Many photographers will react with surprise to the title of this article. Why would a photographer want to choose which couples he or she photographs? Well, at least some wedding photographers are concerned only about profit. They accept every booking available whether or not their style and abilities are appropriate for the stated photographic requirements. This is arguably a short-sighted view because unsatisfactory results not only disappoint the couple and increase the chance of complaints, but may also damage the reputation of the photographer. However, professional wedding photographers, like all of us, have to earn a living.
Some photographers, at least among those who have more potential bookings than they need, meet the bride and groom with a view to deciding whether they wish to photograph their particular wedding. If the photographer's photographic style matches what the couple want, and the location is suitably photogenic, the booking will probably be accepted. However, if mismatches are revealed, or the wedding is to take place in a location known to be difficult for photography, the photographer might decide to refuse the booking in favour of one that is likely to produce better results.
This usually unspoken trend continues after the wedding. Photographers' contracts normally contain a clause which gives them the right to use the wedding photographs they take for advertising and publicity purposes. Those that appear in sample wedding albums and on wedding photography websites are often the best images they have created over the years. The photographs they select tend to be those that show photogenic couples, not only in beautiful locations but also dressed in beautiful clothing and equipped with eye-catching accessories. Indeed, some of the images seen on wedding websites, and in sample albums, show professional models dressed in expensive hired outfits rather than real-life brides and bridegrooms.
So what makes an ideal wedding from the point of view of a photographer? It should be acknowledged at this point that the priorities stated below are purely photographic, and admittedly have little to do with the really important matter of the day - the joining together in marriage of two people. A reasonably young, photogenic couple clearly make a good start. Notice the use of the word "photogenic"! This is somewhat different from "attractive" although the meanings of the two words in this context may overlap to a significant extent. As well as being attractive or handsome, the couple ideally need to be adept at presenting themselves to a camera. They will know how to position their bodies without being guided by the photographer, and will be able to adopt suitable "looks" at the required moments, smile naturally etc. Some couples can do all this much better than others. To a select few it is all second nature. Others will not even know what the photographer means. Hence the difference between "attractive" and "photogenic". An ideal couple will also wear good quality and well-fitted clothing which complements their personal style and appearance. The bride and bridesmaids will probably be wearing expensive dresses complemented by elegant accessories, and will be carrying beautiful colour co-ordinated bouquets. The colours involved will have been well considered.
The venue for the wedding service or ceremony should be attractive in its own right. Religious ceremonies in churches and other places of worship may offer wonderful photographic opportunities in terms of light and architecture. However such locations will vary in terms of their broader settings and the views of the priests in charge. Civil weddings take place in all sorts of venues ranging from castles to council offices. Unusual venues, such as gazebos in gardens, also exist. For a photographer, the castle end of the scale is usually preferable because it inevitably offers more possibilities. At the other end, some of the rooms located in council or other premises can only be described as depressing. They may be dark and bland, and devoid of any character either inside or outside.
The venue of the wedding breakfast or post-wedding celebrations will be elegant and incorporate several photogenic locations and private corners offering good light, natural backgrounds and perhaps even a lake with the potential for wonderful reflections. The weather should be bright with a slightly overcast sky to soften shadows. Summer weddings are therefore often the best bet. The timing of the service or ceremony, and of the wedding breakfast or other celebrations, also has photographic significance. Late afternoon or sunset can produce wonderfully soft light suitable for photographing people.
Last, though certainly not least, the couple must be willing to give some of their precious wedding-day time exclusively to the photographer. Good images take time to prepare, and the couple must balance the demands of the wedding and the needs of their families and guests, with those of the photographer. Inevitably a compromise must be found.