The Music to Life Series

August 14, 2015 The Hanging Tree – Dark Forest Conceptual Photography Posted In: James Newton Howard

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Music to Life Song of the Week: The Hanging Tree by James Newton Howard

I first heard this song sung by Jennifer Lawrence from the movie, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” and almost instantly I knew what my next concept was going to be for my Music to Life Conceptual Photography series. It’s not a literal interpretation of the song, but powerful nonetheless. I envisioned a girl imprisoned in tree roots, and although it looks bleak for her, her life force is giving strengthening all the plant life around her.

Girl wrapped in tree roots dark forest in conceptual photography image by Jimmy Bui.

How I Shot It

This was shot in San Diego, California at Sunset Cliffs. There’s an area there where the tree roots are exposed and it was the perfect location to shoot my concept. Shannon, the model, wasn’t actually entwined in the roots, however. She sat up against the dirt and positioned herself in front of the roots, and later on in photoshop, I placed the roots on top of her. The roots were already there, I just need to erase parts of her body to make it look like she was trapped underneath them.

Play “The Hanging Tree”

If you’re interested in shooting a Music to Life series image, message me at and don’t forget to visit my website and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you so much! 


The Hanging Tree by James Howard

Katelyn Shannon

Canon 5D Mark III

Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art

1/200 sec; f/5.6; iso 100


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Jimmy Bui

I am a wedding and conceptual portrait photographer based in Southern California. When I'm not shooting weddings, or planning my next weekly photo for my Music to Life series, you may find me at Disneyland or the zoo spending time with my beautiful wife and daughter.
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