Why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding photo checklist is a bad idea?

extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea

// Why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding photo checklist is a bad idea?

This article will discuss why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea.

Let’s start at the beginning. You hired your wedding photojournalist for an upcoming wedding. You’re excited. Your significant other is excited. You both liked your wedding photographer’s style, images, philosophy and personality. You hired your wedding photographer for their strength: anticipate and capture real, true, candid moments without alternating reality; without telling you what to do, where to stand and how to behave.

You also invited her/him to be big part of your wedding day, allowed them into to enter your intimate world of fears, flaws and weaknesses. You wanted to be who you are- yourself, and you trusted your wedding photojournalist to make you look good.

And then your maid of honor calls. “Great news!” she says and goes on to tell how she went to Wedding Wire or Pinterest and found this amazing list called “85 must have” wedding pictures! And suddenly you were like “Wow! What an amazing idea!”. Right? 
Well, not really.

Honestly, giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive list of wedding pictures is a bad idea. Here’s why.

why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea: bride makes up faces while playing with children during wedding photojournalism coverage

While images in those lists is usually a very basic task for a wedding professional, they often could quickly become major pain in the ass.

During my early wedding photographer’s career, I numerous times experienced an extensive “must have” list becoming more important task than documenting happenings unfolding around me. And that’s not good.

Too many times I witnessed amazing moments go by unphotographed while I was struggling with extra-long wedding dress in the rain for “13. Photograph Monirose hanging on the willow tree branch” picture; or expensive work diamond ring for “22. Photograph diamond wedding ring placed on the top of the flower bouquet” shot, or waited for uncle Bill to get back from the bathroom (while trying not to lose tipsy aunt Mary) at the table No.16 for “57. Photograph all wedding guests at tables No.3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 15 and 16” task in the list.

There are many more examples like those, that explain why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea.

bride and groom are embracing in the background during Sunday brunch wedding at Bishop’s Bay country club in Madison, Wisconsin

You don’t hire skilled auto mechanic to fix your gas stove, do you? 

And hey- I get it. There are things out there that wedding photographer must have in their “to do” list. Maybe the bracelet bride will be wearing is very much important to her because it was worn by her grandmother on her wedding day. Or maybe it’s a reception sign that niece and nephew spent 3 weeks in making. I always encourage couples to tell me details like these.

But you need to be careful. Because as soon as “must have” wedding pictures list starts expanding, so does the chances that you might not be getting skills and services you’ve paid for. And nobody wants that.

So talk to your wedding photojournalist in advance. Express your needs, fears and thoughts and see what they have to say about it all. Because wedding professional’s biggest priority is to let you experience your wedding at its best while delivering a product that they are most skilled at.

PLEASE NOTE that this article is talking about how  and extensive “must have” wedding pictures list applies to wedding photojournalism, not traditional wedding photography. Issues addressed in this article could be solved by hiring photographer that specializes in traditional wedding photography approach or by hiring 2nd photographer and delegating the task to her/him.

why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea: garter toss during wedding reception in Surg on the Water in Milwaukee

11 wedding planning tips you won’t find in regular bridal magazine

simple and useful wedding planning tips: couple is laughing hard while cutting the cake

11 useful and practical wedding planning tips you won’t find in regular bridal magazine

There’s a sh*t load of wedding planning tips out there on the vast spaces of internet. And if you have never done it before (and there’s pretty big chance that you haven’t) you could go down the rabbit hole forever. As a wedding professional I often found a lot articles pretty unreliable and lacking reality (see my thoughts on how to properly interview your wedding photographer).

Below I will be sharing my thoughts will briefly answer more realistic questions:

  • How do you put together one helluva wedding party for friends and family while keeping expenses minimal?
  • How do you navigate thought the this sea of something that is completely new to you?
  • How get the most bang for your buck?

