How to write with sparklers: An easy photography tutorial

It’s almost July 4, and you know what that means: Sparkler pics are about to light up your social media feeds! Make yours extra-amazing with help from director Mark Morton, straight from Hallmark’s Union Hill Photography Studio. 

DIY Sparkler Photos |

For a kid growing up in the ’80s the Fourth of July was a time for mischief. I can remember sneaking away and getting in bottle rocket wars or watching an older kid light M-80s, and leaving my ears ringing. These are things kids could never get away with today. For a low-danger-but-high-fun Fourth activity, write with sparklers. It will keep those mischief-seekers interested…and busy!

Things you will need.

  • A group of people.
  • A LOT of sparklers.
  • A camera.
  • A tripod or steady surface. 

DIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos |

Overall Tips:

  • Use one person per letter. (We used four people for “w-i-s-h”). Or use one person to write words in cursive. (See our “love” and “happy” photos.)
  • Have the group face the camera with the sparklers in front of them.
  • Write the letters backwards so the camera sees the words the correct way. If it’s too hard to write the letters backwards, you can always flip the finished image in a photo editor later. 

Advanced Option:

  • Use a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera—make sure the shutter speed can be manually adjusted.
  • Place your camera on a tripod or another stable surface.
  • Set the shutter speed to 3 seconds. If your picture is too bright, increase the shutter speed to 2 seconds. If your picture is too dark, slow the shutter speed to 4 seconds. If you are comfortable changing your camera’s settings, adjust your aperture and ISO as needed.
  • Focus on the sparklers. Have someone light a sparkler in its final position to help focus in the dark.
  • Press the shutter button and count out loud so everyone has the same timing, “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.”
  • The motion to create the letters should start on “one” and end on “three.”

DIY Sparkler Photos |

Easy Option:

  • Download an app for your smart phone that will let you adjust your shutter speed.
    • Slow Shutter Cam Free, FREE
    • Light Painter, $0.99
    • Slow Shutter!, $1.99
    • Magic Shutter, $2.99
  • Follow the instructions above to create your sparkler photos with your smart phone.

Photos property of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Tag us in your sure-to-be-incredible sparkler photos: @Think.Make.Share.



Leave a Comment

  1. 6.30.16 | Reply
    Joseph C Pianta wrote:

    Ah cursive…what’s that a few of your young reader are asking. You might need a link on how to write in cursive too.

  2. 6.30.16 | Reply
    Elizabeth A Thake wrote:

    I really like the sparkle hand writing.

  3. 6.30.16 | Reply
    Pam wrote:

    Happy 4th Framily