How to Photograph Fireworks

How to Photograph Fireworks

One subject that many photographers, especially beginners, find difficult to photograph are fireworks. They look so bright and magical in the sky, but sadly the colour and detail turns into a blurry, flat mess when captured by the lens. For anyone with a desire to capture the magic, Tony Hakim Photography has this guide on how to photograph fireworks.

  • Equipment

Due to the nature of fireworks-related celebrations, you’ll need a tripod. Try to keep it closer to the group and away from any potential jolting. A remote release is also a good investment – these hands-free triggers prevent any potential movement of the camera by not needing the camera itself be touched.

  • Light

One problem many photographers run into is that typically, light is the illumination of the subject, not the subject itself. For fireworks, you are literally photographing light in different colours and movements. You’ll need to turn off your flash, as it will dull the overall shot. This also allows a longer exposure – many photographers recommend the longest possible exposure.

  • Location

Location, location, location. Scout the area before the event to take into account any particular places you can set up shop. Try and wait til the area is set up, so that you know where any obstructions are, or where certain areas are cut off. Try to avoid positions under artificial lights – that will definitely mess up your colour and lighting settings.

Try and find areas that will add extra interest – like public sculptures, buildings or plants. Remember to take into account the wind direction – you definitely want to be up wind, or risk getting stuck in the smoke and haze. And don’t forget to arrive early, or your perfect spot could be snapped up.

  • Set-Up

When you arrive, get yourself set up straight away. Test out the framing you want. Make sure you put your camera on the correct settings. Whilst many cameras now come with a ‘fireworks’ mode, if you want to be truly in control, set your camera on manual mode. Don’t forget to remove any filters (or lens caps) before the show starts.

  • The Shoot

Go for it! Aim to get the bulk of your shots at the beginning of the show, to avoid the smoky haze that settles during a fireworks show. The earliest fireworks are usually the crispest and brightest, as well. But take as many photographs as possible – the more pictures, the more chance you’ve managed to capture the moment!

  • Experiment

This is the number one rule of all photography, really: experiment. Play around with your settings, your composition and your angle. You want your shots to pop, and the best and most effective way to do that is to do something different and try something new.


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