long exposure with sparklers

Wedding Photos with Fireworks

It’s the 4th of July, and that means fireworks! I grew up out in the country, so fireworks were a big part of my childhood. We’d do bottle rocks, jumping jacks, black cats, and all the traditional stuff. The best part was that we would have leftovers and could use them all year long! Now that I’m a wedding photographer, I’ve learned to incorporate my love for fireworks into my photos.

Wedding Photos with Fireworks

Over the years, I have created some really fun wedding photos with fireworks. Some of them were really easy to do and others required more. I thought I’d share some of my favorite wedding fireworks photos and how to make this magic happen at your wedding.

Sparkler Exits

The most common use of fireworks at a wedding is by far the sparkler exit. I’d say at least 75% of weddings do a sparkler exit. Basically, all the guests line up in two rows and wave sparklers as the couple runs down the center lane.

Sparkler exit

The Good

Sparkler exits are a great way to end the night. It’s a way to get the guests involved because everyone loves sparklers, and it creates some really cool photos.

The Bad

Unfortunately, not every wedding venue allows sparklers exits. Someone might hurt the venue, hurt another person, or it just makes a big mess. I have yet to see anyone get hurt during a sparkler exit, but I have come close to getting burnt myself.

Sparkler Exit Tips

There are a few things you’ll want to do to make the sparkler exit safe and wonderful for all. One, buy the longer sparklers and buy plenty of them. It’s always sad when someone’s sparkler dies prematurely or there aren’t enough to go around. Also, the long sparklers let the couple run more than once. Two, make sure people are spread out far enough. The couple wants it to be exciting but not that exciting. Make the two lines at least 7 ft apart. Three, get a blowtorch or a bunch of big lighters. Lighting all the sparklers might be the hardest part. You want to make sure everyone gets lit quickly. End the exit with something fancy, like a dip or big kiss. Give everyone something to chear about!

groom carrying bride during sparkler exit

Long Exposure Sparkler Photos

I really enjoy doing creative photos with my wedding couples later at night. One popular type of shot is the long exposure sparkler photo. In these photos, you see streaks of light coming from the sparklers. There are different ways of doing this. You can have someone run around the couple or you can use the sparklers to spell out something or make a design.

Long exposure sparkler wedding photo

The Good

Long exposure sparkler photos are really unique. When people see them, they stop and say wow. They also allow for all types of creativity. I’ve done things like spell LOVE or have the couple make a heart.

Spelling love with sparklers

The Bad

Long exposure sparkler photos do require a bit of time and work. To set up, figure out things, and do several different shots, it usually takes 10-15 minutes. It will also require plenty of extra sparklers.

Long Exposure Sparkler Photo Tips

You will need to prep to make this work. One, make sure you have plenty of sparklers. Two, the photographer needs a tripod. Long exposures require the camera to be really still because each photo lasts 2-5 seconds. Three, find a space that’s flat and away from people. You don’t want anyone to accidentally get burned, and a flat space makes it easier to set up a tripod and for people to run.

sparkler long exposure

Smoke Bomb Photos

I remember pretending I was a ninja as a child and blasting through a wave of smoke. Smoke bombs can also be used for wedding photos, and they don’t even have to be a ninja!

engagement photos with smoke bombs

The Good

Smoke bombs are a lot easier to deal with than sparklers. Smoke bombs aren’t going to light anyone on fire and don’t require extra photography gear to make it work. You also can use them during the day or at night.

I really love the variety you can get with smoke bombs. There are tons of different colors to choose from now, and you can get the old school balls or ones you hold in your hand.

The Bad

Smoke can be a bit unpredictable. Getting the smoke exactly where you want it can be a challenge. You can place it in certain places, but the wind can easily make all your smoke disappear. It’s also hard to know how many you need to use. If you don’t use enough, the smoke is too thin or nonexistent. If you use too many, the photo becomes a smokey blur. I’ve also been disappointed with the colors. The smoke bomb might look bright orange and turn out to be really dull.

Smoke Bomb Photo Tips

Smoke Bomb photos are going to require some trial and error. One, buy plenty of them and get a variety. You will find that some work well for your goal and others do not. Two, if you are putting them on the ground, put them behind the person. It’s better to have the smoke floating in from behind, so it doesn’t block their faces. Three, try mixing two different complimentary colors. You could have blue coming from behind the guy and orange coming from behind the girl.

Mortar Shell Photos and Other High Explosions

I love explosions and colors. You can get that from different types of fireworks, but mortar shells or other big packages are my favorite. With this type of wedding photo, you’ll have the explosion of color in the sky with the couple in the foreground.

wedding with fireworks photos

The Good

These photos are really fun! They look cool when they work, and if anything, it’s a fun show for everyone. It also can be used as part of the exit or big finale. It will definitely be different than most wedding photos.

The Bad

These type of photos can be difficult. First, it will cost more money to make this happen. Mortars and other big explosions will cost around double that of long exposure sparkler photos. Second, to pull off this photo, it’s going to require some additional lighting and require good timing.

Mortar Shell Photo Tips

You will want to prepare and plan before trying to take on this task. If possible, get one of the big packages that you light and it does all the work. Shooting individual mortar shells is much harder to pull off. Next, you’ll need to consider the position of the couple and the fireworks. You’ll want the fireworks relatively far away so the angle to get the couple and the fireworks isn’t too difficult to get. Most likely there won’t be great light on the couple, so the photographer will need to add light. It could be flash or a constant light. Last, take a lot of photos. It can be difficult to time the explosion and burst, so firing off a bunch of shots is the best chance at getting the perfect shot.

long exposure mortar fireworks wedding

Fountains and Other Low Sparks

I love seeing how fireworks are incorporated into entertainment events. When superstars or events start, there will be all types of fountains going off as they run in. Even though I haven’t done any of these type of shots yet, I think they would be awesome for weddings.

The Good

Fountains have a lot going for them. They are relatively cheap compared to mortars but can put on a good show. I think they can range from $3 to $15. There’s a lot of variety to them. You will get all different types of colors and sparks and heights.

The Bad

One of the biggest problems come from the good side of them have variety. Yes, it’s nice to have a lot of different options, but this leaves you not knowing what to expect. You have to test out several different fountains to find one that does what you want. You’ll need to find one that shoots out the right colors and sparks and one that lasts long enough.

Fountain Photo Tips

In general, you will probably be good if you buy a decently expensive fountain. The more expensive, the longer it will last and the better sparks and color you’ll get. Besides that, make sure to have a flat surface and keep some distance between the couple and the fountain. With these, I think you could have the fountains in front or back of the couple, so experimenting with that could be fun.

Experimenting with Wedding Fireworks Photos

I love creating fireworks wedding photos because well, fireworks are fun and the images are so different than what you normally see. These are just a few of the ways you can use fireworks at your wedding. Feel free to think outside of the box. I plan on experimenting and trying things out like long exposures with Roman candles, doing a Grand Entrance with fountains, and something with jumping jacks. No matter what, though, wedding photos with fireworks are a wonderful way to add some pop to your big day.

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