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Shot List

Shot List: Commercial Work

I will often ask for client-defined shot lists when working on product or commercial photography projects.

Definition: What Is A Shot List?

A shot list is an organizational communication plan that describes photographic subject matter.

Every shot list should include when the photograph should be created (the order), who or what is in each photograph (the subject), where the photograph should be created (the location), and the visual perspectives or framing (the viewpoint). And, whenever possible, information about the purpose is always helpful (the goal).

These indicators and descriptions can be brief or detailed.

Shot List Importance

Shot lists serve as checklists that help save time, improve quality, and increase efficiencies through planned organization.

With proper planning, projects take less time. A shot list also helps define and inform your project budget. Carefully defined shot lists allow for more accurate estimates.

The shot list also ensures that every photograph you need is created. In other words, the shot list reduces missed photos and the need for reshoots.

Finally, shot lists support prioritization. You can define both must-have and nice-to-have photographs. Then, as the project evolves, real-time adjustments can be made to better meet your ideal project goals.

Photographic Details

Defining project details are the heart of every shot list. When you provide more information, we'll realize close alignment with my photography and your vision.


The subject could be an object, an action, an individual subject, or subject groups. The description might include positions, angles, viewpoint, props, wardrobe, equipment worn, accessories, props, and subject identification. Anything specifically important should also be defined.


Efficient ordering ensures that unnecessary movement doesn’t influence project budgets. Moving locations involves both setting up and breaking down. And those tasks take time. Inefficient planning can increase the time spent on those tasks.


Defining addresses, parking information, and walking directions helps ensure that your photography team doesn’t waste time seeking or identifying project locations.


You should define whether you need close details, wide angles, or varied viewpoints. Final usage aspect ratio information is also helpful (e.g. square, wide panoramic, tall panoramic) Defining key features or subjects is complementary to these perspectives and framings.


Defining photographic goals helps inform your photography. Describing the need, mood, branding, and end-use for each photo helps refine the project deliverables.


Although I'll never copy another photographer's work, please share photographic examples that set mutual expectations. Those examples also make estimation easier.

If you share similar product photos or lifestyle images illustrating your preferences, that information helps me deliver to your expectations.


When you're ready to get started on your own shot list, check out this basic shot list example (PDF). When you're ready to build your own shot list, you can download this shot list template (MS Word) and get started.