How to Make the Perfect Shot List for your Next Project

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published June 7, 2022

photo of plane flying over delivery truck

As a creative director, photographer, or art buyer, you know that creating the perfect shot list is essential to a successful project. But sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. In this post, we’ll provide some tips for putting together a killer shot list. So sit back, relax, and get ready to take your next project to the next level!

What is a Shot List?

A shot list is a document that details every shot that you plan to capture during a project. It includes information such as the shot type, the subject matter, the location, camera angle, and any other relevant details.

Why is a Shot List Important?

A shot list is important because it helps you to stay organized and on track during a project. It also allows you to communicate your vision to your team, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Make the perfect shot list for your next project
Large scale photo shoots need planning to stay on track

What Goes into Making a Shot List?

A lot goes into making a great shot list. Here are some key elements to keep in mind:

Location and time of day

Listing the location of each shot will help you determine what kind of equipment and crew you’ll need. Make sure to also note the time of day, as this can affect lighting conditions.

Characters and props

In addition to listing the locations, you’ll also need to list the people and props that will be used. This will help you make sure that everything is ready and in place before you start shooting.

Camera angles and framing

Decide on the best camera angles for each shot and list them out. You’ll also want to think about any camera framing that you wish to achieve.

Context & Messaging

What’s actually going to happen in each photo? Make sure to list out the action so that everyone is on the same page.

Making a shot list can seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end. By taking the time to plan, you’ll be able to avoid any potential problems and make sure that your project goes smoothly.

Programs to Create a Shot List Template

Once you know what goes into making a shot list, it’s time to start putting one together. There are a few different programs that you can use to create a shot list template:

1. Microsoft Excel: Excel is a great program for creating shot lists. You can use the program to create a table with all of the relevant information.

2. Google Sheets: If you don’t have Excel, you can use Google Sheets to create a shot list template. The program is similar to Excel and can be used to create a table with all of the relevant information for each image.

3. Final Draft: Final Draft is a screenwriting program that can be used to create a shot list template. You can use the program to create a table with all of the relevant information for your shoot.

Once you’ve created your shot list template, you can start filling in the information. Be sure to include all of the relevant details so that everyone knows what’s going on.

Where to Find Shot list Templates

If you don’t want to create your own shot list template, you can always find one online. There are a few different places where you can find a photography shot list template or shot list examples:

Common Shot List Abbreviations

When creating a shot list, you’ll likely come across some abbreviations. Here are some of the most common abbreviations:

1. ELS: Establishing shot. An establishing shot is a wide-angle that shows the location of the scene.

2. MS: Medium shot. A medium shot shows the characters from the waist up.

3. CU: Close-up shot. A close-up shot shows the characters from the neck up.

4. ECU: Extreme close-up shot. An extreme close-up shot shows the characters’ faces in detail.

5. OTS: Over-the-shoulder shot. An over-the-shoulder shot shows one character from behind another character’s shoulder.

6. POV: Point of view shot. A point of view shot shows the scene from a character’s perspective.

7. LS: Long shot. A long shot shows the characters from head to toe.

8. VLS: Very long shot. A very long shot shows the characters from a distance.

9. 2 shot: A two-shot shows two people.

10. 3 shot: A three-shot shows three people.

When creating your shot list, you can use these abbreviations to save time. However, be sure to explain the abbreviations to anyone who isn’t familiar with them.

How do You Plan a Shotlist

Creating a shot list is a great way to plan and make sure you get all the photos you need. By being organized and efficient, you’ll be able to get great results without wasting time.

Start by Brainstorming all the Shots you’ll Need for your Project

Create a master list of all the photos you’ll need. This should be a comprehensive list of everything you can think of, no matter how small.

Organize your Ideas into a List that Makes Sense

When creating your shot list, it’s important to organize your ideas in a way that makes sense. Try to think about the story you’re telling and how each photo will fit together.

You may want to start by creating a list of all the photos you’ll need, then dividing them up into locations. Or, you might want to start by brainstorming all the subjects you need, then figuring out the range of photos for each one.

