hand and sparkler bonfire night photo

Remember, remember… to turn your auto flash off! Bonfire Night is a lovely autumnal UK tradition when we gather round roaring fires, swirl sparklers and watch the sky fill with fabulous fireworks. It’s easy to snap away hoping to capture the joy on camera, but often when you scroll back through the bonfire photos the next day all you’ve got is a camera roll full of blurred lights and dark shadows.

Take bonfire photos that spark memories

Year after year, celebration days and national holidays are the special spaces in our hectic schedules. They’re a lovely opportunity to carve out family time together. Capturing photos is a perfect way to see how your family grows and changes. We all know how precious it is to have photos to share and look back on long after the fireworks have stopped, and the bonfire has died down for another year. Here are some tips for taking bonfire photos you’ll be proud to keep helping you hold on to the memories.

Fireworks night photo

1. Be prepared

There are plenty of how-to guides out there about how to take the best fireworks and bonfire photos – but lots of them concentrate on using a full-on DSLR camera. It’s a nice idea to take your ‘proper camera’ with you, but even if you’ve got all the pro photography kit at home, chances are you’ll end up just grabbing your phone before you head out the door – we all do it these days.

So, if you’ll be relying on your phone to capture the fun of Guy Fawkes Night, give it a fighting chance by prepping your phone in advance.

  • Clear out storage space so you’re not getting a pop-up every five minutes warning you your camera’s about to be full
  • Check out the tips below on changing your phone settings and have a play around with them before the big night. Fiddling around trying to figure it out in a cold, damp, dark field while fireworks explode overhead won’t give you the best chance of capturing those magical memories.

2. Don’t try to do it all

Ain’t that the truth?! This can of course apply to all areas of parenting, but it’s especially true when you’ve got a big event coming up. Whether you’re planning a private family gathering for Bonfire Night or you’ll be attending a bigger organised firework display, you can’t be expected to do all the practical planning, look after your kids and capture fab photos at the same time.

Safety needs to be the first concern around fire, sparklers and fireworks. Especially when it’s dark and busy with lots of people. So, if you want to take photos of the fun, delegate the responsibility for ensuring your kids are safe to another family member or friend. It might work best to take it in turns looking after the kids and taking photos, so you all get to enjoy the full experience.

Boy watching fireworks

3. Get a good spot

Choose somewhere to stand that will give you a good view of the action. At big organised firework displays this might mean showing up a bit earlier than you normally would so you’re not stuck with something obstructing your view.

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4. Find a way to stop the wobble

One of the keys to getting great firework and bonfire photos is keeping your camera as still as possible. This is because in low light levels and when there’s lots of movement, the auto settings will probably try and keep the shutter open longer to capture the photo. Lots of phones have photo stabilising settings that are really useful, but it might be worth investing in a small tripod too.

A Joby GorillaPod or equivalent product – which has flexible legs so you can wrap it round anything static – looks like a good shout for an event where it wouldn’t be practical to take a tripod that needs to stand on a level surface.


5. Change the auto settings

Most of us are so used to snapping away with the camera on our phones that we don’t delve into the settings. But with just a bit of tweaking, you’ll find you can totally transform the look of your precious family photos, so you’re not just capturing the memory, you’re making it the best it can be.

Bonfire Night photos can be really tricky to capture because of the low light levels and quick moving fireworks. Try changing some of these settings to get the best shots:

  • Turn off auto flash – this will help avoid those disappointing photos where you’ve got a bright, detailed shot of the head of the person in front of you and just a dark sky behind!
  • Landscape mode – If you leave the phone on auto, it will search for something static to focus on. In landscape mode, it will take in the whole sky in and not struggle so much to find a focus, so it’ll cope better with fireworks.
  • Fireworks/night mode – some phones have a specific setting for night time or even specifically fireworks. Bonus!
  • Low ISO and long exposure – check if your phone has a ‘pro’ setting or similar. In there, you should be able to set the ISO to 100 or 200 and leave the shutter open for 3 or 4 seconds.
  • Burst mode – This is the setting where your phone takes lots of shots every time you press the button. If you press the button as soon as you hear the firework start shooting up, you’ll get a whole string of photos of the explosion and you can choose the best one.

6. Look for a different perspective

bonfire night sparkler photo

Imagine the great photos you could snap if you turned around and caught the look on everyone’s faces as the fireworks go off. We know Bonfire Night is about more than just the fireworks, so have some fun and see if you can capture the essence of what the celebration means to you and your family. Having a whole range of pictures to save and scroll back through, will make the memories that much fresher when you revisit them.

It might be a line of eager kids swirling their sparklers. Or a huddle of grandparents wrapped up in hats and scarves warming their hands on hot cups of coffee. It might be the glow of the bonfire lighting up giggling faces. Or a moment of stillness as a brother and sister stand side by side watching the fireworks whoosh into the sky.

Experiment with standing some distance away from the crowd, so you can see the silhouettes of your loved ones gathered around the fire. Try taking pictures from down low or up high. Try to take pictures that capture the whole experience – from arriving full of excitement and anticipation to tired little ones being carried back to the car after another wonderful family Guy Fawkes Night.

Family photos are meant for sharing

How many times have you filled your phone with lovely family shots, just to leave them languishing on your SD card?

Sharing your pictures with loved ones doesn’t just spread the love, it can also add to the original memory by seeing and saving everyone’s reactions and comments in one place. See how you can do it effortlessly and securely with Lifecake’s unique private photo storage app.

And to learn more about capturing the best family photos in the first place, take a look at our other posts, 7 tips for taking awesome family photos and The good photography guide.

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