This article is the first in a series of book lists brought straight to you by various creative professionals. First up is photographer, Kendra Deen.
A few years ago, Deen came to realize that her day job was not making her happy. Looking for something more creative to light her up, she began taking photography classes at Ryerson University. After that very first class, she knew photography was more than a hobby and decided to make it a career.
Now, just a handful of years later, she runs Wild Little Hearts Photography, a successful lifestyle photography business, specializing in a unique point of view. With Kendra’s work, you won’t find many poses, or awkward family photos. She captures moments. Glimpses of time that are full of emotion. Deen believes photos are one of the most important pieces in our lives. As she says, “Photographs, like books, can take you anywhere. They can take you to another country, to another time, to another feeling. Nothing becomes more valuable over time than a photo.”
She literally brings joy to life, and gives the world way more than a thousand words a picture. With success in the art world photographing everything from children, to Barbados sunrises, and even jewelry, we have to wonder what inspires Kendra to create such beautiful work.
Perhaps one of the biggest influences in Kendra’s life has been books. Like us here at #AmReading, she loves a good read, and here are eight books that have inspired her in one way or another:
1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
“I read this book years ago and still get a lump in my throat every time I think about it (the pomegranate, amiright?). Set in Afghanistan, it’s the story of two boys and their friendship as children through to adults. Any story about children is definitely going to make me cry — but this one was particularly devastating, beautiful, and powerful for me. (sidenote: I watched the movie Kite Runner on a flight once and 30 minutes into it I was crying so much a flight attendant came over with ginger ale to ask if I was okay. I decided it was best to turn it off and try watching it again at home where ugly crying is more acceptable)” – Kendra Deen
2. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
“This book takes place in Toronto and Kingston, two of my hometowns. It’s a murder mystery which isn’t normally a go-to for me but the storytelling is so captivating I’ve read it multiple times. Also count me in for any historical fiction about the 1800s. Also did she do it or not!?”
3. Dry by Augusten Burroughs
“This book is a tough one. It’s a memoir about Augusten’s battle with alcoholism and the relapse he has after losing his ex to HIV. I read it during a difficult time — after the loss of someone very important to me — and it stuck with me. It’s raw and it still lingers in the back of my mind.”
4. Flavia De Luce Series by Alan Bradley
“Quirky, dry and hilarious. These books are murder mysteries (what was I just saying about not liking murder mysteries?) set in England and solved by an 11-year-old Flavia de Luce. Although they are written from the point of view of a child, as Judy Coon says ‘only those who dislike precocious young heroines with extraordinary vocabulary and audacious courage can fail to like this amazingly entertaining book.’” #yes”
5. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
“Fact: I judge and buy books based on their cover (I mean…) I bought this book and tried to get into it twice and gave up twice. Finally I said, okay beautiful book, we’re going to make this work. The third time was the charm and I ended up falling love with this book. It’s about four amazing women and how their lives converge in Masada in 70 CE.”
6. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
“Who didn’t like The Goldfinch? I was so nervous for Theo, I couldn’t put the book down. I fell in love with Hobie and imagined walking through his antique store. I think everyone knows the story of The Goldfinch but for those who don’t, it’s about a boy who survives a terrorist bombing in which his mother dies. He accidentally-on-purpose takes a painting with him, to remember his mom by, as he climbs out of the rubble. This leads to a life full of secrets and lies.”
7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
“It’s hard to imagine this book is a memoir. Reading it I kept thinking okay, something good is going to happen now, but then the footing would fall out and we (because I felt like I was there) would be two steps back. The book follows Jeanette from childhood to adulthood while she recounts everything from poverty, to loss, to much worse. For me, the book acts as a reminder to never make assumptions about who people are and to always lead with compassion.”
8. National Geographic by National Geographic Partners LLC
“I know this isn’t a book but I’m pretty sure that 80% of the reason I became a photographer was because of National Geographic. I remember sitting on the floor flipping and re-flipping through all the glossy pages, staring in wonderment at all the stunning images. Lining up the rows and rows of bright yellow spines brought me so much joy — and I dreamt of having one of my images tucked in among their pages (still do — in case anyone from National Geographic is reading this…cough cough).”
It’s easy to see why Kendra Deen’s work is so full of life and love when you look at the books she chooses to read. Do any of these books inspire you to pursue something creative?
YouTube Channel: The Art of Photography
Featured image via Jessilynn Wong Photography