It’s that time of year: time to scroll through your social media feeds and see multiple threads of businesses posting stock fireworks photos from the internet. That is until now. With a little bit of planning, a camera or cell phone, a simple tripod, and a touch of luck, photographing fireworks for your holiday social media posts that your customers, friends, and family will adore is easier than you think. The results will be authentic images that your customers will make a personal connection with and can be reused in the future.

Finding the Perfect Location

Location, location, location. The first key to capturing great photos of fireworks for your social media posts takes place during the day. Scout out the perfect locale. It helps if you know the exactly where the pyrotechnicians are setting up the display as knowing where the fireworks are being launched helps you frame the shot. Great photos of pyrotechnics always include foreground elements, be it your products, people, architectural elements, or even natural elements like water make for stunning images and give your scene context. If your building is downtown where the display will take place and can be included in the shot, then that is a real home run.

Connecting your business to “feel good” local celebrations and events can help you make lasting connections with your current and future customers. Once you have scouted the perfect location the next thing to do is to get your camera’s settings dialed in.

Pro Tip: Get a forecast of wind direction at the time of the display to know where to set up your tripod. Smoke can obfuscate an otherwise wonderful set of fireworks photos.

Camera Settings

For a camera’s settings I will give you ranges because, like with everything in photography, your specific gear and environment will determine where your settings end up. When I am shooting fireworks, my camera is already in “M” manual mode and yours should be too. If you are still in “auto” it’s time to take the leap and go “M” but that is for another post.  My shutter setting is at 3-5 seconds. This will give you those beautiful streaks of light that look like an amazing bouquet of light in the sky. I set my ISO to 100-250 to keep the grain low. I set my aperture as high as my lens will go f16-f22. This gives you a wide depth of field that you will need to be sure that the gaggle of sparks from the explosions are tack sharp. Make sure that your lens is in “M” manual focus mode too. What you want to do is to spin it to infinity “∞“ and then back it off just slightly. A couple more things you want to concentrate on is getting to your location early and being ready to shoot.

Pro Tip: Camera Settings

  • Camera Mode: “M” Manual
  • Shutter Speed: 2-5 Seconds
  • ISO Setting: 100-250
  • Aperture: f11-f22 or as high as your lens will go
  • Shut off your flash

If you are using your iPhone, open the camera App. Next tap on the “live photos” icon on the top right to turn this feature on if it is not already. For the best results use a tripod with a phone clamp to hold your phone completely still, but because of the great shake reduction on the iPhones you may be able to handhold your phone and still capture the photo. Get to your spot and take the photo. In fact, take a bunch of photos allowing 2-3 seconds in between taps. Navigate to your photo library to review the photos. Pick one and swipe up on the photo. You will see an “effects” panel. Scroll all the way to the right. There you will see “Long Exposure.” Tap on that selection and if everything was set up correctly and you were completely still you now have an awesome shot of the fireworks that you took yourself on your phone.

Android phones come in many models, so please see your model’s instructions for changing specific settings. In general, you want to use a tripod, long shutter speed, low ISO, and high f-stop to capture great firework images on your phone.

Pro Tip: Phone Camera Settings

  • iPhone Camera Mode: Live Photos
  • Tap flash “off”
  • Use a tripod

There you have it. Photographing fireworks photos is easier than you think. With this quick guide you do not have to be intimidated photographing fireworks for your holiday social media posts. Your followers will appreciate that your business went out of their way to capture the local display, and the best thing of all is that you have taken great images that can be used in the years ahead. Planning content for holiday social media posts can be a challenge. If you are not sure where to start, Chartwell can help. Good luck and happy shooting!

Pro Tip: Add your company’s watermark to any photos that you are posting on social media posts. When followers share your fantastic images, you become the experts and your name gets associated with high quality content.