10 Expert Tips for Photographing Fireworks

Fireworks look amazing IRL – but that rarely translates to great photos. Here, Ian Savage, Head of the Jessops Academy, shares his top 10 tips for getting great photos of fireworks

1 Planning
With any successful photograph, advanced planning is key in helping to capture that moment flawlessly. If it’s a public event, make sure you plan ahead by getting there early. Displays over water or impressive landmarks are very photogenic and always popular, so make sure you find your perfect spot with plenty of time.

2 Positioning
Find out where the fireworks will be setting off from so you can get a good vantage point.

3 Get in the mode
Cameras now are developing to help you take better photos without you having to know manual mode settings. So have a look on your scene modes (SCN on your mode dial) to see if it has a firework setting. The camera will take multiple photographs or set the aperture and shutter speed for you, giving you amazing results for you to treasure for ever.

4 Go manual
If you’re using a camera that has manual controls for setting Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, turn your camera’s mode dial to M. This will ensure you can control all of your settings and make any quick adjustments if needed.

5 Use a tripod
Use a tripod to help you take a steady picture without having to touch the shutter button on the camera. Combine your tripod with your camera by either using the self-timer mode or preferably, a shutter release cable if your camera has this function. This setup will help you take beautiful pictures that are fixed and focused.

6 Use Bulb mode
With your camera in M or manual on your mode dial, scroll your shutter speed all the way to its longest speed, this is usually between 15-30 seconds. Take another scroll and you should see B or Bulb. With bulb mode chosen, press down on the camera’s shutter or shutter release cable button which will then open the shutter, allowing it to stay open until you let go. This setting lets you hold open the camera’s shutter for as long as you want. Combining this tip with the 2 tips above is the ideal collaboration in helping you to create stunning images.

7 Focus
Trying to focus your camera on fireworks can be a real chore. One of the best methods to overcome this is to wait until the fireworks have started, and then use the bright lights as your focal point using the camera’s own auto-focus system. Once this is done, switch your camera/lens into manual focus so that your camera doesn’t keep trying to focus for every single picture.

8 Low ISO
Your camera’s ISO should be at its lowest setting – this is usually 100 or 200.

9 Vary your zoom
Zoom in and out for different effects, you can use a wide angle to look at the whole scene including people and buildings, or you can zoom in to isolate the beautiful colourful explosions.

10 Take a torch
Set your camera up while it’s light outside or carry a small torch to see your settings at night. The torch is also useful if you drop things or need to look in your camera bag.

For more on Jessops Academy photography courses see


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