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Book of the Week: Too Tired For Sunshine by Tara Wray


Book Of The Week Too Tired for Sunshine Photographs by Tara Wray Reviewed by Owen Kobasz Tara Wray confronts depression by documenting the beauty, darkness, and absurdity of everyday life. Drawn from daily life and wanderings, the photos explore loneliness and isolation, as seen through a lens of absurdist dark humor.
Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.
Too Tired for Sunshine
Selected as Book of the Week by Owen Kobasz.

Too Tired for Sunshine.
Photographs by Tara Wray.
Yoffy Press, USA, 2018. 134 pp. 75 color illustrations, 7x9".

Tara Wray’s recent monograph, Too Tired For Sunshine, is a collection of photographs with little context besides the title. Wray defines the title phrase as: “the experience of feeling so melancholy that not even a sunny day can raise your spirits. ‘Dorothea wanted to enjoy the crisp winter afternoon, but she was simply too tired for sunshine.’”

Melancholy exists in the unique mix of photographs that make up Too Tired For Sunshine: a stack of boxes labeled “disappointment,” a lonely oven left in the field, a deer butt mounted between two bathroom doors. These snapshots are heavy, but they also have a lightness about them— Wray’s pictures capture the beautiful, sad, and absurd elements of everyday life. Often simultaneously.

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.

This very personal collection of photographs was shot in Vermont during a bout with depression. Wray writes: "I bring my camera with me everywhere I go, and if I’m paying attention, at some point I'll just start to see things that are obviously meant to be pictures.”

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.

The topography of Too Tired For Sunshine takes us on a journey through emotion. The feelings come in waves: dark, grounding images pull us back to the earth after beautiful compositions detach us. Bright, life-affirming bursts are followed by the brutal reality of a backyard slaughterhouse. Sunrays shine through in action shots: a snapshot of children mid-pillow fight, a dog and woman jumping into a lake. Mellow tenderness is a grey bunny. Sternness, a grumpy black dog.

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.
Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.

Animals play a special role in Too Tired for Sunshine. Dogs appear poking their heads out of car windows, rolling around in the grass, and grumpy on slushy porches. The dog on the title page is a sort of enigma: ridiculous in a yellow sweater, but self-serious all the same.

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.

Agriculture is a big part of Vermont life and a significant element of the book. Features of farming appear in tender moments, like the little chicken held in the hands of a strong man wearing a cut off AC/DC T-shirt, as well as in darker scenes, like a gloved hand holding an animal heart. Blood is speckled on fresh snow.

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.
Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.


Hunting also appears. On the floor of a garage, the body of a deer is dismembered and arranged neatly. Two men hold a taxidermy bear— made no less terrifying in death. At one moment the animals of Too Tired for Sunshine are companions, at the next sacrifices. In this they mirror the mix of emotion, of humor and sadness, present in the book.

Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.
"Many of these photos were shot on days when I wasn't sure I could get out of bed, but they were my saving grace, and when I see them in the book I get a warm, bittersweet feeling, because I'm reminded not of depression but of how strange and how lovely the world can be.” —Tara Wray
Too Tired for Sunshine. By Tara Wray. Yoffy Press, 2018.
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Too Tired For Sunshine has since inspired Too Tired Project: a new photo initiative that aims to help those struggling with depression by offering a platform for collective creative expression.

Owen Kobasz edits the blog & newsletter at photo-eye. He holds a BA in the liberal arts from St. John's College and takes photos in his free time.

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