The Shot List

Super Photo Magic School

Have you ever worked with a shot list when out photographing? In all of my experience shooting interiors, lifestyle and food for magazines and different publications, the single most valuable tool on the job can be stuffed into my pocket. A shot list is a guideline, not an absolute. Find out more about using a shot list after the jump.

When on editorial or commercial assignment, usually an art director hands the photographer a shot list, to ensure everyone is on the same page and all the photos she has in mind are executed by the photographer. The list need not be overly long and complicated, it could include things like: wide, establishing shot of all major rooms, medium shot of home office desk, two details of personal items in bedroom, environmental portrait of home owner, etc.

I find it very helpful to create a list of ideas to bring with me on shoots, especially when I'm not working with an art director's needs. This list can be as basic as photograph the person doing something in the home, photograph the person outside in the garden, close up of their face, close up of their smile, and so on.

The point is you as a photographer have a plan and don't have to scramble for ideas while on the shoot. This process is especially important for beginners who may feel uncomfortable directing subjects to do different things for the camera. When you have a list in hand, you can just be checking things off, as if you own this shoot and you're following your notes. This is fake it till you make it school, people!

If you start working as a paid photographer, you'll have this part of the process down — working to an art director's specs and you'll have a way of planning out creative, alternate points of view while on the job.

Have you made yourself a shot list before? Or been handed one by someone else? How has it helped you?

xoxo, Leela the Photo Magician

And remember to check out last week's SUPER PHOTO MAGIC SCHOOL post: Finding Photography Inspiration.

(illustration: Leela Cyd Ross)