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This Photo Book Offers A Surrealist Window Into Mental Illness

by Zoë Naseef


Tara Wray, author of our photography interview series Lady Shooters, just released a new photo book called Too Tired for Sunshine (Yoffy Press). The book explores depression through photos representing life’s daily moments in a way that is both whimsical and dark. Wray utilizes absurdism and dark humor to portray the realities of mental illness.

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Wray is a photographer, writer and filmmaker living in rural Vermont. She is from Kansas but considers Vermont, where she shot most of the book, to be her adopted home. The images were mostly taken between 2011 and present day. 

Although she has a background in documentary film, in 2008, Wray turned her attention to still photography. She has self-published two other photobooks, Each One Wonderful and Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long.

In the forward to Too Tired For Sunshine, novelist Aimee Bender writes, “There’s plenty of comedy to find in here—a pizza-faced child, a deer butt between restrooms, some kind of blurry eager goat. And there’s also loneliness and abandon: the solitary oven under trees is both funny and then so sad… These images—of animals dead and alive, the woman with curlers in her hair, another standing in the back of a dump truck wearing a calm smile—become keen emotional witnesses to this broken world of ours.”

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The images hold a surrealist quality that keeps the viewer engaged to see what will come next. The journey that the book takes the audience through hits high and lows that visually represent mental illness as Wray experienced it.

On her Kickstarter for the book, Wray writes, “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.”

Order Too Tired for Sunshine here.

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All images are from the book Too Tired for Sunshine and were used with permission from Tara Wray. 

More from BUST

Photographer Aline Smithson Makes The Familiar Look Beautiful And Bizzare: Lady Shooters

Photographer Vivian Fu Explore Races, Gender, And Sexuality- And Food: Lady Shooters

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