When I came home for the holidays, I noticed an old and unloved novel on my bookshelf. It was Catcher in the Rye, the American classic that I remember being indifferent about when I was forced to read it in the 9th grade. It was quick, so much so that I finished it off in a few nights without actually reading anything, and came to the conclusion that Holden was a lame protagonist and the “phoniest” of them all. That’s what made me pick it up: the realization that I was ignorant and uninterested when I read it 7 years ago and this time, maybe, I could actually learn something.
I got pretty sentimental after reading Catcher. It’s a bildungsroman, a coming of age story, and seeing Holden grapple with growing up and losing his innocence made me think a lot about time and my very limited bit of college (read: childhood) left before postgrad life begins. I’ll spare you the details about my newfound clarity, but the book certainly made me think about the big kahunas: youth, time, maturity and how there’s no rushing or slowing any of them, and that we must stay true and genuine. I thought about how my images could be a better extension of my current self, candid and real-time emotion turned into imagery, rather than a fabrication of what I believe they should be and represent (because that would be phony).
Which brings me to this shoot with Atha, one that really has nothing to do with Catcher in the Rye or Holden or growing up, but rather has to do with a girl in a maple tree that helped me capture what had been pent up inside myself lately: stormy weather and Stormy Weather, the leaves that dance around my feet come my favorite season, end-of-semester fatigue, bare branches against brooding skies, falling leaves like falling stars, my sketchbook finally running out of pages, a runny nose and sore throat, arms outstretched towards January, this constant feeling that I’m simultaneously flying and falling, and everything else that was present in the rain that day.
It’s funny that my last shoot of the year happened in the branches of a maple tree. While hundreds of its orange leaves were still waiting to fall, you could see fresh growth, little green nubs sprouting all over its thinnest stems.
Model: Atha Davis