It's really easy, and necessary, to book a photographer based on their price. There are so many expenses to a wedding, and it is absolutely true that photos last a lifetime. Of course a photographer is going to tell you to prioritize your budget for photos, but I'm ACTUALLY telling you to ask yourself "what's the most important thing to me?" It may be tempting to go with a new photographer that has rock bottom rates, but after checking out their photos and seeing if you like their style, also consider some of these things beyond the price to ensure your photos AND YOUR WEDDING DAY are everything you hope for:
1. HARD WORKING
At the end of the wedding day, I feel super close with my couples, because I am in. their. face. all. day. Not literally of course, but I make sure to capture as much as I can about their wedding day. Isn't that why you're paying a photographer? To capture the moments you can't be a part of? The best way to tell if a photographer is hard working is to talk to other couples he or she has photographed. A true professional will go above and beyond to try and be everywhere at all times.
I say this jokingly - among being a comedian, navigator, technical nerd, pack mule, and robot who doesn't need food or water, a photographer has to by psychic too. But in all seriousness, a photographer always has to be thinking ahead. He or she should always be wanting to help make your day go smoother, because a less-stressed bride and groom look (and are!) much happier in photos. I pin boutonnieres, bustle dresses, put veils in hairdo's, help dress the flower girls, clasp necklaces - it's all about being servant hearted. Why should I hang back and let a problem unfold if I can step in a solve it? There's plenty of time to photograph the happy moments of the day if your photographer is helping to ensure they happen.
Chances are, there will be some sort of timeline to your wedding day. Chances are, your photographer will have to work under pressure with deadlines. A confident photographer will feel comfortable being a natural leader. Often times, I need to make polite but firm requests of people that are much older than me. You want to book a photographer that is not afraid to speak up, speak loud, and speak with authority. It's very different than being "mean." It's making sure family members are present for photos, it's wrangling those rowdy groomsmen for a group photo, it's having go-to poses to keep things moving quickly. The best way to see if your photographer is confident is to ask them questions like, "How do you handle family photos after the ceremony?" or "What will you do to control my groomsmen?"
And I don't just mean having "blah blah" camera and shooting on "manual" mode, I mean being skilled at bringing out the best in people. Sometimes people are really shy in front of the camera. Sometimes people are flustered, sometimes they are silly, sometimes they have a squinty smile, on and on. It's the photographers job to make sure they know how to handle each unique situation so they can bring out the best in you. I use a stool to shoot down on subjects that may be a little bigger (and IM a little bigger so I can say that!!) Your photographer should also know some go-to seated poses for couples that have over a foot in height difference, or how to pose family members in wheelchairs. Take a peek at his or her portfolio and look for these diverse situations and how they were handled.
If laughter, smiles, and happy guests matter to you, you'll want your photographer to be fun. Like, extroverted fun. You want someone who can make you laugh, who gets in amongst your guests and dances and talks with them, and who just seems joyful. If you're into moody, artistic, serious posing, this might not be as important, but most people want to look happy on their wedding day! How do you know if your photographer is fun? Meet them! Hang out with them! Make them buy you coffee! (I buy everyone coffee. Want to go get coffee?)