Things to look for:
Personality and approach – You are going to spend many hours with your wedding photographer on the happiest day of your life, so choose someone who you are comfortable being around, and who matches your vision of when they should be invisible and when they should take charge.
Professional – It would be devastating to hear your photographer has lost all your photos or is avoiding all communication because the IRS is after them for tax evasion. Choose a professional who has insurance, who is a part of professional associations, who pays their taxes, who has backup equipment and backup plans.
View full galleries – I think it goes without saying that you should love your photographer’s work. Photographers are naturally going to put their best work in the most visible places, there’s nothing wrong with that, but be sure to look deeper. Ask to see full wedding galleries and see what results they produce over the course of a full day, in difficult lighting, or with less than ideal settings.
Don’t get hung up on:
Number of photos – Some photographers consider the number of photos they deliver a selling point. It’s important for you to know what to expect, but believe me, you’d rather have 200 photos you love than 2000 mediocre photos. For the record, 500-700 is pretty normal for me.
Second shooter – I am disappointed by the trend I see for photographers to include a second photographer as a selling point, when in reality that person is a friend or spouse with no training, or a very new student photographer. What does that really add to the coverage? What does that take away from the coverage as the primary photographer is trying to instruct and direct the inexperienced photographer? I shoot the majority of my weddings alone, and I consistently receive feedback from people amazed that I captured everything. There are a few specific situations where a second photographer becomes necessary (like wanting prep of both bride and groom, in different locations, to be thoroughly documented) so I do offer a second shooter, but it won’t be a cheap addition since I choose to only work alongside someone who will not detract from my coverage and whose work I am proud to present next to my own.
Products – If you find yourself deciding between a photographer whose work you love but you can only afford their basic package, or a photographer who is okay but you can afford their package with tons of stuff, go with the photographer you love! You can always save up after the wedding and order a beautiful album, but you can’t go back and get better photos.
Price – Whether it’s five figures, six figures, or even seven figures, every wedding is on a budget. I would encourage you to consider the long term value of where you appropriate that budget. In 10 years will you look back and talk about how great the stretch limo was? I doubt it. The photos hanging on your wall and in your album will be daily reminders of all the memories of the day. Yes, I know my bias as a photographer is showing through strongly on this point, but it’s something that I believe deeply.
If you read all that and still want more, here are some additional articles for your consideration:
YouTube: David Tutera, a top national wedding planner, talking about choosing a photographer
Huffington Post: Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Photographer
“3 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Wedding Photographer”
“Photography: Down to the Money”