The Magical Ice Fest in downtown Saint Joseph is a weekend of entertainment for the whole family and a great place to take fun photos. Ever year the event gets bigger and better. There are ice carving competitions, a run/walk, magician, Fire & Ice Party, Hawaiian Luau performances and more. This is one of my favorite events to photograph for several reasons. First the carvers love what they do. Second, the people attending the event are very cheerful. Third, ice carvings are an enjoyable challenge to photograph. Moreover, there is a great diversity of activities going on which constantly provide interesting photo opportunities. In this blog, I am going to focus on the fun of taking photos at this event, if you are looking for the specific details on the event please visit magicalicefest.com.
The fire & ice tower is a great start to the event and provides some extra warmth on the usually cool evening. The light from the fire gives everything around it a warm glow and everyone huddled around the structure gives it a nice close community feel. The flames and sparks light up the sky and the light coming from area businesses really makes for some charming photos.
The Fire & Ice party at Shadowland on Silver Beach is a vibrant, lighthearted event that is always a joy to take photo of. The colorful lights, smiling faces and Martini Luge create vibrant images. The stars of this event are the fire dancers. The color, light, movement and sense of danger are inspiring. I really like taking long exposures to show the motion of the fire during the dance.
Individual competition and professional team competition are both fascinating to watch. In the individual competition you see the carvers varying inspirations and creative techniques shine. The subjects of the sculptures vary highly as does level of skill in producing them. The carvers all work in relatively close proximity and this is great for photos. The way the snow-like ice sprays from the saws and drills and covers the carvers, and at times observers, is fun to capture. The determination and intensity of the carvers is also a favorite subject of mine during this event. There are lots of great moments during this event because many of the carvers not only create great work but provide entertainment while carving, goofing around or engaging in conversations with spectators. Because this event takes place in downtown in close proximity to several businesses, there is great, colorful light to work with and lots of spectators both indoors and outdoors to include in the photos.
The professional team competition is where the big carvings are created. Watching the large pieces come together is impressive. There are lots of great moments to capture. Big ice means lots of ice flying and anxious moments when large pieces are fused or carving on thin areas. My favorite moments during this event are the carving of last-minute details. You can see the stress in the faces of the carvers as they try to perfect the sculpture while keenly aware that, with a mistake, the carving could partially or fully crumble. After carving they clean up the pieces with a torch, and the fire and ice makes for nice images as does the way the melting ice glistens in the sunlight.
There are lots of other great subjects to capture during the day like the magician, hula dancers, frozen fish toss, and other entertainers. I circle though the event numerous times taking photos and watching the progression of the carvings.
The excitement of Ice Wars is another great part of the event to capture. The flying ice, fun interaction between carvers and the faces of people watching it is delightful. This is one of the most entertaining moments of the weekend. The joy that the carvers have in their work really shines here. There is a lot of laughter, lighthearted sabotage of competitor's sculptures, lots of goofing around and the crowd really gets into it cheering and laughing. The MC's kindhearted taunting of the carvers adds to the fun. When I am taking photos, I love looking for the silly moments, and the fun expressions on people's faces
The best time to see all of the finished carvings is in the evening. During blue hour (the hour after sunset) a little blueish light in the sky mixed with the light from downtown really make the pieces glow. A great way to photograph the sculptures at night is to look for angles where the sculptures are backlit. The light and color coming through them really adds a sparkling colorful dimension to the photo.
Overall, be sure to have your camera out at this event; it is such a delightful part of winter in southwest Michigan.