Friday, September 09, 2011

Photography in YA

I really love it when I come across different books with the different themes and characters and emotions but that share a common interest. And I keep coming back to different things that I'm interested in myself, like a post I wrote recently about how music shapes the story or the characters. Today, I'd like to look at some books that involve photography. I can't say that I know much about photography at all. The different settings and lighting and shutter speed and all of that completely goes over my head, but N enjoys doing it. (He's even got himself a photography blog if you're so interested!)

And I love seeing the photos that he ends up with, whether it be of the boys or nature photography or some strange experimental photography to do with lights and blurring and other things that I have no clue about. It seems as though I'm attracted to creativity like this because I'm unable to do it myself. So naturally, I like to read about other people's experiences as well... Here are three YA books I've read in the past which dealt with photography in some way.

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier - Born Confused is a book I read before I started properly blogging. It's a book I absolutely adore and one that I continually come back to because I love its message and the quirkiness of the characters. I really relate to the issues it brings up about belonging and identity and friendship and I absolutely love the misunderstandings and tension in the romantic relationship involved. But another aspect of Born Confused that piqued my interest from the beginning is that the main character, Dimple Lala, is really interested in photography. She has her own 'darkening room' and she takes her camera around with her everywhere, even to clubs where other people go to dance.

I think the biggest part of this interest is how her photos were used to tell a story to her grandfather back in India. Looking at her photos, he's able to understand what she's trying to tell him even though they share little common language. I like that the emotions that can come across in photos is universal and that they can say things that sometimes words cannot.

Flash Burnout by KM Madigan - Flash Burnout is such a great book. It's really fun and funny as well as covering really serious topics a mother struggling with drug addiction and also that of friendship and honesty and secrets. The main character is an adorably clueless teenage boy trying to navigate his first real relationship as well as juggle the emotional needs of a friend in his photography class.

I think it's really interesting the way in which photography plays a part in this story. It seems to use all of these different photography techniques to mirror and also frame the events going on in Blake's life and also that of the two girls in his life. Fab book.

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers - I do so love Courtney Summers. I find it incredible how well she is able to make the reader feel such complicated and extreme emotions just from words on a page. I'm in awe of her. In Fall For Anything, it was much the same for me. I felt like I was living Eddie's life as she struggled so hard with the suicide of her beloved father.

Eddie cannot grasp or find any meaning in her father's suicide. He seemed to have so much, a wonderful career as a photographer and teacher, a loving family and life. So Eddie pours over what little she has of her father - his photography. And with the help of a mysterious and slightly disturbing student and with the final photos that her father took before he died, Eddie goes on this mission to find answers and solve the aching question 'why?'

I haven't yet read it, but Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs mixes a strange tale of fiction and photography that could very definitely be added to this list of books. I'm really looking forward to reading it and seeing how these unusual and slightly creepy photographs shape the story.

Can you think of any YA books that deal with photography? Do you enjoy reading books about your favourite hobbies and pasttimes?


  1. I love photography so this post is really interesting for me. I haven't read any of those books but they all sound fab.

    I did love how Ransom Riggs wound photos into Miss Peregrine. It definitely added something to the story for me.

  2. What a fab idea for a post! I think everyone knows how much I love my camera by now but like you I don't know anything about shutter speeds & all that kind of thing (I really would like to take a course one day!). I don't think I've read any books that include photography in them but all the ones you mentioned sound really interesting so I'm going to have to check them out. Thanks for the recommendations :o)

  3. I think that Miss Peregrine sounds like a good book but I am not too sure about it - brilliant post!

  4. Interesting subject for a post! I reviewed Born Confused a couple of weeks ago. I can't think of any other books in which it's a really main part, but it is featured in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin, and Dylan from the Diary of a Crush trilogy speaks to Edie for the first time in a photography class!

  5. Jenni - I really love photography in books and TV - there's just something about it that appeals to me. Looking forward to Miss Peregrine, for sure.

    Sarah - Thank you, All of these books are really wonderful - please do pick them up :)

    Zoe - Thanks :)

    Julianne - Now that you mention it, I do vaguely remember photography being there in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, but it doesn't really stand out for me. I still need to read Diary of a Crush!!


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