Emily Bogle at NPR News: The Life Of Christmas Trees, Before The Merriment

While many are putting the final touches on their decorated Christmas trees across the country this week, photographer John Lusk Hathaway is more concerned about the trees before they were chopped down.

Hathaway, who has a background in science, always thought it was strange to see trees growing in such rigid patterns, as opposed to the natural way they grow in forests.

He started photographing tree farms in Cherokee National Forest in northeastern Tennessee three years ago as part of a larger project on land use and land management called wild-life. But he later realized that the tree photos were a story of their own, touching on concepts of environmentalism, consumerism and religion.

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