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We were able to collaborate with a hard working wedding photographer assistant to bring you some personal advice regarding wedding sparklers! Read his article below:
Wedding photography is one of those fields that is constantly evolving. One could argue it’s because of new equipment, but I would also argue the impact creative wedding photographers have when they decide how to react and approach new products. We love uniting different elements in photography because we love interaction, chemistry, and expression. The moment a new technique or location is discover, we can’t wait to try it. Though I am not a full fledged wedding photographer, I was always taught the importance of exposure (no photography pun intended) to new products and techniques. With about six months as an apprentice, I have been exposed to several tips to capture lovely wedding pictures.
Recently, we took on a project involving wedding sparklers. Like many other wedding photographers, I’ve seen the stunning pictures online; I’ve also read how difficult it can be to photograph sparklers. It definitely isn’t an item you can show up and shoot without any prior planning. From what I can gather, a seasoned photographer can read a few blogs on how to photograph sparklers and easily understand the “know how” and execution. On the other hand, the difficulty lies in the expiration of this product. I personally find comfort knowing I can try different angles with little time constraint when working on typical projects: photo shoots with individuals, pets, and scenery to name a few. Wedding Sparklers on the other hand, do not offer that solace. So my mentor asked me to research sparklers while he asks a few colleagues for technical advice.
From a wedding photographer’s standpoint, I would highly recommend doing a bit of research about sparklers, specifically sparkler quality. From a bride and groom’s perspective, I would definitely trust your wedding photographer’s choice, and here’s why: photographers want their pictures to be as flawless as possible, so the sparkler they choose will be nothing short than best. If you are a bride or groom and already have a company in mind, I would definitely forward the information to your photographer so he/she can take a look.
Different sizes: the size of the sparkler could potentially determine how much a photographer will be able to experiment during the shoot. I did see a few companies offering 40inch sparklers, but almost every other company only sold 36inch sparklers as their largest option. Companies estimate this size to burn anywhere between 3 to 4 minutes. 20inch sparklers are the next option, which reduces the sparkle time by one minute: 2 to 3 minute burn time. 10inch sparklers were the last option, and most companies agree on a 1 minute burn time.
Quality: the second vital factor is quality. Apparently, wedding sparklers are slowly becoming their own category, separating itself from traditional sparklers. The main selling point companies focus on is the wire handle. When compared to traditional sparklers, wedding sparklers are able to produce clear sparkles because of the wire core. Logically, it makes sense; I remember sparklers being made out of wooden handles. As explained by a blog posted by VIP Sparklers, “as the sparkler burns, so does the wooden core, causing excessive smoke with every sparkle.” As photographers, we can only do so much. Ideally, we only want to make a few touch-ups, the basics. If the sparkler produces a lot of smoke, we cannot completely edit it out. A simple search for an exclusive wedding sparkler website will help us tremendously.
Generally speaking, these two things are the most important and most relevant to wedding photographers. On the other hand, there are a few other things to consider such as whether the venue allows sparklers, how you plan on executing your wedding exit (including the sparkler lighting process), and how to get rid of used sparklers. As a photographer, the only additional thing we may really benefit from knowing is the sparkler exit arrangement. As mentioned earlier, the difficulty with sparklers is they're limited time. As much as we enjoy thinking on our feet, sparklers are not the perfect items to do this with. If we could do a full walk through of your wedding exit, we can plan for varying frame shots, lighting and exposure, and smooth transitions to cover the entire wedding exit.
In our recent sparkler project, we asked the bridal party if they could spare a few sparklers for us to test. After explaining we wanted to further prepare, experiment with shutter speed, etc., they were thrilled to hear our dedication to high quality work. We knew the wedding exit was going to take place at night, so we planned our experiments around that time; the venue gave us a rough idea of how much ambient light was going to be available during the actual wedding exit, so we also tried to mimic it during our pilot tests. We lit one sparkler at a time; we immediately noticed how bright each sparkler can be. For night time, it was evident we would need to adjust the shutter speed and aperture to balance the overall exposure, adjust focus, and limit zoom. With the few sparklers we were given, it was enough to get a very good idea of how we would photograph these sparklers. With the usual editing, the pictures turned out fantastic!
To all future newlyweds, if you are considering using send off sparklers, please inform your photographer. It would be very kind to provide your photographer with a few extra sparklers and a walk through of the sparkler exit as well. The more information we have, the more amazing your pictures will be!