How To Shoot Photos Of Fireworks

Jul 4, 2013
Originally published on July 5, 2013 4:47 pm

Spectacular firework displays are the grand finale of big Fourth of July celebrations.

Boston Globe freelance photographer Aram Boghosian will be at Boston’s Charles River Esplanade for tonight’s event and has some tips for how to take great photographs.


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Well, we're all going to be hearing that pretty soon. And I'm guessing, just guessing, that more fireworks photos are going to be taken tonight than ever before, because everyone has a camera on their phone these days. So let's get some pointers from a real photographer, Aram Boghosian, who has photographed many of a Fourth of July in his day. Hi, Aram.


HOBSON: Well, so, OK. Top tip, what do people need to know about taking photos of fireworks to the Fourth of July?

BOGHOSIAN: You got to keep your camera steady, otherwise the photos will be blurry.

HOBSON: How do you suppose to do that? I mean, you might have a tripod, you might not.

BOGHOSIAN: Well, if you're using a tripod, you'll have no problem. But if you're using a smartphone or if you've got a camera with no tripod, you know, prop it against the tree, set it on your knees, anything you can do to keep it steady.

HOBSON: OK. And what about the smoke that comes off of the fireworks? Because I know that I, in my time as a totally amateur photographer of fireworks shows, have taken photos and then the smoke gets in the way, and they don't look like they do to me.

BOGHOSIAN: Absolutely. That's happened to me too. You get the best shots during the beginning of a firework show because by the end, there are so much smoke in the sky. You can barely see the details of the fireworks. So it's really good to get your shots early, essentially, before that smoke fills the sky.

HOBSON: What do you want to do about framing the shot? You know, you want to get the whole sky, because that's what you're seeing, and it's so amazing, but maybe you shouldn't do that.

BOGHOSIAN: Well, yeah. A lot of people, when they take photos of fireworks, they'll zoom right in on the firework itself, but you lose context. I think it's nice to get a little bit wider and show maybe the crowd of people watching fireworks with you or if you get some landmarks in the background, some skylines, anything like that.

HOBSON: Now, a lot of people are not going to be using cameras. They will be using smartphones. So let's talk about that. What are the tips for a smartphone?

BOGHOSIAN: Smartphone, you're going to need to be a bit closer, because you can't do zoom in with a smartphone as many people know. And if you do, it doesn't look that good. And again, you want to hold it steady so that it doesn't get blurry. So you're going to prop it any way you can and keep it from moving while you're taking the photos. And then the other thing to remember is there's a little bit delay after you try to take a photo. So you're going to anticipate the explosion and try to take a picture right at that moment.

HOBSON: Which is not easy.

BOGHOSIAN: No, not easy at all.

HOBSON: What is the best picture you've ever taken of a firework, and what did you do to get it?

BOGHOSIAN: Best photo I've ever taken of a firework, was just in someone's backyard. It was just a little small show. And there were just some kids running around in this backyard field, and I liked it because they were holding sparklers, and ran through the frame as some of the fireworks are going up over their heads in the background. And there were just this great atmosphere to it because the firework illuminated the field and the kids running. And, you know, they were blurry, but it just gave a sense of motion to the picture as well.

What did I do to get it? Just the right place at the right time. I was just hanging out with some friends, and I was trying to get a nice shot of the fireworks, and they just happened to run through. So that was just luck, but I set up the camera on a tripod and took a bunch of pictures in a row and experimented with settings until it started to look just the way I want it. That's the beauty with digital cameras these days.

HOBSON: But it wasn't just about the fireworks? I mean, it's about the setting, and it's about the kids in it as well.

BOGHOSIAN: Yeah. The atmosphere really contributes a lot. I think people forget that when they're shooting fireworks, and they'll just shoot the explosion. But remember, there's a lot of things usually going around fireworks. People gathered and just the setting can be a very helpful tool in a firework photo.

HOBSON: Well, Aram Boghosian, a freelance photographer, have fun shooting tonight, and thanks so much and happy Fourth of July.

BOGHOSIAN: Thank you.


HOBSON: Well, we hope you are enjoying your Fourth of July, and we hope you get some good photos tonight of those fireworks. If you do, send them to us. Just go to


And how can we have left out the most important headline of the day, Jeremy? We have news from Coney Island where I once almost fell off the steeplechase. Sonia Black Widow Thomas weighing in at 100 pounds ate nearly 37 frankfurters in 10 minutes to narrowly win...



YOUNG: ..the women's annual hotdog eating contest.


YOUNG: That means someone ate 36. This is HERE AND NOW from NPR and WBUR Boston. I'm Robin Young.

HOBSON: And I'm Jeremy Hobson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.