Along with somewhat unusual wedding planning tips below I will be sharing some of the images and examples from few past weddings I photographed:

Laura’s and Ryan’s Gatherings On The Ridge barn wedding
Jackie’s and James’s Wisconsin family farm wedding
Laura’s and Adrian’s Wisconsin river wedding

I hope you did find those wedding planning tips useful.


1. Accept the brutal truth: there won’t be magic bullet in wedding planning.

You will need to do your homework in order to put it all together. There probably will be some sleepless nights. But the more you will get a grip of how things work in on a wedding day in advance, the less you’ll have to worry on you wedding day. And to have stress free wedding day so you can to you can enjoy it at its fullest is your ultimate goal.

Bride’s mother is tearing up while seeing bride in her dress for the first time


2. Jump start your inspiration.

Get on Pinterest and put some inspiration boards together. And don’t get stuck with just weddings. Heck, ditch weddings and expand into other categories. Think movies, clothing, road trips, magazines for creatives, photography, identity and website design, restaurants and food, etc. See as many examples and save them to board (or do screen shots) of what things you resonate with. Try to go through as much as you can! Afterwards let it sit for a week or so. Then sift off the noise, and keep anything that is still resonating with you. This will help to put something that is unique and that represents real you best.

screen shot of Pinterest inspiration boards with wedding decorations serves as an example of wedding planning tips


3. Cash is the king.

That’s a big and tough one, isn’t it? Pay for your wedding with the money you have. Don’t go into debt that will haunt you for the next 10 years. No money? Get creative. I say this phrase a lot, but it’s really not about how much you spend- it’s about how you feel.

bride’s and groom’s hands holding cash exemplifies one of more important wedding planning tips- don’t go into debt


4. Figure out your wedding day priorities and do them right.

For Laura and Ryan wedding day priorities that would consume most of the budget were wedding venue, catering and wedding photography. Couple was really drawn to down-to-earth, sustainable, and community-minded vendors. If they wouldn’t click with a vendor, they would keep searching.

bride is hugging and laughing with the grandfather- exemplifies another important wedding planning tip- enjoy your wedding at its best


5. Delegate some tasks and get help from friends and family members.

Share you wedding day ideas with people that are close to you and see if you can outsource some of them. Make sure you put to work their individual skills. Laura’s sister helped with wedding planning. Kyle, Laura’s brother, officiated their wedding ceremony. Bobby, Laura’s dad and retired DJ, put together wedding reception playlist from Spotify. Bridesmaids put together flower bouquets. You get the idea.

parents of the bride and decorating house entrance for the DIY Wisconsin river wedding


6. Make the big decisions on you own.

Don’t fall into trap where your wedding becomes someone else vision. Friends and family usually have their ideas on what your wedding should look like. You’ll need to figure out what’s important to you and understand why. Knowing the reasons WHY you want it certain way will help you to easily explain it all to your opinionated friends/ family. Listen to what they have to say, but stay honest to yourself. This will guarantee you’re your wedding day reflects who you are 100%. This will result personal and comfortable wedding day.

bride and groom during their first dance dancing to the Florence and the Machine song Dog days are over


7. Stick to your plan.

Big percentage of couples start planning their wedding at least a year in advance. It’s a lengthy period of time. Expect to encounter many distractions on along the way. You’ll meet new people, observe new trends, get new ideas, etc. Once you have a good, solid plan, stick to it. Besides giving you peace of mind sticking to the plan will also help you not to max out your budget.

DIY wedding reception cards, signage, handmade instructions and handmade mason jar decorations


8. Get a wedding planner/coordinator if you want peace of mind.

OK. Maybe you can find this one in bridal magazine, but still: having an experienced professional planner that has training, expertise and contacts in the wedding industry, and who will help to navigate you through your wedding day, is a HUGE help. And unfortunately even when you have a wedding planner, that still doesn’t mean there’s not homework to do.

bride and groom hugging with their eyes closed and smiling in the woods near Wisconsin river


9. It’s all about a marriage, not a wedding.

This one is one of more important wedding planning tips. Your wedding day is big deal. I get it. But your wedding day is not that important when you compare it to your marriage. That thing you both will experience together for many more years to come. So really it’s not the wedding day, but after the wedding is what really matters. Keep that in mind when planning.

