Here are some of my expert tips and suggestions for creating unforgettable photoshoots at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Golden Hour

Timing is everything for a memorable family or senior photoshoot. Schedule your session during the golden hours, just after sunrise or before sunset, to take advantage of the soft, golden light. Making it out to the Salt Flats early in the morning is really hard since the drive is pretty long. I schedule my sessions for the evening times instead. We start one hour before the predicted sunset time but I have my clients meet me in the parking lot 15 minutes prior to that start time to organize our things and use the restroom, if needed.

So Much Glare!

To ensure clear and vibrant senior or family portraits, consider using polarizing filters to minimize glare from the salt surface. This simple trick will make your seniors shine even brighter against the stunning backdrop. The sun can be really strong at and reflect off the white salt, so I like to bring a large reflector to aim those sun rays back at my client to fill in those intense shadows on their faces/bodies. You can also bring an external light and stand to use to fill those shadows in and pop your subject off the background.

Play with Angles

Don't stick to one angle—get creative! Experiment with different perspectives and angles to capture the uniqueness of your family against the surreal landscape. Low angles can add drama, while higher vantage points offer a fresh perspective. Make sure to turn your clients towards the sun as the sun sets behind the mountains of the salt flats. At that time, you will see a gorgeous purple/pink/bluish sky behind your client and gorgeous subtle glows on clients' skin and eyes.

Flooded Salt Flats

If you're lucky enough to find go when the salt flats are flooded, your family/senior photoshoot will have a whole different look with added reflections from the water. Keep in mind that the salt flats do flood during late winter and possibly other times during the year depending on weather. The water is usually only a few inches deep. Make sure to bring shoes that can get wet (I wear rain boots). If you have any equipment you are bringing with you or your clients have extra clothes to change into, be sure to be a plastic bin out on the water so you can set those aside in the bin without getting them wet or full of salt.

Random Tips I Find That Have Helped Over the Years

  • Bring water! The salt flats are notorious for drying out your mouth and making you super thirsty so make sure to bring something to drink!
  • The wind can get really bad at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Make sure to check the wind gusts prior to leaving. The wind picks up the salt and can make your photoshoot pretty miserable if it a particularly windy day.
  • The drive to the Salt Flats is pretty long and boring and there aren't many places to stop so prepare ahead. I bring snacks and drinks and fill up on gas prior to leaving. I also like to bring an assistant who can help during the session and also someone to keep me awake on the drive home!
  • The salt gets on everything! So make sure you aren't wearing clothes or shoes that you can't mess up.
  • Sometimes you can go out to the Salt Flats and there is a fog/haze that makes it to where you can't see the mountains much at all. Sometimes it is best to check the live camera feed from this website prior to going to see what to expect:
  • As of early 2024, cars are no longer allowed on the Salt Flats - they put up barriers to prevent drivers from taking their cars onto the salt flats due to eroding. Not sure if this will change in the future.
  • Most clients don't know where they are supposed to go so I will send them the spot of where to meet. You will want to meet at the west rest area right off the main highway. I've included the google map below.
  • Wendover, Nevada is a great spot to stop after your session for gas and food. There are few fast food places to grab something to eat for your drive home.