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The Real Fauxtographer: YA Lit + Art = Awesome (Guest post by Margot Wood)

A couple of years ago, I was googling “The Perks of Being a Wallflower quotes” when I stumbled across a beautiful photograph with a quote from the book on it.  This is when I learned that all over the Internet people were making beautiful art from their favorite YA books.  Since then, I have become fascinated with the mingling of visual art and ya lit.  I was thrilled (and awed and amazed and stunned) to stumble upon the amazing Margot Wood.  She is a photographer and YA reader who creates photographs of some of her favorite YA books.  How does she do it? What inspires her? I am honored to introduce her to you today.

Hi everyone! I am so thrilled and honored to guest blogging here at TLT. As an avid teen book reader and library go-er, I love knowing that passion for books and support for libraries is still alive and kicking in today’s digital age.

So anyways, I guess I should introduce myself and tell you all about this fun project I’m working on. My name is Margot Wood and I am a digital designer by day and photographer by night. Two of my biggest hobbies are reading YA books and taking photos and this winter I was trying to come up with a spring project to work on (something I like to do every year) and this year I decided to combine my two loves into one amazing project: a series of photos inspired by my favorite young adult books!

Why young adult books? Well, I  have received so much from them. I mean I get to go on an adventure with each book and I wanted to honor these amazing stories and since I can’t draw, paint, sculpt or writer music I’m using my camera to pay tribute to the authors and the genre that has brought me so much happiness.

In addition to just having a blast trying to do these photos, I have found that this project has really kick started the creative side of my brain. This project has given me something to think about, plan for, work towards and have fun with. 

So, how did this idea first come to me? Well, I was reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be a really cool photo if Mary was standing in the woods and zombie hands were grabbing her?” So then I decided to quit waiting for someone else to do that photo and just do it myself. And here’s the finished product:
You can read the full story behind this photo (and all the others) on my blog, therealfauxtographer.com but I was so happy with the way that photo came out that I thought “Hmm, maybe I should do more of these!” The next thing I did was make a list of all the YA books I’ve read and narrow down that list to my favorite ones, then narrow that list down to the ones that would make for really cool photos. Since the Forest of Hands and Teeth photo I have produced approximately one photo per week, one for each book and I have six photos in total so far. Here are a few of my favorites:
Based on ASHFALL by Mike Mullin
Based on DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
Based on ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
I am having so much fun with this project, and I’d like to invite you all to join me! Grab your cameras and take a photo inspired by your favorite book!
But before you head out, here’s some advice:
-Go into your photo with an open mind. It’s easier to get a successful photo if you already have an idea of how you want it to look or the style or theme of the photo, but be flexible with the results. If what you originally wanted to do isn’t happening, make adjustments as you go along with whatever is available to you at the time.
-Have a problem? Get creative with your solution! For that Across the Universe photo I needed some way of making it look like Amy was being cryogenically frozen. So how the heck was I going to do that? Well, after doing a little research on Flickr for “frozen portraits” I found a few pics that inspired me. Frozen glass! But how do I get my hands on frozen glass? Well, I used the glass from a picture frame, wiped it down with Listerine (to get that blue color) and stuck it in the freezer! Problem solved!  
-Pick a book that inspires you. It’s important to choose wisely with your books, only go with one that really speaks to you or left you with an impression. Don’t have one in mind yet? Head to your library and tell your librarian about the project and ask for a recommendation for a book that would be fun to do for the project. Since I’ve started this project most of my photo ideas have come from books that people on Twitter have recommended to me!
-Interpret at will.The nice thing about my project is that I can do whatever I want with my interpretations. That means it can be a literal interpretation of a scene, character or title or you can do something that gets the mood or feeling of the book, or it can just be anything that reminds YOU of the book. This is art, it doesn’t have to be accurate. You make it what you want to make it.
Now that you have some advice, get out there and start taking some photos! I can’t wait to see what you come up with and stay tuned for more photos from my series. Happy reading and photogging!
This is a great way to get your teens creating and expressing themselves; to engage them in literature.  After meeting Margot and following her project I realized that I had been doing a form of this on my own with the pictures that I post here on my blog, though without the high level of skill and talent.  My homage to the Real Fauxtographer can be found here.  And throughout the Teen Programs in a Box you can find ways to get your teens creating ya inspired art whether it be through the Book Quotation Celebration, creating haunting photos inspired by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, or creating a Angel fiction inspired 3-d book cover starring your teens.  You can find those programs and more in the Teen Programs in a Box Table of Contents.
You can follow Margot on Twitter (@margotwood), on Facebook and at her blog.  Stay tuned in here in the coming weeks as authors Beth Revis and Mike Mullin discuss their reaction to their photographs and share their amazing books with us.  Beth Revis is the author of Across the Universe, a great science fiction race against time to save the lives of those on board a spaceship built of secrets and murder.  Mike Mullin is the author of Ashfall, a spine chilling dystopian tale of what happens when volcanoes erupt and the world is covered in ash.
Please be sure to leave Margot a comment in the comments letting her know how awesome she is, what book you think she should do next, or share art projects you have done with your teens based on ya lit.

