Ashdown Forest in the Fall with Thea Courtney

Thea Courtney, of Cocoa Jones Photography is a child and family photographer, based out of London in the UK. Thea has a beautiful, natural and relaxed approach to portraiture and is sharing a personal session with us, today.

1 Children hike in field at golden hour by Cocoa Jones Photography

We were on a Sunday hike in Ashdown Forest, which is only about an hour away from central London, and is listed as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Ashdown Forest is a mix of open heathland and ancient woods, and is a magical place we love to visit that’s steeped in history. The Forest is where the well loved ‘Winnie the Pooh’ books were set, as the author, AA Milne, lived nearby, and used to take his son Christopher Robin hiking there. The area that my family and I were hiking in was the open heathland, which dates back to the 11th century, when it was used as a hunting forest. In Tudor times, Henry the VIII courted Anne Boleyn at her local childhood home, Hever Castle, and he also owned a hunting lodge close to the heath.

Fall is an inspiring time of year to get out in the countryside and shoot, as the colours are beautifully warm, especially when the landscape is lit up by the late afternoon sun, just before dusk. On a more practical note, the kids don’t yet need to wear a big, heavy winter coat, which can distract the eye in portraits and also restrict their movement as well. Also, golden hour is much earlier on the day, meaning you can photograph your children in beautiful light and get home in time for their evening routine.

A perfect fall day would be one where all my senses are used to their max…I love the smell of bonfires and musky, damp leaves, the taste of a crisp English apple freshly picked from a tree, the breathtaking blaze of colours found in nature. As summer fades, I sometimes feel a little wistful at first, but the mellow richness of fall reminds me that every season holds it’s own form of beauty and serves the role of preparing us for the cold of winter to come. Without the contrast that comes with each season, we wouldn’t experience the enjoyment that comes with each one as much. John Keats described fall in his poem ‘To Autumn’ as; ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun’….and I don’t think I can improve on that!

Thea shot this set with a Canon 5D mark 11 and a Sigma ART 35mm lens.


To keep up with Thea online:


2 Boy whittles on a stick by Cocoa Jones Photography

3 Family on hike while man reads map by Cocoa Jones Photography

4 Family with dog reads mapy by Cocoa Jones Photography

5 Girl and dog on dirt road by Cocoa Jones Photography

6 Girl picks wildflowers in fall by Cocoa Jones Photography

7 Family hikes in countryside by Cocoa Jones Photography

8 Family hikes through tall grass by Cocoa Jones Photography

9 Boy smiles in tall grass by Cocoa Jones Photography

10 Girls holds wildflowers in fall by Cocoa Jones Photography

11 Girl tucks wildflowers in her pocket by Cocoa Jones Photography

13 Girl amongst wild ferns by Cocoa Jones Photography

14 Boy and girl stand amongst wild ferns by Cocoa Jones Photography

15 Boy and girl sit in pine tree by Cocoa Jones Photography

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