Two wedding photo trends have upped the wedding photography stakes big time – they are confetti shots and sparkler tunnel wedding photos.
Both require technique, flair and experience – of the two, sparkler tunnel photos have the most potential to go wrong. Involving light, and dark, couples on the move and only moments to get it right, there is plenty of challenge involved and not everyone can pull them off.
That’s one of the things that makes them so special and they look it too. Amongst the many wedding shots, you can have, sparkler exit photos are about as dramatic as they get.
I love doing them and with the right experience, you can get some incredible photos so let’s take a look at how you can ensure your sparkler tunnel wedding photos are done right.
First of all, we are talking about a large group of people you care about and fire so you’ll need to find a safe place at your venue where we will be able to take the photos safely.
Think through your entire wedding set-up as well as the building in terms of hazardous objects and substances that could catch fire because this is really different to lighting a few sparklers outside on fireworks night.
Lots of people plus fire is dangerous and it only takes one dropped sparkler or a few burning embers for disaster to strike so you really need this to be thought through properly.
Think it through in your head then go to the venue and make sure it works. The photos will need to happen well away from the venue, all décor and any objects, like cars, so really you need a large open space.
For this reason, some venues are more suited to sparkler exit photos than others so take some time to make sure it can be done safely.
Once you’ve planned everything, confirm it with your wedding coordinator/ planner at your wedding venue. Sparkler send-off photos are still a new trend so it is best to figure out how it can be done safely and then confirm it with your venue.
2 When to take them
Although they are called sparkler send-offs or exit photos they have staged photos so they won’t happen at the end of the night because by then you’ll all be sozzled, high on happy vibes and looking a little, shall we say, worse for wear.
The exact time depends on the time of year, where you are and the itinerary for your evening entertainment but basically you need to be at least 30mins after sunset, I prefer photographing a sparkler tunnel just after sunset but in the summer this can be as late as 10.30 pm but leaves you open to more drunk guests to manage, but during the string/autumn this can be from 7.30-8.30 and at that time nearer the beginning of the evening so everyone is still organisable is a lot easier. (although remember it needs to be after Sunset)!
3, Who to include
Again, we are talking about hand-held fireworks and lots of people, so this is a posed shot that needs to involve specific people – not everyone. If you aim for a number of around 70-85 guests to join the fun that will be an ideal number to work with effectively.
4, Keep Hold of the lighters!
You can use ushers/bridesmaids to stand near the exit and give out the sparklers to guests BUT I KEEP HOLD OF ALL THE LIGHTERS!
The reason I hold them back is after a few drinks, people will start to light them straight away, and once one person has started it’s like a domino effect and nothing is organised, hence why I keep hold of them. In my safety talk I do explain that if there aren’t many lighters to go around, once someone has lit their sparkler, you can use that sparkler to light other peoples. This is a quicker way to get everybody lit around the same time, then people at the start burning out before the people at the end.
5, Organising the wedding sparkler tunnel
I’ll take care of this on the day but you should also know how it works so everyone is clear about what they’re doing on the day. I give a safety talk explaining what will happen and the reason behind it, as I nor the couple want to get burnt. I form 2 lines, ie like a guard of honour, but pretty close together, 2-3metres apart with arms stretched out and towards the other side forming an arch,(kids can have theirs going straight up) the closer together the better on this as this will give you your downlight on the couple.
6, The Couple need 2 sparklers each
I make sure the couple have 2 sparklers each, they should form a V shape with them by gripping them and placing their thumb in between the handles so the tips splay apart. The light from the 2 sparklers is what you are going to use to light the couple’s faces.
7, Tell the Couple to go slowly
No matter how many times I tell them to go slowly, the excitement of the sparklers it seems to go out the window. I normally say to couples, whatever you think is slow…..go half as slow. Quite a few times as I’m walking backwards I’m giving couples feedback like, eg bring the sparklers lower as it’s cutting in your face or slow done, even more, try not to look at the camera are a few.
Because it’s almost dark you will be pushing your camera to its limits, and won’t be using a high shutter speed, I normally shoot at a medium to high frame rate as this will help get more chances of getting ones in focus.
8, Link arms
Due to the narrowness of the sparkler tunnel, I ask couples to either hold hands or link arms and then have the sparklers in the opposite hand, at waist height so it lights the couple’s face.
9, Metal bucket for the burnt-out sparklers
If you get to the end of the tunnel, and the couple still has around half left to burn on their sparklers you can get them to turn around and do a final run back through, this just gives you another chance of capturing a killing sparkler tunnel image.
Last of all: Everyone is to put the sparklers in the metal bucket. I’ll make sure that happens with an allocated member of your bridal party and that there are no sparklers left behind. (The venue will thank you for it) With that, everyone will then be free to get sozzled!
10, Tips on the kit you’ll need
- Extra long sparklers: For the sparklers, you’ll need the extra long sparklers that glow orange not the short standard ones because they will burn too quickly or the ones that emit blue light because you need the light to be orange for the shot to work.
Top tip here about sparkler displays. Sparkler displays like confetti displays are a trend. However, if you do put your sparklers on display, don’t let anyone take any for safety reasons. I’ll give them out when we are safely outside and ready to shoot.
- Reliable Lighters: Matches are generally a waste of time. To light the sparklers, lighters or even better gas safety lighters are the only way, make sure they are easy to handle and light the first time – longer ones are less fiddly! You’ll need one lighter shared between two people because the sparklers need to be lit quickly or you won’t get the shot. (But remember, a lit sparkler can light other sparklers)
- Camera choice: For the best type of camera to use for your sparkler tunnel photos, your wedding photographer should have it covered but if I was going to give you a tip, I’d expect them to be using something like a: pro DSLR. or mirrorless camera.
I shoot Sparkler tunnel photographs with a fast prime. If you use a zoom like a 24-70 f/4 or even f/2.8 you are going to be pushing your iso very high around 10,000 or thereabouts.
The camera will need a fast prime of around f/2.2, your photographer will want to use something like an active focus in aperture priority mode with a minimum shutter speed of around 1/125 and auto iso, I use either a 35mm prime or my 55mm but I gauge it on the day.
You can use flash when you photograph a sparkler tunnel but I think it kills the glow of the sparklers, but I have used an LED panel behind the couple to give a backlit glow.
- Buckets to extinguish: Finally, you’ll need a few buckets of sand or water for guests to put the sparklers in once finished.
With all your prep done and you and your wedding photographer perfectly coordinated, you can look forward to receiving killer sparkler wedding tunnel photos post-honeymoon that surpasses your expectations.
Local to the area, I’m a highly experienced Sparkler tunnel wedding photographer. Whether you want to get married in Cornwall or another location – give me a call on: 07854 172143 or send a message and let’s talk about what you have in mind for your wedding.
If you would like to enquire about a Sparkler tunnel wedding photographer and the services I offer please feel free to get in touch. Tell me as many details as possible, I love hearing all about what people have planned for their big day, and also the finer details… how you met and a bit about you both.
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