The Faux Fauxtography (Teen fiction and photography)

Margot Wood is a lover of YA lit and calls herself the Real Fauxtographer.  She has a blog where she takes pictures inspired by her favorite YA fiction.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should because she does some amazing photography.  If you are fan of this blog you know that a lot of my teen programming ideas involve having teens create their own teen fic inspired art projects.  From illustrating their favorite quotes from books to recreating book covers with a picture of themselves on the front, there are a lot of ways that teens can cross art with fiction.  The two are wonderful dance partners, to say the least.  Because I am a huge fan of the Real Fauxtographer, I thought I would share some of the pictures that I have shared here in the last year inspired by my favorite teen fiction.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I hope that Margot is flattered.

Miss Pereregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


I had just finished reading this book when I took a shot of my then 2-year-old and accidentally cut off her head.  To me, it evoked the pictures in the book and inspired the Teen Program in a Box outline for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  I still love this book and the TLT Teen Reviewer Cuyler recently shared how much he loved it too.

The Hunger Games

While going camping one weekend with 40 plus Girl Scouts (why yes, yes it was torture thank you) it rained a lot. And I do mean a lot.  But that weekend my daughter did some archery and inspired a post called Be Your Own Katniss.  And every time I looked out the window I was sure I was living my own dystopian nightmare in a ruined world full of 40 shut in preteen girls.

While walking home from school one day I was taking pictures of my pre-teen and she got sick of it and shied away from the camera.  To me, when I saw this photo, it evokes Hannah Baker.  Every time I look at it all I can think is this is what Hannah must have felt.
You may have heard, but I love love love the book Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.  It is a superbly written book that speaks to a topic I feel passionate about.  And it is beautifully written.  While taking a walk one day I came across this tree with a heart carved in it and the initials turned out to be relevant so I snapped this pic.
In contrast I took this picture of a bench in the park and it reminded me of how they felt in the Delirium society that if they removed love they would have more control but as we all know, you can’t really control nature – or human nature.
I am a huge fan of zombie novels and post apocalyptic fiction, for reasons that I have explained. One of the more recent ones to hit the shelves involves a strong, independent young woman named Alex who is saved by the very fact that she is going to die from a tumor in her brain.  That book is Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick.  I took this picture of one of my very favorite teens, Val, and it evoked the feeling of Ashes for me.

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson is the tragically beautiful love story of star crossed lover.  The language of this story has always stayed with me and emphasizes the idea that sometimes two people are meant, are destined, to come together in life.  One day as I sat watching my two daughters snuggle together, I thought about this book and how in their own way they two were meant to come together.  This picture also inspired my TPIB idea The Book Quotation Celebration.
This is the only picture that I purposely took because I was doing a publicity piece for The Downside of Being Charlie and the upcoming contest with Jenny Torres Sanchez for The 2012 Project.  In her debut book, a young man named Charlie uses photography to help express himself.  This is a heartbreaking and inspiring contemporary novel.  You should check it out.

Variant by Robison Wells is another wicked cool dystopian with some phenomenal twists.  This picture isn’t so much inspired by the book as it is an actual depiction of someone reading the book – but up in a tree.  It was just too fun not to include.  People should read more books up in trees.
 It is this picture, however, that better evokes something from the novel itself.
So here’s a tip: If you do a google image search with the name of a book that you love, you can often find some amazing art inspired by it.  Or you can always create your own.  Share your favorite teen fic inspired art by linking to it in the comments and let me know what you think of mine.
Check the TPIB TOC (Teen Programs in a Box Table of Contents) for a lot of great activities that you can use with your teens to create their own teen fic inspired art.  Be sure to check out the Embrace by Jessica Shirvington inspired 3D art project where your teens become the cover models for their own angel paranormal fiction.
Other art resources from TLT:
and More