taking that chance. As a former Bride I know just how hectic it can get on a wedding day and if the list is left to a Photographer’s memory...or worse, an emotion filled Bride, there’s a good chance someone is going to get left out of the shot. I personally learned this the hard way and don’t have images of some of Marshall’s immediate family members from our wedding day, and I’m bummed because I was the one who was calling people into the photos--hold the girl in the giant white dress responsible! Now, in addition to catching candids of family members socializing with the Bride and Groom, a tender hug from a mother, or a stern handshake from a grandfather, I have my second shooter call out family photos, starting from the largest group shot and working our way through to the Bridal party, ending with the bride and groom portraits, sending happy guests to cocktail hour as we go as quickly and efficiently as possible.
With a this no-fail list I send to couples weeks before the wedding day, they can easily fill-in-the-blanks and make sure no one leaves the party without having their picture made. Thank you, Erin, for establishing one of my most important business practices! Your excel-ness is invaluable! :)