For a simple answer, I would say, choose a wedding photographer by looking at other weddings they have shot. If that work would satisfy your requirements, then you are done…assuming you can afford it. There are other details, for sure, and this issue can become quite complex and difficult, but if you have found a wedding photographer who has already consistently produced the quality and style of work you want, then you will most likely be very happy with the results.
I have one caveat to that. When checking out wedding photography, make sure you look through a full album from one wedding. A photographer’s “greatest hits” only tell you that they will have a couple keepers from each wedding. See how a photographer covered one full day. For something as important as a wedding, most of us want a professional who can consistently capture photos throughout the day.
Here is a quick note about wedding photographers who advertise a “photojournalistic style”. What that has come to mean (in the wedding world) is photographers who only shoot candid shots, meaning, they do not really know how to take portraits or posed shots. In reality, though, true photojournalists do both: newspapers and news magazines will have a wide variety of both candid and posed portrait shots. I would honestly say, beware the wedding photographer who says they use a photojournalistic style. That might mean they are not well rounded enough as photographers to pull off nice portraits, which are a necessity of any wedding day…at least, in my opinion.
And here is one thing which is very important to me, and which is doubly important in wedding photography: what do the photos say? Do people look natural? Can you feel the emotion of the moment? Do you feel like you are just looking at a photo or like you are part of the scene yourself? Can you understand what is going on from the photos themselves? I have seen lots of technically wonderful shots that say absolutely nothing.
You also could check on a few small detail items that could really make a difference:
- Does the photographer have back up equipment? (This is a biggie!)
- What services (or how much time) are included in the cost?
- Can you have references to past clients to ask what they thought?
Choose carefully. Far too many couples are dissatisfied with the photos from their wedding day. The most frequent complaint is from couples who choose a friend or family member instead of a seasoned wedding photographer. As soon as I write that, though, many examples of so-called professional photographers leap to mind who are only “professional” in the sense that they get paid for it, not in that they are highly skilled at it.
You usually get what you pay for, but I have seen excellent photographers with years of proven quality experience advertising the same price as the upstart photographer who thinks he is worth that kind of money. So, I would still advise some caution.
Judge a tree by its fruit.