Make Sure to Include both Wide and Tight, as well as Medium Shots

When creating shot lists, be sure to include both wide shots and tight shots. A wide shot is great for establishing the scene, while a tight shot is perfect for capturing details. You may also want to include medium shots, which are in between wide and tight.

Shoot Horizontal and Vertical Frames

When shooting horizontally, you’ll capture more of the scene in each photo. This is perfect for landscapes and scenes with a lot of action.

Vertical photos are great for portraits and closeups, as they will emphasize the height or depth of the subject. They can also be used to create a sense of drama or tension.

Think about the Order of the Shots

The order of the shots is important, as it will determine the flow of the day. You may want to start with wide angles and then move in for a mid shot and then tighter, or vice versa.

I recommend setting up for each specific scenario and varying your photographs from there. You don’t generally want to do all your wide angles, then mids than tight because it will add a lot of time.

How to Plan your Shots for Maximum Efficiency

When creating your shot list, it’s important to think about efficiency. You’ll want to make sure you get the images you need in the least amount of time possible.

One way to do this is to plan ahead of time. This way, you’ll know exactly what you need for each setup and can set up the shot quickly.

Another way to be efficient is to shoot multiple shots at once. This will save you time and help you get the photos you need.

Finally, make sure to leave some flexibility in your shot list. Things will inevitably come up, and you may need to adjust your shot list on the fly. By leaving some room for improvisation, you’ll be able to adapt and get everything you need.

A Shot List should include a Shooting Schedule

In addition to the shot list, you should also create a shooting schedule. This will help you keep track of where you’re at in the photo shoot and make sure you’re on schedule.

The shooting schedule should include all the information from the shot list, as well as the order in which the photos will be taken. This way, you can keep track of what’s been completed and what still needs to be done.

Creating a shot list and shooting schedule will help you plan your shoot and make sure you get all the camera shots you need. By being organized and efficient, you’ll be able to get great results without wasting time.

The Benefits of Storyboarding your Shots

While a shot list is a great way to plan your shots, storyboarding can be even more helpful. Storyboarding is when you visually map out the shoot. This can be done with stick figures or by drawing actual scenes.

Storyboarding has a few benefits over simply creating a camera shot list. First, it allows you to see the story visually, which can help you plan more effectively.

Second, storyboarding can help you communicate your vision to others. If you’re working with a team, storyboarding can help everyone understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Finally, storyboarding can help you save time on set. By mapping out each shot ahead of time, you can make sure you have all the elements you need and can set up quickly.

How to Write Shot Descriptions

Once you have your shot list and shooting schedule, you’ll need to write the shot descriptions. Shot descriptions are a way of communicating what each shot should look like.

When writing the shot descriptions, be sure to include the following information:

– The type of shot or shot size(wide, medium, or tight & camera lens)

– The subject of the shot

– The action taking place in the shot

– The mood or feeling you want to convey

By including all of this information, you’ll be able to ensure to get exactly what you want.

Finalize your Shot List and Send it for Approval

Once you’ve created your shot list, it’s time to finalize it and send it for approval from all the parties involves. Make sure to include all the shots you need, as well as any additional information such as shot types, angle, and purpose.

Once you’ve got approval, it’s time to start shooting! By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a shot list that will help you get the perfect images for your next project.

Where to Find a Shot List Template

If you’re looking for a particular shot list template, there are a few places you can find one. One option is to search online. There are a number of shot list templates available for free.

Another option is to purchase a shot list template. These templates usually come with additional features and can be customized to your specific needs.

Finally, you can always create your own photography shot list template. If you’re not sure where to start, there are a number of resources available online that can help you.

No matter which option you choose, be sure to find a shot list template that fits your specific needs. By doing so, you’ll be able to create a list that will help you get the perfect photos for your next project.

List of Shot List Templates with a Free Download


Studio Binder

Sample Templates


A shot list is a key tool for any photographer, and by following these tips, you can create one that will help you get great results. Be sure to include all the images you need, as well as any additional information such as shot type, angle, and purpose.

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