Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

Confronting depression with photos, this artist’s works are ‘keen emotional witnesses to this broken world of ours’

August 10, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Tara Wray’s new book “Too Tired for Sunshine” (Yoffy Press, 2018)  is beautifully melancholic. Wray took most of the photos in the book in Vermont during a period when she was experiencing a bout of depression. The subjects of the photos are not very remarkable on their own. But they are drenched in the emotions Wray was feeling as she made them, transforming them from potentially banal observations about everyday life into poignant vignettes about what it means to be alive.

On the Kickstarter page Wray set up to raise the funds needed to publish the book, she gives us more insight into the project. First, she addresses the title: What does “Too Tired for Sunshine” mean? She says it is “the experience of feeling so melancholy that not even a sunny day can raise your spirits.”

Wray’s book focuses on the kinds of things you would see every day living in the rural northeast, or as she says, “daily life and wanderings, the photographs in this work focus on unsettling subjects – backyard slaughterhouses, melancholic dogs, disrepair in various forms – as well as depictions of isolation in people, animals, and objects. Often I find myself photographing subjects that appear drastically out of place, seemingly devoid of context . . . making photographs and sharing them allows me to get outside of my head and connect more fully with the world around me. I hope this work will inspire others to discover a sense of unreality in their own world.”

While many of the images in Wray’s book are clearly meditations on melancholy, there is whimsy too. Nestled in between the forlorn images are glimpses of humor. For example, as you are flipping past photos of empty diners and glum snowy landscapes, you will also encounter a smiling older woman sitting in a car with curlers in her hair, or a dog wearing what seems to be a snow suit. As Aimee Bender says in the introduction to the book, the images in the book, “become keen emotional witnesses to this broken world of ours.”

You can buy the book here or here.

(Tara Wray/Yoffy Press)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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Kenneth Dickerman is a photo editor. He previously worked as a photo editor at MSN in Seattle and TIME in New York City. Before that, he worked as a freelance photographer specializing in politics and conflict and his work appeared in The New York Times, TIME and US News & World Report among other publications.

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