How to Photograph Fireworks

Learning how to photograph fireworks is one of the most frustrating things that we’ve ever tried to learn. We’ve taught ourselves and most of what we now know, we learned by trial and error, or more accurately, experiment, refine and repeat. To get the perfect shot of fireworks requires the patience of a saint and the planning of an engineer. We started photographing fireworks a few years back and we’ve made some pretty dreadful mistakes. We’ve also had some great productive sessions. We’ve put together a few tips to get you started on taking better shots of fireworks and included a short tribute to a great fireworks photographer.






How to Photograph Fireworks: Tips from two dedicated amateurs

  1. Do your research online to see if you can find any published photos of the fireworks event that you are attending. Check out the shots and choose the ones that you like best. Once you have the shot or shots that you like, go to Google Maps and try to determine the location. You can use street view and satellite view to pinpoint the area. Very often you can look at the lay of the land and the geographical characteristics and make an educated guess at the exact location. You can even get some free information on the EXIF information. For example, you can find photos on Flickr of the fireworks taken in previous years that will give you the exposure, the ISO and other settings used in really outstanding photos. In this way, you won’t be totally shooting in the dark (haha, I know). That is how we created some of our best shots ever.
  2. Arrive extremely early to choose your spot or to find the location that you picked out on Google Maps. When you get there early, you can ask the show organizers to help you locate the fireworks staging area. You’ll need to know this exact location so that you can point the camera right at it. Then you will need to estimate how far back to set up and what else to include in the frame of your photographs. This entire process can get complicated and drawn out. It also might require a lot of walking to pick out just the right spot. One good idea is to do this the day before the fireworks show. That way you can take some test shots to see what you like best.
  3. Don’t even try to take a photograph of fireworks without a really steady tripod and a remote shutter release cable. This tip alone will make your photographs 1000 % better.
  4. Claim your spot early and spread out. You are going to choose a premium spot to take your shots. You are going to lay claims to this spot hours before the crowds arrive. By the time the first shot goes off, entire families will move in and let their children bump into your tripod. Other photographers or television crews will come and set up in front of you. I know all of this from experience. It has happened to me.
  5. Bring more than one camera if you can so that you can use one for great landscape shots and another one for great detail shots.

How to Photograph Fireworks: Gallery click to see larger version

[tg_masonry_gallery gallery_id=”5610″ layout=”wide” columns=”2″]


Here’s a list of the photographs shown in the gallery above:

  • Brilliant fireworks display featuring a multicolored Chrysanthemum burst of green, purple, red and hints of blue streamers or trails of sparks.
  • Purple Pyro Photo: Purple Chrysanthemum
  • Boston Massachusetts Fireworks July 4th © e2dan/Shutterstock
  • multicolored Ring Fireworks, in green, red, blue and white
  • multicolored Peony burst of gold, white and purple streamers with white or silver star bursts
  • Fireworks at the park with friends by Adam Baker, see below
  • Red & White or Silver Chrysanthemum
  • Brilliant fuchsia or purple fireworks display featuring a white and fuchsia Chrysanthemum burst of streamers
  • multicolored Chrysanthemum burst of yellow, purple, red, green and blue streamers or trails of sparks
  • Big White Chrysanthemum (with red streak and willow streamers?)
  • Patriotic Pyrotechnics Photo: fireworks display featuring a red, white and blue Chrysanthemum
  • Deep Purple & Gold Chrysanthemum Fireworks Shell

How to Photograph Fireworks: Learning from Masters

When I was learning how to photograph fireworks I found the work of Bob Jagendorf. He’s one of my favorite photographers of all-time. His images of the Macy’s Fireworks blew me away when I first saw them. I never studied with him or met him, but he taught me a lot by simply being open and generous. His photos on Flickr list with all of the EXIF metadata there for everyone to study. Especially relevant for our purposes here are the ISO, exposure, and aperture settings. I suggest that you write down the settings of the photographs that you like the most and try them out for yourself. That is exactly what I did to get the results below.

