I've had two, totally separate people recently tell me that the wedding photographers they chose weren't great & they didn't get the shots they wanted. Thinking about this, I started to think about how couples go about choosing their photographers?
The very first priority for all couples choosing a wedding photographer is to meet up to discuss exactly what shots you are actually looking for. You need to think whether you want formal, reportage/documentary photographs from your day or a mixture of all these?
Photographers need to know the expectations you have and if you have 'dream' shots in mind. The wedding photographer is there, a gooseberry in your day, to help you get what YOU want, not to follow their own agenda. Each wedding couple are different and don't have the same wants & needs, so it's a must that the photographer takes time to get to know you as a couple before the big day. I'm not meaning the photographer becomes your best buddy or joins your social circle, but a couple of hours talking, maybe visiting the wedding venue(s) to have a recce and most importantly, to feel comfortable with each other. If there's an uncomfortableness about it all, then I would myself have to question if I am the best photographer for the couple.
All this said, there have to be some formalities about elements of the day. On average at a wedding I allow 5 minutes for each formal group shot to be done. Only 12 shots in an hour seems very little, but I'm never far off from that mark. People moving and gathering for these photographs can be timely & a drag, but with the help of the best man, ushers & bridesmaids, you can generally get help pulling everything together. Engaging with the family, friends & wedding party will not only help you during the day, but everyone will start relaxing with you when you point the camera at them .. well, sometimes!
These are just my thoughts and my ways of working & a little bit of a guide to help you get the best photographer for YOU for your wedding day. I'm sure there are photographers out there who don't engage with couples like I do - everyone has their own style and way of working. I just know I get my best work by getting to know the people behind the suits, dresses & formal wear of the day.
Finally, make sure you see the photographers work from other weddings/events. Most wedding photographers display work on their sites or will send you links. Look at their style and make sure you like it - funny thing to say, but sometimes this is totally missed in the planning. It's a day you can't re-run if the photos don't come out as you'd hoped.