Midway, Utah Ice Castle Tips for Photographers

young woman at the ice castles in a blue dress

Year after year, the Ice Castles pull in massive crowds, attracting thousands of people who are eager to experience their enchanting beauty. As someone who's passionate about photography, I look forward to these visits with my senior representatives every season. It's become somewhat of a tradition for me, and I've been going for quite a while now.

One of the great things about shooting at the Ice Castles is that you don't need any special permits or permissions. However, it's always a good idea to know what to expect before you go. Over the years, I've learned a ton of helpful tips and tricks that can really elevate your photoshoot experience. Whether it's finding the best angles, making use of natural light, or capturing the magic of the ice sculptures, I've got plenty of insights to share from my years of experience. So if you're planning a photoshoot at the Ice Castles, I've got you covered with all the advice you need to make it a success!

Tip 1:

To ensure a seamless experience for both you and your client, it's essential to reserve tickets for the same time slot as your scheduled photoshoot. As part of my process, I typically include the cost of admission in the client's invoice and take care of ticket reservations myself. This guarantees that we secure matching time slots, eliminating any potential scheduling conflicts. Each time slot spans a generous 30-minute window, providing ample time if you are running late. It's important to note that while you must arrive within your designated time slot, you're welcome to stay until closing, allowing for flexibility and maximizing your time at the venue.

You can reserve tickets on the Utah Ice Castle website by clicking HERE

Tip 2:

To steer clear of the crowds, I like to begin my photoshoots in the shaded areas on the outer edges of the ice castles. These spots usually get shaded in the afternoon and are conveniently located right after the ticket booth but before you reach the main opening arch. Starting here helps avoid the hustle and bustle, creating a more relaxed atmosphere for capturing stunning shots without any distractions from the crowds.

Tip 3:

Just a quick reminder, it's a no-go to bring in lighting stands or any other bulky gear without getting the green light from the management first. So, I keep things simple by using a handheld, battery powered light without any diffuser or soft boxe. Instead, I rely on a trusty assistant or a helpful family member to hold the light and aim it at the subject, making sure they're well-lit and looking their best. This approach not only keeps things hassle-free but also does wonders for combating that pesky blue tint that often sneaks onto the models skin when posing next to the ice castle. By lighting the subject just right, we're able to capture more natural and vibrant shots, making the whole experience even more magical!

young woman in a blue dress posing at the ice castles
young woman sitting on the ground at the ice castles in blue dress

Tip 4:

To help my clients stay comfortable and cozy during their photoshoot, especially in chilly environments like the ice castles, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Firstly, I recommend clients wear pants and boots underneath their dresses if it's suitable for the shoot's aesthetic. This not only keeps them warm but also allows for greater mobility and comfort while navigating the icy terrain. Additionally, I suggest they stash hand warmers in their pockets and boots for extra warmth—small touches like these can make a big difference in keeping everyone comfortable and happy throughout the session.

I'm all about making sure my clients have an enjoyable experience, so I also factor in short breaks during the shoot. After shooting for a few minutes, I'll suggest taking a breather, allowing them a couple of minutes to warm up with a coat or blanket, if needed. This approach ensures that no one feels too cold or uncomfortable, and it gives us a chance to regroup and capture some truly magical moments without any discomfort getting in the way.

Tip 5:

Bring a sled that you can pull on the ground for your camera bag and any other stuff you or your client need to haul around during the shoot. The snow and slush at the ice castles can be thick in places, so having a sled makes it easy to drag everything along without any fuss. It's a simple trick that can save you a lot of hassle and time during your shoot!

Tip 6:

For the best time at the Utah ice castles, try scheduling your shoot on weekdays (non-peak days) when it's not as busy. You'll save on ticket costs and deal with smaller crowds, making for a more relaxed experience. The ice castles are usually open from mid-January to late February, depending on the weather. Just remember, they're closed on Sundays, so plan accordingly. Choosing a weekday session during their open season means you'll have more space to explore and capture amazing shots without the weekend rush.

Note: In January of 2024, prices were $25 per adult/$17 per child on peak days. Prices on non peak days were $19 per adult/$12 per child.

A little history and fun fact:

I started these sessions back in 2020 with an idea to have my senior rep girls look like ice princesses with big prom gowns. We rented the gowns from local shops and coordinated makeup and hair. Every year has made heads turn and created such a buzz among the crowds! But the best part for me each year? Watching the little ones' faces light up with excitement as they think they've stumbled upon real-life princesses like Elsa. It's a magical moment that adds an extra dose of charm to our annual ice castle shoots. Check out this sweet video of last year's (2023's) session and watch the reactions of the kids to seeing "princesses" at the Ice Castles.

Real Life Princesses