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How to Take Incredible Fireworks Photos Using a Smartphone: 10 Tips

Smartphone photography is a convenient way to get great photos without being weighed down with a heavy and bulky DSLR. You might think you need a professional camera setup to get amazing fireworks shots, but the camera in the palm of your hand is good enough.

By using these smartphone photography tips, you can enjoy any fireworks display and get great photos without dragging a large camera bag along with you. Let’s jump right in.

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1. Balance Your Composition

The basis of a great photo lies mostly in the composition. Fireworks are always pretty and make for nice enough photos, but by experimenting with the principles of composition, you can take a photo from nice to incredible.

Most phones have a setting to switch on a composition grid that helps compose your photos with the rule of thirds. This makes it easier to balance your photos by placing the fireworks slightly off-center.

You could also utilize radial balance for more symmetrical fireworks like pinwheels. Get closer to fill the frame with the circular motion of an individual firework.

2. Scope a Unique Location

Location, like composition, is critical. If you can, scope out the event location early to find unique vantage points. If not, figure out how to include interesting foreground or background elements in your photos.

Finding a location away from the bulk of the crowd is best. Otherwise, you might get lots of distractions in your photos, and you’ll struggle to get unique shots.

Try to get high up, which will offer you a better view than other audience members and allow for unique photos from different angles. Getting up high also minimizes further distractions between your camera and the fireworks themselves.

3. Use a Tripod

Smartphones have next to zero internal stability hardware, and to add to that, when shooting at night, your camera takes in less light which makes it harder to achieve a stable photo. Using a tripod means you don’t have to consider stability when taking fireworks photos on your smartphone because the tripod holds your phone perfectly in place.

Although most tripods are made with DSLRs in mind, you can get plenty of great tripods for smartphones. In a pinch, you could use a selfie stick or rest your phone against a wall or object for stability.

4. Set a Timer

Whether you use a tripod or rest your phone against a wall, setting a timer can be another way to remove shakiness in your fireworks photos. Most phones have timer options of around two seconds and ten seconds. Pressing the shutter with a timer on gives you enough time to hold your phone steady or leave it alone, so it doesn’t shake right as you press the shutter.

For the best way to avoid shakiness, use a timer with a tripod. Selfie sticks often have a built-in shutter release button, although holding a selfie stick may result in a wobbly photo if it’s not resting on something else.


5. Switch On Night Mode

When shooting at night, Night mode holds the shutter open to allow as much light in as possible. Newer smartphone cameras have Night mode built into them, but you’ll have to manually turn it on to use it.

You should use a tripod when using night mode, as you need to keep your phone as still as possible to allow for the extra time the shutter is open.

You can use the Night mode setting to experiment with long exposure when photographing fireworks. Although most phones don’t offer much customization to hold the shutter open, you could capture some cool movement by taking photos just as the fireworks explode or shoot across the sky.

6. Use Portrait Mode

Taking photos of fireworks doesn’t mean the fireworks have to be the star of the show. You can use them as a fancy background while shooting portraits or other subjects.

Turn on Portrait mode and ensure the fireworks will explode somewhere in the distance behind your subject. Portrait mode ensures your subject is sharply focussed, and if the fireworks are far away enough, you can create bokeh effects.

Even if the bokeh doesn’t work, having fireworks in the background will still make for a fantastic portrait.

7. Utilize Zoom

Older smartphones may not have the best digital zoom, but many newer smartphones are built with internal telephoto lenses that allow for high-quality zoom.

Using camera zoom should be a last resort if you cannot physically get closer. But you can zoom with your feet as well as with your camera.

Get as close to the action as you can while remaining safe and in a good location for composition. If you find yourself stuck far away from the fireworks, digital zoom can help remove distractions.

8. Kill the Flash

You shouldn’t need to use flash when photographing fireworks, especially when using your phone, since you can’t control the flash settings.

It’s best to switch off the flash and use Night mode or the ambient lighting cast from the fireworks themselves. Using flash will whitewash any foreground and won’t make a difference in lighting up the sky itself; it will light up any flying creatures or dust in front of your phone though, which will surely ruin your shot.

9. Turn On Live Photo Mode

Not only can fireworks be unpredictable, but they also move fast. Using Live Photo mode helps you capture the motion as well as the seconds just before and after you press the shutter, in case you missed the action.

On an iPhone, you can turn Live Photos into long exposures. Live Photos also make great GIFs for social media that will impress your followers by showing the movement of the explosion.

10. Use Burst Mode

If you struggle to anticipate when a firework will explode, then you might miss a great shot. Using Burst mode, your phone takes multiple photos in quick succession, making it much easier to get the best shot of the fireworks.

You can go back through your Burst photos and select the best ones of the action. It’s an effortless way to increase your chances of taking the perfect fireworks photo.

Take Amazing Fireworks Shots on Your Smartphone

With these tips, you can easily create impactful and incredible fireworks photos from the palm of your hand. No longer do you need to drag a heavy DSLR, constantly change lenses, or figure out which settings are best. All you need is your smartphone and some sure-fire techniques.

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