How to photograph sparkler wedding exits with off camera lighting

My sparkler wedding exit photography recipe:

  • 1 OCF behind the couple
  • 1 video light for fill

Backlight for seporation of the couple and to illuminate the smoke from the sparklers.

A video light for fill light and quick focusing.

The Lighting placement

I use an 8′ light stand as low a it’ll go and place it in the center of the path. I place one ad200 for backlight on a light stand pointed slightly up with a double blue gel at about 1/8th power.
I use one video light for fill lighting at a 45 degree angle on a boom. I have my assistant outside the line of guests holding sparklers holding a video light on a boom about 10′ ahead of the couple. This does require the assistant to peek between the guests to match the couple’s pace.

Camera settings:

ISO-2500, 1/200 sec, F/2.8

Gear list, What I use and where to get it

Bonus tips

A straight line on a walkway is best for the guests naturally knowing where to line up. Otherwise a good wedding coordinator can help. I like to encourage any camera aware people to stand in the middle of the line along the aisle as they are likely to end up in the background of the best photo.

If there’s time before sparklers get lit I check guests for misc. cluttery items in their hands and encourage them to set those items out of the way for the exit photos.

I tell the couple if the sparklers aren’t out, we will turn around and go back down the walkway again and again until the sparklers are out. This does two things, one I have a second chance to photograph them. And two, this eliminates the guests wandering around with fire on a stick potentially setting something on fire.

With 18-20″ sparklers we have a minute and a half of burn time. If they were all lit at relatively the same time we usually make 3 trips, down the walkway, back to the door and then down the walkway a final time.

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One Comment

  1. Love how, if time permits, you have them walk the exit a time or two. Sometimes people get so busy & rushed with the excitement of the wedding day, that it’s nice to be able to just take in that moment and do it once or twice.

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