How to: Sparkler Wedding Tutorial

facebook_0107A recent client asked me to capture a "sparkler" shot- you know, the iconic "love" written in sparkler light. Being the overly-self-confident person that I am, I readily agreed that such things were easily possible. ha.

These shots are much more technical than first meets the eye. In case you are, like me, always gung-ho for a new challenge- here's the process. Learn from my mistakes.


Open the shutter, write the word with your sparkler, hop out, flashes pop to freeze couple and shutter closes. Your couple is sharp, and your sparkler effect is magical.

Equipment list: 

-2 off-camera flashes on stands, equipped with camera triggers. I use Photox, as they are extremely reliable and half the price of pocket wizards.

-Tripod. 3 legs. you know the metal spider-looking thingy. Can not free-hand this project.

-20"- 36" sparklers. The little guys just don't work. Don't forget a good lighter.

-Assistant. Not technically equipment, but definitely required :)

Step 1:

Set up your flashes to aim directly at the couple, one on either side, just outside of the frame. 1/2 power is a great place to start.

Step 2:

Set your Camera Flash mode to  "Rear" also known as "rear curtain". Google how to specifically change this on your camera model or consult your manual.

Step 3: 

Set your shutter speed to "bulb" It's near the slowest possible on your shutter dial.

Step 4: 

Set ISO to 200. Less noise the better since the shutter will be open so long.

Step 5: 

Set your focus on the couple. Because it's completely dark outside, we held up the lit sparkler to get focus on them and then moved from there.

Step 6: 

Press and hold-down the shutter, have your assistant start writing or swirling with your sparkler.

Step 7: 

Once finished, hop out of frame, release shutter, camera flashes will go off and your image is captured.


It takes practice to get the writing legible or in the right spot etc. But super fun and well-worth the time! I want to experiment with this concept using other light sources- flash lights, led bulb etc...

Solo Deo Gloria.