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Witch of the Autumn Forest

A beautiful fall photo shoot in Spokane's Finch Arboretum.

Sometimes inspiration for a photo shoot can be hidden in plain sight. An idea that, once I finally think of it, I'm surprised it took me so long. (This particular idea took me two years to realize it was in my head.) My dear friend, Carly, has wanted to do a fun photo shoot with me for a while. I kept putting it off because I wanted the perfect fit for her personality and, until recently, couldn't think of what that would be.

Two years ago my husband and I got married in the woods. We had beautiful torches lining a bridge. When the sun set the flames illuminated the bridge in a magical way. Everyone took turns taking photos and dancing in the torch-lit forest. And then Carly got on the bridge. She was wearing a black velvet cloak, a red dress, and her hair curled. She knelt down, drew her hood over her face, and put her hands out on her knees. It was perfect. The photographer had already left for the night, so we used a phone to snap a quick photo of her. We loved the style and she used the image for her Facebook profile picture for a while.

Fast forward two years. I've been pushing myself to do more photo shoots, and lately I've been thinking of Carly, and how she has told me if I ever want her to model for me to reach out. So I started brainstorming ideas. Maybe something witch-y? Out in the woods? And then it hit me. All I needed to do was create a photo shoot based around the image from my wedding. So I reached out to Carly and told her my idea, and she was on board right away.

For each photo shoot I like to look up inspirational images. (I have too many Pinterest boards to count.) Sometimes the final result looks completely different than the original inspiration, but I think its good to start with a basic concept. I shared this collage with Carly so we could be on the same page in terms of style and vibe for this photo shoot.

(Pinterest Collage)

She asked me the night before how I wanted her hair and makeup. I didn't give her a lot of direction on that. Knowing Carly, I knew she would create something beautiful on her own. And I was right, her makeup was perfect.

I imagined this photo shoot to be around colorful autumn trees. The best place I could think of, that has the most amazing selection of trees this time of year, is Spokane's iconic Finch Arboretum.

When we got to the park I was so excited because the trees were exactly how I pictured them in my head. The range of colors throughout the trees was incredible. A perfect reminder for why Fall is my favorite season.

After parking, we headed straight to the back of the park. There was a specific bridge I had in mind that I wanted to use for our images. Hauling multiple bags of equipment through the park was difficult to say the least, and we were happy when we made it to our destination. That happiness was short lived however, when I looked up and saw the bridge I wanted to use was now gone. All that was left were a couple of rusted metal beams where the bridge once stood. At first I panicked. That was the basis for most of my photo shoot, what was I going to do? But then I took a breath and starting thinking. There are still beautiful trees all around us, and there is another bridge (although not the same style of bridge I wanted). The second bridge was much farther into the park and the thought of carrying our bags even further almost made me not want to do it at all, but I turned to Carly and said, "Sometimes the best shoots are the biggest pains in the ass." She agreed and we decided to take some quick photos around the trees before making our journey to the second bridge.

Satisfied with the images we captured in the vibrant leaves, we began the trek to the second bridge. We used the metal beams to cross the stream and walked uphill on the dirt trail winding through the trees. Although it wasn't the bridge I wanted to use, it was still a fantastic location for our photo shoot. The only problem, was that the best angle to photograph from was directly in the stream. A little water wasn't going to stop me though. I put on my rain boots and "dove" in. We lit torches and put them on top of the bridge, where I also had Carly stand, and began taking pictures. I can honestly say I'm glad we put in the extra effort to travel to the bridge, the scene was beautiful.

The sun was now setting and we only had a couple minutes left before it became too dark to take any more photos. I took a few more pictures of Carly in the stream and on the trail before heading back to the car.

With the evening spent dancing in leaves, and playing in cold streams, we ended our adventure exhausted but satisfied. And although the final images turned out differently than my original vision, I'm really happy with them and wouldn't change a thing.

Make sure to check out the behind the scenes video here:

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