July 4th Photography Tips for Parades and Fireworks

June 29, 2018 3 min read

July 4th Photography Hacks - Movo

The summer season makes for some fantastic photo opportunities. With July 4th just around the corner, many of us will be carrying our cameras to parties, family gathering, and summer trips to preserve all the wonderful memories. This year, we want to help you come away from Independence Day with the most amazing photos that you ever created, no matter if you’re using that smartphone straight out of your pocket, or are breaking out the DSLR camera.

Capturing Moments

It’s not something you usually think about, but most of our photos are posed, lining up the family with a quick “1, 2, 3”, “Smile” or “Say ‘Cheese’!” Often, the more interesting pictures we like to look back on are the spontaneous shots taken in the moment. A few of the special moments that are unique to Independence Day include the annual July 4th Parade and, of course, Fireworks.

With powerful smartphones and digital cameras, it is easy to take good shots. But if you want to take that “money shot” that everyone on Facebook (or Instagram) “wows” about, read on for some helpful tips!

How to Photograph Parades

Night photography alone is a challenging topic, not to speak of the added difficulty from short-lived and fast bursting fireworks. To get you started, we prepared a list of tools to ensure success:

1. Tripod: A sturdy tripod is a must-have for great firework photos. The instinct may be using a fast shutter speed for the crisp look. However, our pro tip is to use a slower shutter speed to capture the spread of the fireworks. Try starting with 1/30th of a second shutter speed.

2. Shutter Trigger (or at least remote release): Shutter trigger is invented for fireworks (or lightning photography). As the name suggested, it activates the shutter when the lighting trigger detects a burst of light. Not only does it help capture the perfect moment, it ensures your camera is completely still.

3. Spare Batteries: Just in case your camera is drained before the finale.

4. Flash: You don’t necessarily need this for the fireworks, but it will be handy in case you want to take some shots of the audience or the surroundings

The most difficult part of firework photography is to know how to frame your shots. You will need to make some decisions first about the location: what’s in the background? Will this be vertical or horizontal? Do you want any people in the frame? Keep in mind that you will want to go early because the perfect spots always fill up quickly.

How To Plan The Frame Of Your Shots?

1. Position yourself to the west. Depending on the firework schedule and the city you are in, the sky may not be completely dark when the show starts. If you know the sky is not going to be dark enough to get the dramatic firework shot, go to the west side of the firework spot, and aim your camera at the east.

2. The finale is always astonishing, but early shots are cleaner. As the show goes on, smoke will appear and fill up the sky. So even though the final minute is often the most spectacular, the early show is better for close-up shots.

3. Use a vertical frame for the full burst. To capture the movement of fireworks, vertical frames are generally better than horizontal ones. You may need some practice shots to know where the highest fireworks will end up in the sky.


The biggest tip we can give you for July 4th is to ENJOY it! We hope you have a great time this summer when trying out these tips. Don’t be shy to share your images with us. We always welcome your comments and any additional tips that you want to add.

July 4th Photography: Tips for Parades and Fireworks