This is a huge decision for me. I have a lot of wonderful photographers in my life, but I also have a no working guests policy. I keep adding names to the list instead of subtracting them. There are so many wonderful gifted photographers out there and I deserve to have one of them. The only things I will get to keep after the wedding will be the ring and the photos.
My new planner suggests interviewing no more than five of each vendor. I'm so decisive I'd been laughing at that advice, but this is the list where narrowing it down to five was really hard. I knew my budget and that I wanted a modern/photo journalistic approach. I also knew that I don't care about an album or prints (so long as I have some time to order them afterward). The trouble is, as with any creative professional there is no standardization in how they price their services. Some charge by the hour, some do a flat rate, some have packages and some have everything a la cart. Some limit the number of proofs and prints and some give you everything. I knew I wanted as many hours as possible and a DVD of all images.
That being said it's hard to compare prices because one is more than the other but gives more hours and includes a DVD or not..., etc. There was one or two I really liked and sadly erased from the list because regardless of what they were offering they were too expensive. It's much harder to compare the ones that are close in price. Like I said none of them charge the same way.
I narrowed it down to two front runners and two alternatives. I sent the gallery links to the bridesmaids and my mom for feedback. I read all the lists of "questions to ask" in regards to the photographer. I emailed the two who didn't share pricing information on their sites. I heard back from one which puts her leagues ahead of the competition I love quick responses. Also, I love her photos. Now I'm taking Mike's advise and writing out the minimum and maximum I would take or want from each to get a price range for each of them.
Not everything in wedding planning is magical. I didn't find "the one" when I picked the dress. I got resourceful and made it what I wanted. Very effective with fabric not so much with vendors...I want to choose wisely. Not solely on talent or likability, but some combination of the two.