grooms grandfather is impersonating the groom by wearing black fake mustache


10. Start early and build it all slowly.

Overwhelmed by the amount of information, options, styles, .etc? Getting a cold feet feeling on the whole wedding planning thing? Well, you’re not the only one out there. Quite a few wedding couples I talk to recall that scary moment when they stepped into unknown land of wedding planning and realized the endless possibilities for the decisions they will have to make. Start early and build it all slowly. Figure out your wedding style, look up the venue. Pick up most recent Wedding Planner and Guide. Don’t try to juggle food, wedding photographer and DJ all the the same time. Unless, of course, you’re good at it.

Wedding planning tips and examples showing wedding venue setup and decorations


11. Take it with a grain of salt.

Your wedding dress will get dirty. Sparkly sandals won’t be nearly as comfortable as initially anticipated. DJ will get drunk. Wedding pictures outside won’t happen because of rain. Best man will get into fight at the after party. Food will get served cold. Mother of the groom will turn into momzilla. Stressed out maid of honor will get wasted.
But that’s just how life is. And that’s what makes it so damn exciting.

wedding guest on the dancefloor surrounded by smok is drinking champagne directly from the bottlee


how to interview your wedding photographer: no BS advice by wedding industry insider

bride is approaching groom for the first look

how to interview your wedding photographer: no BS advice by wedding industry insider

True fact: there are few of you out there that know how to interview your wedding photographer properly. Sad but true.
This is how it usually goes: sheet of paper lands on the table, future husband or future wife looks at it and says the magic phrase: “We’ve printed a list of questions to ask your wedding photographer and would love if you could answer them”. And that’s where usually the problem lies.

Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t mind answering those questions, or any other questions for that matter. Questions usually excite me a lot! But if that question list they put together was picked up online at websites like Wedding Wire or The Knot, red glowing sign comes on in my mind and it reads: “Houston, we’ve got a problem!”.

Here’s why: people who put those articles and question lists together (often) have no idea or little how wedding photography works. Or at least that’s what I see when I read those tips. In fact, I often feel like things just get copy/pasted from one website to another sending same shitty message- ask lousy generic answers, get lousy generic answers and learn nothing about the person who you are going to big chunk of your exciting day. My math formula for it looks like this:


So when it comes to the list of questions on how to interview your wedding photographer, here are few tips:

  • ditch cookie cutter questions and get personal
  • be present in conversation
  • go deeper down the rabbit hole
  • keep an eye open for the red flags

Follow the simple instructions above and you’ll get better understanding how wedding photographer works. You’ll also feel more confident and  trust your wedding photographer (that’s a big one) more. And that trust is crucial. As it will allow you to enjoy your wedding day at its fullest. It will make your pictures more relaxed and candid, it will make your wedding photographer’s work easier and as result it will help to yield better pictures. Seriously, who doesn’t want better wedding pictures without too much extra effort?

Cookie cutter questions are not for you: your wedding day is unique and so should be your questions.


Below I put some examples of generic questions I found on online wedding planning networks, and added some replacement questions and reasoning behind them so you would get the most out of wedding photographer interview. Hope that helps!

How do you describe your photography style?

More personal question: Besides wedding pictures, what other pictures you like to take? What pictures you like to look at? What do you find interesting about them? What do you find interesting about wedding photography? What motivates you as a photographer/ wedding photographer? What do you like/ don’t like about weddings?

Reason: You will learn how your wedding photographer sees photography and life. You will also better understand what motivates her/him. And of course you will get better idea what’s her/his wedding philosophy and wedding photography style is.

woman sleeping on chairs in airport with funny sign above her

An image of a woman sleeping in airport is an example of street photography


Do you have a portfolio I can review?

More personal question: What was your favorite wedding you ever shot? Why? How did the last wedding you shot looked like? Did you ever photographed a wedding that somewhat had a similar feel like my future wedding? Can I see examples?

