Capture the Magic - How to Photograph Sparklers!

Sep 11, 2023

We love seeing how different couples add extra magic to their big day - and one favourite choice is sparklers!

As sparklers only burn for a couple of minutes, you don’t have long to capture those twinkles, and so us photographers need to use our time particularly well.

We're is often asked how he shoots these magical little moments, and this week we thought we’d share some of his tips with you…

Top tips

  1. Choose the right time! Ideally, you want to shoot in blue hour - just after the sun has properly set. If you can gently steer your couples towards that time it will make for the best frames.

  2. Choose a good location - see if you can take advantage of other location lighting to create interesting compositions that not only add context but help you expose the image. Good examples of this could be fairy lights, interesting lamps outside a marquee, or ambient room light spilling out through a window.

  3. Have a handful of lighters and get the sparklers lit at the same time! Matt asks the groomsmen and bridesmaids to hand out the sparklers and then designates the least drunk people to take control of lighting them! When they're all lit at the same time they give off a surprising amount of light collectively.

  4. If you’re going for a ‘tunnel’ style shot, make sure you get everyone in position - ideally before giving out the sparklers!

  5. Shoot with ambient light only, never using flash. Even in the darkest scenario, once the sparklers are lit you’ll be able to get focus and expose a decent image.

  6. Try different shutter speeds. Once Matt’s got a sharp image and some bankers, he experiments with slower shutter speeds to add some variety to the storytelling. Knocking the shutter speed down a touch will add some motion blur as people wave their sparklers, to create an even more dynamic photo. Just remember to balance your exposure by adjusting either your aperture or ISO!

  7. Shoot manual to control your exposure. Once you land on an exposure you're happy with, lock it in and keep shooting. Shooting on aperture priority or shutter priority is too risky in Matt's opinion, as you're giving too much control over to the camera.

  8. Mix up the composition and keep working the scene! The guests will be all around you so keep changing your position to maximise the coverage and frames you work with.

  9. Get close to the action. Fill the frame with depth and use sparklers in the foreground to give off interesting flair and bokeh.

One final tip…

Don’t be afraid to crank up the ISO! We much prefers using ambient light; it’s more immersive and representative of what the guests were experiencing in the moment. If that means he’s got to push his ISO up to get a fast enough shutter speed to capture sparklers, then so be it!

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