Adventurous White River Falls Engagement Session

I’m super pumped about this engagement session because it not only includes one of my favorites couples, but it also was shot at one of my favorite places. I couple years back, I visited White River Falls State Park for the first time during a solo road trip through central Oregon. It was a mid-week afternoon in the spring just before my wedding season really kicked into high gear, and I found myself bored, so I tossed my camping gear in my Subaru and hit the road. My main destination was the Painted Hills, and hitting up White River Falls on the way back into town was an afterthought.

Little did I know that the park would quickly become one of my favorite locations in Oregon to explore. With its thundering multi-tiered waterfalls, dilapidated hydroelectric plant, sandy beaches, and rocky cliffs to either lounge upon or jump from, the park offers an impressive number of features within a close proximity to keep adventure enthusiasts busy. While traipsing about the park, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had to get a couple out there for an engagement session. But I not only had to find a couple who would be into the two-hour drive but a couple that would also be brave enough to entertain my vision of standing at the edge of waterfalls and dunking into icy cold river water. Despite my enthusiasm for the location, two years passed and I still hadn’t found the right couple. But then Adrienne and Steve got engaged.

I first met Steve shortly after I settled down in SE Portland something like 9 years ago after returning from teaching English in South Korea. He lived a couple blocks from my house and was one of the first friends I made in the city. He’d often show up unannounced at my door while walking his dog, Bear, around the neighborhood, and we’d drink beers on the front porch. Steve also worked at the nearby climbing gym and introduced me to bouldering, which has since supplanted running and soccer as my primary activity outside of photography. So I have him to thank for that!

A couple years ago, Steve started dating Adrienne and I’d often run into them at the climbing gym together. I could tell they made a wonderful pairing, both creative individuals—Adrienne a designer with a background in architecture, and Steve a custom furniture builder—who love the outdoors. I feel like I actually got a little trial run for photographing their wedding because last year I also photographed Adrienne’s mom’s wedding at Alloro Vineyard. So when Adrienne and Steve asked if I’d photograph their wedding this year I was immediately on board, and I knew they’d be the perfect couple to take out to White River Falls.

We began our trip by meeting for a few beers at the Rainbow Tavern in Maupin, and then once the sun had set we took our own brews down to a dock floating on the Deschutes and drank them as bats skimmed the water in search of bugs. Afterward, we posted up at a nearby BLM campsite along the river and played Yahtzee while eating gummy snacks in the back of Steve’s truck. In the morning, we gobbled some oatmeal and fruit and watch the rafters take on rapids before we cruised out to White River Falls, spending the afternoon relaxing on rocks and attempting to approach the falls as close as possible before being propelled backward by the shear force of the crashing water.

Finally in the evening, we eventually got around to shooting. I was particularly proud of myself because my attempt to time the positioning of the sun so that it would back light the waterfall went according to plan, and I was super excited to finally fulfill my goal of shooting an engagement session at one of my favorite places with the perfect couple. And with that, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. — KC
















































2 replies on “Adventurous White River Falls Engagement Session

  • Mark Taylor

    Dear Mr. Carnes,
    I am the Park Ranger for White River Falls State Park and I notice there was no filing for a permit to either A) Perform a Professional Photography Session and B) No permission given for trespassing in the photo shoot locations, namely the Pools beneath the Falls, the Condemned power house, and creation of new trails.
    I recommend the next time you wish to have a photo shoot, you contact the appropriate people and get the proper permits.
    Thank you for your time.

    • Kyle Carnes

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for getting in touch and making me aware of the permit requirement. Could you please contact me at and send me the contact information for requesting a photography permit in the future? Much appreciated! 🙂



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