Reason: If someone doesn’t have a portfolio, she/he is not a professional wedding photographer. If you see 20 best pictures from someone’s 10 years wedding photography portfolio, you really not seeing the real picture of what you will be getting. Listen to your wedding photographer, tell them about your wedding plans and see ask for wedding gallery examples with the same/similar wedding venue, amount of people, time of the year, etc.


Have you ever shot at my wedding venue before?

More personal question: How do you approach photographing a wedding in the venue you’ve never been before? Do you research online? Do you look at Google Maps? Do you arrive earlier to check out wedding location in advance? Do you talk to venue staff about possible spots for shoot?

Reason: It honestly doesn’t matter if photographer shot at your wedding venue or if he went there to check in advance. If he’s a professional, going into unknown location and making things happen is his/her regularly conducted activity. Besides you rarely will find the same light conditions in the building- light in the same wedding venue could often look very differently depending on time of the day, season, weather conditions, etc.

best man is having a craft cocktail at the wedding venue during the golden hour beautiful sunsetBest man lit up by setting sun during golden hour at the wedding venue


How many hours of coverage do we get?

More personal question: Can we go through our wedding day timeline and see what do you think? What time do you recommend to start the coverage? When do you recommend doing family portraits? Why? Does the timeline we have look feasible?

Reason: Let photographer help you figure out amount of coverage he/she recommends. I’ve often run into couples that think they need 10 hours of coverage when in reality 7 is what they need. I get asked for 5 hour coverage, when reality is at least 8 hours of continuous coverage. Talk to professional, hear their opinion and decide what will work for you afterwards.


How many photographers will be on my wedding?

More personal question: Why do you think are pros and cons of having 2nd photographer? What do you recommend for my wedding day? Why?

Reason: Don’t get stuck with an idea that 2nd photographer will do miracles. Talk but be ready to listen. There are definitely scenarios where 2nd photographer is OK and certain situations where 2nd photographer is a MUST. Professional wedding photographer should have a good explanation of all pros and cons that apply for your wedding. There are weddings with 120 guests where 2nd photographer is a must and there are weddings with 300 wedding guests where one photographer is just enough.

Talk. Listen. Hear and be heard.

picture of wedding photographer and her assistant at the Masonic Center Madison WI wedding explaining on how to interview your wedding photographerwedding photographer Ilana Natasha and her assistant Mary on a wedding day

Do you bring your own lighting?

More personal question: Have you ever photographed in the dim church? Have you done a photo shoot outdoors when it’s dark? Can I see examples?

Reason: Bringing the lights to the dark venue or ceremony to show off isn’t going to do much if the wedding photographer doesn’t know how to use them or venue (e.g church) wouldn’t allow to use them. There’s plenty of photographer’s that go through the day without an artificial light. All they have is available light and they kill it!


What camera do you use?

More personal question: Have you ever photographed wedding in a rain? Snow? Dark church? What problems did you run into? What was your challenge? How did you solve it? Can I see an example gallery or two?

Reason: Remember- it’s not the $5,000 Santoku knife with ivory handle that makes a chef known nationwide. It’s the food the chef makes. Professional camera’s are relatively inexpensive these days and its way easier to own one than 15-20 years ago. But a lot of people forget that camera is just a tool. And the most important thing is how photographer puts that tool in use. That’s where the great skill is. And one sees and works with light. And how photographer communicates with the surroundings. And many other things. You get the idea.
If you really really want to know, I use pro level Fuji mirrorless cameras and lenses. But it really is not about the camera.

paper bag with Fuji photo equipment to exemplify how to interview your wedding photographer and to show that gear doesn’t matterContents of my “photo bag” AKA “too lazy to stuff my photo gear back to the photography case”

Thanks for stopping by and reading! I hope you find tips and recommendations about how to interview your wedding photographer useful. If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, feel to reach out to me via contact page. Check out my FAQ page with common questions Madison Wisconsin wedding photographers get asked a lot!