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Tips for Fab Fireworks Photography & Sparkler Exits

This is the time of year when we see more fireworks photography and sparkler exit images from weddings, so we wanted to take a deeper look at how some of them were executed.

Our friends at World’s Best Wedding Photos recently posted a blog post titled “Fireworks at Your Wedding” and showcased some of their favorite stand-out images—here are 11 of ours from that selection (scroll through the gallery above for all 11), as well as key tips from some of the photographers who took them. And remember, if you are photographing fireworks at a wedding, stay safe and stay alert!

9. 37 Frames Tracey Dee bride and groom under splashy fireworks 37 frames 1
© 37 Frames
masked bride and groom with hat exit through sparklers photo by talitha tarro photography
© Talitha Tarro

Fireworks Photography and Sparkler Exits: Top Tips

From Tracey Taylor & Dee Green of 37 Frames:

TYPE 1: Use a tripod if possible, say, Tracey and Dee. “When the camera is stable, we always get our best results when we set our camera (in MANUAL mode) to B or BULB. In this mode, the shutter stays open as long as you hold it down.

We tend to count anywhere between 2 to 6 bursts before releasing the shutter. If you don’t have the BULB setting, you can of course set a long manual exposure of several seconds.

TYPE 2: Turn off AUTO ISO if you use it, suggest the photo duo from 37 Frames. “On auto, the camera will try to set a high ISO in the dark. We generally start by setting ours anywhere between 200-800 depending on the ambient and other conditions.”

TYPE 3: “Fireworks and sparklers at weddings generally only last a minute or two,” say, Tracey and Dee, “so knowing your settings is key. The best way to react and shoot fast in these high-pressure moments is to practice, practice, practice.

We try to make use of as many holiday fireworks, summer festivals, and new year’s sparklers as we can. This way we have time to experiment and play with different lenses, f-stops and double exposures, etc. all on our own time. Then we’re always ready for a light show at a real wedding!!”

From Talitha Tarro:

TYPE 4: “Off-camera flash is key to getting a sharp photo during a sparkler exit,” Says Tarro. “Push your ISO up so you can capture the ambient light and dial down the flash power to compliment the moment. I use an assistant to hold the off-camera flash and basically walk with the couple on the outside of the guests.”

From Tom Russo Photography:

TYPE 5: Place the couple in the spot you want them to have pre-knowledge of where the fireworks are coming from,” says Russo.

He also advises you to take some test shots beforehand to make sure your subjects are exposed correctly. “Once I had the couple in the right exposed light I wanted, adding flash was the easy part. I told them to pretend like we weren’t even there and let the magic happen.”

Russo adds that you can use a similar approach to sparkler photos. “Knowing the direction of your light is very important when shooting both sparklers and fireworks. Use a front light, never solely a backlight, it doesn’t always work as well.

7. Tom Russo couple pose against firework display photo by tom russo photography
© Tom Russo Photography

Russo says the way he got the image above was “really simple actually…you have to expose for the fireworks in the sky. It requires you to get set prior to them going off too.”

He used manual mode on both the flash and the camera. “Camera settings were somewhere around f/2.8-f/4 and ISO 250-400.

Shutter speed was somewhere around 1/200 of a second so that you don’t have motion blur in the fireworks.

I used a GoDox V860 speed light, which was set to 1/8 power, just enough to light the subject and have a quick enough recycle time to keep firing without missing a moment. I shot this on a 35mm f./1.4 Sony GM lens and a Sony A7R III body.”

From Ash Davenport, MIKI Studios:

TYPE 6: Always try to light the couple so that you can see them with the brightness of the fireworks. The fireworks are the main event, but you always want to see the couple.

TIP 7: Davenport says it’s not always possible, but try to get a few moments “mid fireworks” to get the couple to do something different other than looking at the sky (shown in this image below).

3. MIKI Studios Ash Davenport bride and groom under a sky full of fireworks by miki studios
© MIKI Studios/Ash Davenport

TIP 8: “Shoot the shit out of it with multiple options, whether with the cameras you have on you or others,” says Davenport. “I always like to set up a remote camera set to auto-capture every 1 second on a tripod that will continuously capture the fireworks and the scene.”

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