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The ability to capture something sad on a happy occasion is one of the psychological expressions of wedding photojournalists. What do you feel when looking at this photo?

The scene at the foyer of the Chevra Kadisha Synagogue in Montreal is busy with young men and women who are about to enter the main sanctuary of the house of worship for a wedding ceremony. Separated from everyone else, immobile, and joyless is an older woman in a chair illuminated with light coming through the windows. She looks and feels forgotten.

The banal reality is that most of the brides and grooms want to remember only the happiest moments from their special day. Mainstream wedding photography that you can find online these days centers around the idea of bliss. Understandably so, certain events should be associated with certain feelings, the majority says. Also, that’s what sells commercially, and therefore that’s what most photographers strive for – photos of everyone laughing, hugging and having tons of fun.

We humbly disagree with the majority and mainstream approach. Apart from happiness, beauty also exists in sadness, just like it exists in all qualitative properties of human experiences. Restricting photo-journalistic coverage to a limiting set of preconceived emotions denies the photographer of intellectual communication and their work turns from art to a commodity.

For this image, Michael Greenberg was honored with a 2nd Place Award in the Wedding Photojournalism Category by the esteemed WPPI annual competition.

Location: Chevra Kadisha B’nai Jacob Synagogue, 5237 Clanranald Ave, Montreal, QC H3X 1V4.

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