How We Shot It – Sparklers!

It’s a warm summer’s night. Music pours from the reception hall just up the hill, with the voices of the party-goers inside wafting over the warm summer breeze. The sun is setting across the lake. We’re at the end of a pier, with a light, a camera, a tripod, a lighter, and some sparklers. And the bride and groom of course! We pushed through the clouds of mosquitoes, dancing just to avoid the bites. The bride and groom suffered through at least a few bites themselves, because we asked them to stay as still as possible. But the result of all this? Beautiful!

This is how we shot it, edition 1. I will be posting some of the more interesting/tricky shots that we’ve done here at Couvrette Studio, and giving you the behind-the-scenes look into how we shot it! And here we go:



This image was shot at one of our weddings this summer. The bride had purchased the sparklers in advance, and we really wanted to try this shot to see what we could do. Paul and I went out to the pier earlier than the bride and groom, to do a few test shots and see what we could get. Originally, the bride had requested that we try to write the word “Love” with the sparklers, in cursive. We tried that a few times, and it didn’t show up as well as the sparklers in the above shot.

After playing with a few different shutter speeds and f/-stops, Paul settled on one that worked the best, 10 seconds at f/16. With the shutter being open for a full 10 seconds, it gave us the opportunity to put as many sparkler lines into it as we could. And f/16 ensured that almost the entire frame would be in focus, making it easier to move forward and backward from the camera with the sparklers. We ended up using a full 8 sparklers for this shot, because even 2 or 4 sparklers weren’t showing up properly, and they weren’t giving off enough light, even with the long exposure.

The other trick to this shot was lighting the couple – the sparklers didn’t throw enough light to their faces, and as a result we had to use one hot light aimed at the couple. This helped light them up while we used the sparklers to enhance the rest of the shot.

Lighting all 8 sparklers at once was tricky, but the bride and groom truly had the hardest job in this shot. As I was waving the sparklers, I could see swarms of mosquitoes on their backs and around their heads. I tried to wave the sparklers close enough to them to scare the biting bugs off, but far enough away so they wouldn’t get burned by a flying spark. It was the most mosquitoes that any of the four of us had seen in our lifetimes! We were all running for cover the second the shot was over, hoping not to get too many bites. No amount of Off Deep Woods would have deterred these bloodthirsty vampires. We were relieved when we could get inside the safety of the car again!

All said and done, this shot turned out very well, and the bride and groom absolutely loved it! We would like to try this one again in the future, so we can perfect the process… Maybe when there are less bugs out next time!

Thank you for reading! If you have any comments or questions feel free to fill them out in the comment section below.

To see the full wedding post on the Couvrette Wedding and Portrait blog:

Click here!


2 thoughts on “How We Shot It – Sparklers!

  1. Your blog is amazing! I did a wedding recently and BEGGED them to let me do something like this.. but they really wanted a “sparkler exit” — Everyone was too intoxicated and lit their sparklers too early! I was so bummed! there might have been 4 people out of 70 that actually had their sparklers lit by the time the bride and groom came down. Drunk people + sparklers isn’t a good mix! I love how you gave the advice of using a hot light to illuminate the couple. So clutch.


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