Saturday, June 16, 2012

Where Things Come Back

Where Things Come Back, originally uploaded by margotwood.

WHERE THINGS COME BACK by John Corey Whaley, is one of those rare books that long after you've read it, you still get it out of your head. It's not about zombies, although they do make brief imaginative appearances, and it's not about a dystopian society, although sometimes it feels that way. It's about a boy who is coming of age in a small, backwoods town in Arkansas. It's about a boy who feels trapped by his surroundings and is desperate for change. It's about a boy who must deal with the sudden disappearance of his beloved younger brother. It's about a boy trying not to lose hope and trying to find himself and occasionally trying to find a woodpecker. No seriously....this book is all over the place but somehow still cohesive enough to be remarkable.

At least, those are all the things I get when I read this book.

This is a quiet, special novel and it deserves a calm, reserved, special photo to go with it. When coming up with an idea for the photo for this book, the most important aspect, I felt, was that I try my best to match the tone of the book.

I really, really want to tell you all about the particular scene I'm recreating here (on page 56 if you have the book) but I can't do it without spoiling too much of the story or without giving any background info. So I'm going to stay away from that and instead just tell you how I achieved this shot.

Step 1: Find a young man who'd be willing to float in a river for me. I tapped two brothers who I used to babysit, who are now in their late teens. Man I feel old....

Step 2: Find the perfect body of water. A lake wouldn't do because I needed a current. A steam wouldn't do because the boy needed to float. A river would do, but it had to be shallow enough for me to get in there as well. So I settled on the Little Miami River, a smaller river in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Step 3: Wade across a semi-deep river without getting your fancy camera wet. Yeah, I have no sound advice on this. In retrospect, what I did was a dumb idea and could have been disastrous. My advice is wear a swimsuit (which I didn't do) and put your camera in a zip lock bag and then inside a water proof bag, just in case. Thankfully I didn't trip on the rocks while crossing the neck deep river, but still...BE CAREFUL.

Step 4: Find a tree that is overhanging the river so you can crawl up the bank, shimmy up the tree, balance over it and photograph the floating boy from above. Once advice is to think that through before you spontaneously decide to photograph that way.

Step 5: If it's sunny out, photograph in shade. Bright sun is a death sentence when it comes to photography...shade is always better!

Step 6: Mute the colors in post-processing. Bright flashy colors would not work for this photo because when I read the book, the color palette in my mind was all subdued or darker earth tones and shades of dirt.

Step 7: Show it to the author of the book and sit back and smile because he loved it. :)

And I hope you like it too. If you haven't read the book, I suggest you do. It's so different from anything else I've read in the young adult world. If you HAVE read it and want to chat with me about it and the photo feel free to email me! I want to hear from you and get your opinion!

And finally.....

Check out this photo in a larger size!


  1. Very interesting! Can't wait for the full post. Love the way the water mutes the color.

  2. LOVE. Especially the almost pink color in the bottom right corner. Now I need to read the book.

  3. Wow, this is amazing. Perfect for the book! Worth all the risks you took with your equipment.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so thrilled you found my blog and yes, I think the risk was definitely worth it!

  4. I loved this book, too, and am happy to have stumbled across your blog. Stunning photos of many of my favorite books.

    1. Oh yay someone who has read this!!! Going back, I realized that the boy was actually shirtless, so I kinda forgot that part but I think the point of the moment gets across.....maybe?

  5. I love this, Margot! Quiet (and quirky) novels are up there with my favorites, and this one's been on my list to read for a while. I live right by the Little Miami!!! The kids and I go down there a lot to skip rocks and wade around. xx

  6. AWH you were in Cincinnati? I wish I could've met you! I love all of your photos and have made an epic awesome book list based on all your Young Adult series pictures. c:

  7. That photo is brilliant. A perfect match for a most excellent book.

  8. I just finished this book called The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd and I had to check that this picture wasn't from that book because it evokes this exact tone.