sparkler wedding picture at night

How to get sparkler writing photos without a cheesy overlay

How To set up the shot

  • Place camera on a tripod
  • set your camera in rear curtain sync
  • slow your shutter speed all the way down to bulb mode
  • attach a wireless shutter release to your camera
  • attach a OCF controller to your camera
  • put your Flash in your pocket
  • Put the wireless shutter release in your other pocket
  • Set markers on the ground to mark either edge of your frame.
  • place your subject in the frame
  • Pre focus camera on subject then pop into manual focus
  • take a test shot
  • light the sparkler
  • open the shutter with your remote
  • walk into the frame backwards on camera left and start writing
  • keep moving as you write/draw shapes to avoid ghosting with your face
  • exit camera right
  • hand off the sparkler/place in safe spot out of frame
  • pull out ocf point at couple -totally ok to run in to the frame for this
  • close shutter with shutter release
  • Done!

The list of gear for sparkler writing

Wireless Shutter release

OCF Controller with a hot shoe on top for the shutter release atttachement

Any Godox flash will sync with  the listed Godox controller

Find on Amazon


I either grab so-so sparklers from A local fireworks super store, or order the nice low smoke kind that burn a gold tone and look prettier in photos.

Bonus tips:

  • wear a black hooded jacket to minimize ghosting as you move with the sparkler.
  • Bring a video light or even a flashlight to see your camera settings and aid in pre-focusing on the couple.
  • Choose a dark background with consistent lighting -no car lights randomly coming through.

How I got started in Sparkler Writing 

Many of you have asked me “How in the world I did I do that?!”

Well here’s how it started, Pinterest! I saw some of Matt Kennedy’s sparkler photography and I liked it! Then I read this article on F-stoppers by Matt and knew I would have to do this!! I followed Matt’s tips and got out a sharpie and started practicing on paper writing backwards first thing. Then turned it over and held it up to the light to see if I could read it. It was was not pretty. First graders would laugh. I kept writing. The trash filled up. But I kept at it.

When I could read what I’d written I got some long sparklers of different lengths. I knew I’d need something long enough to not burn out before I was finished writing.

Then I grabbed a bike as model that would sit still for me.

My very first word was “Braaapp”.

Now that I had learned to write one word I was ready to give this sparkler writing a try! We did it a the MX track since Braaap was the only word I could write. I was  secretly afraid someone else would want a sparkler photo that night and would ask me to write their name. I really didn’t want to have to tell them Braaap is the only word I know how to write right now.

Fast forward to a few weeks later.

I asked a client what words described their relationship. She said “Unconditional love”. I nearly cried! I almost asked her if she has any one-syllable words. But then I decided to take on the challenge. I was not going to let a five syllable word get the best of me!

Like most things, when you decide you can do it, you can. That fear of failing just needs to be pushed right out of your head and completely ignored.

Too hard to write backwards in cursive?

Try something simple that you can’t screw up by accidentally writing it backwards or spelling it wrong. A heart is it!

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