Why there is no such thing as ‘must have’ photos for your wedding

Apr 28, 2023

You’re in the full throes of wedding planning. Right now you’re sitting on the sofa, surrounded by DIY decorations, with a hundred wedding-related tabs open on your phone and you see this blog title, or something similar pop up. In your wedding-planning-induced haze and a little bit of FOMO, you find yourself clicking to read more. Trust me, you do not need to burden yourself with this. Do not read more. There is no such thing as ‘must have’ photos for your wedding. Go make a brew and read this instead. 

Hi, my name is Anna and I’m a storytelling wedding photographer. I wrote an instagram post on this theme this week and really wanted to expand on it here in my blog. The crux of it is – there is no hard and fast list of ‘must have’ photos for your wedding. There! I said it. There isn’t. Your wedding is not a Pinterest board, it is not a magazine article. Your day is going to look the way you want it to and be the chilled, laid-back, amazing day you have planned. You do not want your wedding to become a day of chasing a list of photos that you don’t really want or need. 

The idea of shot lists and ‘the shots’ comes from the days of film photography. Back in the 70s and 80s, photographers weren’t hired as they are now. They would find out when weddings were happening and arrive after the service to get some photographs, which would then be sold to the couple. With perhaps half an hour to an hour tops, and few rolls of film, they would run through a standard shot list to make sure they got the most saleable images, and would then tootle off to the next wedding. 

You live in this amazing modern era, where film has been replaced with unlimited pixels and photographs have become so much more than 10 group photos and a photo with the posh car. Please embrace this artistic freedom which you are blessed with. Now, photographers work hard to produce a stunning record of your day from start to finish. We are there, camera poised in anticipation, to capture the laughs, the tears, the joy and the bloopers. The last 10 years have also seen great changes in weddings, with the traditions, timelines and formality of weddings being replaced with laid-back, DIY and unique plans which make each day different. Your wedding is as different from the last as you want it to be, and therefore you can make sure your photographs are unique too. 

The latest ‘must have’ photos and trends often come from ideas seen in wedding blogs. It’s been about 10 years now since smoke bombs were first seen in wedding photos, and they are still being used. Now don’t get me wrong, they look great and I do enjoy doing them – but they are time-consuming and, if you think about it, make no sense unless smoke bombs or grenades are actually part of your day (paintballing reception anyone?). Usually they are just for the photo. What if you replaced that time with a unique activity that your guests could actually join in with and would still give you fun and colourful photographs? I’d personally love to see a mass kite flying happen at a wedding, or a paper aeroplane contest. Or make the smoke bombs actually part of the day – perhaps they can be used as you walk between venues to lead the way. Approaching your day like this will not only make your day both fun and unique, but will also mean your photographs represent what actually happened on your day and be fiercely unique to you. 

If you’re planning a more laid-back day, you still don’t need to worry about any must-have photos. I see my role as a documentary-style wedding photographer to be to capture the day as it unfolds in a beautiful and interesting way. This means that it doesn’t matter if there is a brass band, flags and Morris dancers (someone please do this!) or a chilled-out drinks reception with card games and an acoustic singer. Just let me capture it as it happens. We can whisk off for some creative portraits, but let me use the eye and creativity you’ve paid for to produce these, not a Pinterest board of images other artists have created to copy. Some group photos are of course absolutely fine, but let’s just keep them quick and simple so you can get back to your people. 

Your must-have photographs of your wedding are simply the photos that will help you remember and relive the day. Beautiful photographs of the real moments, lovingly created and carefully curated to give you the perfect bank of memories for the rest of your life. They are the things that are the most important to you – not important to a magazine list. Trust yourself, trust your photographer. 

Hey There!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!

My name is Anna and I’m a photographer based in North West England specialising in fun and chilled weddings. Please check out the rest of my blog for more wedding inspiration and planning tips or follow me on instagram.

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