Inspiration, Photography

A Thirst for Stories

Yuliya Rae Seattle PNW library photoshoot portrait photographer

My love for reading began when I was ten. My best friend and I would walk forty minutes through the city to get to the nearest library where we would spend hours perusing their offerings, reading summaries to each other to see what story we wanted to read next and checking out books by the dozen, coming home with sore shoulders from the press of the stack.

But it wasn’t until my twenties that reading transcended the status of a hobby and became more of a religion. I couldn’t get enough of books. Every time I walked into a book store or a library all I was seeing around me was not stacks of books but rows of doors to alternate realities, to stories full of knowledge, wonder and magic.

In the last several years I decided to challenge myself to read as many books as I could but quickly realized that my goal was too vague. So I set out a small objective – read 20 books a year. Once I met that quota I would move on to 30 and now, having met that one too, I am aiming to read 50 books this year. So far I am 31 books in and I am loving the literary journey I have been on.

I’ve learned about vulnerability and courage from Brene Brown’s work. I stared death right in the face as I went to Paul Kalanithi’s MRI and chemo appointments in When Breath Becomes Air. I had my hands in the dirt, touching the leaves of a plantain alongside Robin Wall Kimerer in Braiding Sweetgrass. I am dipping my toes into botanical knowledge as equally as into faery realms in fantasy novels and I love the diversity of human imagination, research and telling of stories.

So in my shoot with Skyler I went to my favorite place in the world – the Seattle Public Library. Smack downtown, its beautiful glass walls jut out at strange angles and invite the eye for another look. The light inside is divine.

The idea was to capture environmental portraits, letting the surroundings dictate our shots. I am so glad we went to the library – it was full of wonder, exciting discoveries like walls full of cyan blue or a magazine with a big headline of The Future is Feminist.

I hope these images inspire you to visit your local library and check out a book that has been on your to read list for a while. Or just stop in, look around and see what catches your eye.

Books have a magical ability to change your life. Let them.

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