This is the photograph that we found on Flickr:

Bob Jagendorf - How to Photograph Fireworks

and this is the photograph that we took as our tribute to Bob:

How to Photograph Fireworks Study small

Shown below is another one of Bob’s fireworks photos. Bob passed away in October of 2013. We deeply regret that he has left us. His work will endure forever because it was and is, brilliant and unique.

How to Photograph Fireworks - Bob Jagendorf 2 vertical

Photographing Fireworks: Learn More


See our Other Fireworks Guides:

Northeast Massachusetts Fireworks
Essex, Middlesex & Suffolk County Fireworks
Southeast Massachusetts Fireworks
Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket County Fireworks
Central Massachusetts Fireworks
Worcester County Fireworks
Western Massachusetts Fireworks
Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden & Berkshire County Fireworks


How to Photograph Fireworks: Learn by Experimenting at these Massachusetts Fireworks Shows


July 4, 2018

Massachusetts Fireworks: Unusual Green and yellow

Bellingham Fireworks

Bellingham will celebrate Independence Day with a fireworks display on July 4. The event will be held at Bellingham High School on Blackstone Street at the athletic fields. The fireworks are scheduled to start at about 9:30 pm. The rain date for the event is on July 5. For more information, see the town site.

June 1, 2019

Massachusetts Community Events

Winchester Town Day

Winchester celebrates the arrival of summer with one long day of activities. The fun starts with a pancake breakfast and ends with a fireworks display over Manchester Field. The list of events for this community celebration is very long. Here is a list of some of the events that were scheduled for the day in [...]
Massachusetts Fireworks: Ghost shell with red heart

Dighton Fireworks

The Dighton Lions Club sponsors a Cow Chip Festival every year in early June. Part of that festival is a fireworks display that is held behind the Dighton Town Hall. The fireworks are scheduled to start about 10:00 pm. For more information, see the club's Facebook page.

June 7, 2019

Massachusetts Fireworks: purple and white pyro

Dalton Fireworks

Dalton celebrates the beginning of summer with a carnival and fireworks every year. The carnival and the fireworks begin in early June. The fireworks are scheduled to start about 10:00 pm. In 2018, the carnival ran from June 6-10 and the fireworks were staged on Friday and Saturday, June 8th and 9th. The festivities are [...]

June 8, 2019

Massachusetts Fireworks: Unusual Green and yellow

Foxborough Founders Day

Foxborough celebrates its heritage with Founders Day this year on Saturday, June 8. The event features a parade, a doll carriage parade, a vendor fair, fireworks and much more. The parade kicks off at 10:00 am from Central Street and winds through town until it reaches Booth Playground. The parade features marching bands, floats, antique [...]

June 22, 2019

Massachusetts Fireworks: Gold with scattered diamonds

Hanover Fireworks 2019

Hanover will not be staging a fireworks display in conjunction with Hanover Days this year. The community is working on getting everything ready to bring them back in 2019. The vendor fair and the main stage events are also canceled for this year. Hanover celebrates the fourth in a big way over several days. The [...]

July 3, 2019

Massachusetts Fireworks: the show begins

Stoughton Fireworks Cancelled

Stoughton has decided to not have a fireworks show in 2018. The community is working to bring them back soon. Stoughton will celebrate Independence day on Monday, July 3, 2017, with music, a carnival, Rock N Roll Racing, and fireworks. The festivities begin at 5:00 pm and the fireworks are scheduled to start at about [...]

July 4, 2019

Massachusetts Fireworks: Gold with scattered diamonds

North Adams Fireworks

North Adams does not seem to have a fireworks display scheduled for 2018. We looked all over the town site, the Steeplecats site, and others and could not find anything. North Adams will celebrate the Fourth of July with a fireworks display at the Steeplecats Baseball game at Joe Wolf Field. The game should start [...]