How To Photograph Fireworks

July 3, 2013 by  

Fireworks Montage on 4th Of July

Fireworks Montage

    Fireworks are an American tradition that we use at least once year on the 4th of July. They are also a photographic tradition that many people shoot without a complete understanding of what it takes to photograph fireworks in all their colorful glory. It’s really not hard to do and in this post I’ll explain to you how to do it.

Flower Shaped Fireworks on IB Pier on 4th Of July 2011

Flower Shaped Fireworks In Imperial Beach

    The first thing to know is that you should have something in the foreground to give some scale and a sense of locality to where you are shooting. A big, bright fireworks show in the sky can happen anywhere so if you have people, a place or a thing in front of it, your audience will be able to know just how big and where it was. When you give your photo some scale, it will do wonders for the viewer.

First Fireworks On July 4 2011 off Imperial Beach Pier

Fireworks From Imperial Beach Pier

    All right, so no you have something in the foreground to give your fireworks photos some scale so what comes next? You need to figure out where you are going to be when the first fireworks go off because that just may turn out to be your money shot. Fireworks leave a lot of smoke in their wake so the first few bursts will be the clearest shots you get.

Imperial Beach People Before Fireworks

People Watching Fireworks On The Imperial Beach Pier

    Allow me to digress for a moment. Take the time to take a couple shots of the people watching the fireworks display you will be shooting as well as the place. Believe it or not, connecting with your audience is very important because they want to know they have been or can go to or were at the place you are photographing. In a world where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a camera in their pocket or an iPhone in their hand it is becoming very difficult to separate a professional photographer from a person that is not.

Imperial Beach People Before Fireworks

Imperial Beach Pier On 4th Of July

    If you want my honest opinion, professional photography is going the way of the Dodo bird. I’m not saying that is a good or bad thing, it just is what it is. Live your life and spread as much joy as you can until something bigger and better comes along is the best any of us can do.

Imperial Beach Portwood Pier Plaza Sign and Fireworks on July 4 2011

Fireworks On The 4th Of July

    At the end of the day, people will be looking at your photography so having a human angle will help you out in the long run. I live in the United States of America which is a country run by the people for the people so when we celebrate our birthday every summer, we want to see ourselves in the glory of the moment. We want to see where we were on that specific 4th of July. We want to know that what we did on that day may go down in history.

Hotel Del Coronado Christmas Fireworks

Hotel Del Coronado & Full Moon With Fireworks

    By this point you should be able to start putting it all together. Above we see the Hotel Del Coronado, a full moon and fireworks all in the same photograph. It’s pretty awesome isn’t it? By this point you should also notice that I haven’t said anything about tripods, shutter speed or aperture either. That’s because we are in the digital age where the what is far more important than the how. Just get out there and shoot! Most fireworks displays last ten minutes or more so with modern technology you have more time to get a great photo than most people in history have had to raise a family!

Hotel Del Coronado Christmas Fireworks

Fireworks At Hotel Del Coronado

    Get as close as you can and take photos the entire time because you never know what you’re going to get. You want to know how to photograph fireworks? You just point your camera to the sky and shoot. Cheers!


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