[FRAMED] Sparklers

Friday is upon us and it's time to take a look at another moment that happened this past year for my [FRAMED] series. The moment we're talking about today is about a particularly difficult time we had rounding wedding guests for a send off with sparklers. Lets get to it. It had been a fun day spending time with Cole and Michele through their wedding celebration and the wild barn party that followed. But, as the night rolled on, guests began to slowly filter out until only a small portion of them remained. Michele ran over to me and mentioned that she wanted to do a photo outside with everyone gathered around and holding sparklers. So, I made the announcement and we began moving everyone outside to get one of our last shots of the night.

As the guests exited the barn, we passed out sparklers and gave them strict instructions to wait for the cue before lighting them to ensure we would have them all glowing in unison. At this point, it's important to note that most of the guests had been drinking for the past few hours and were pretty buzzed...several were beyond that. So, as I was giving instructions on how to effectively light the sparklers, a few decided to find their own means and prematurely lit theirs. After seeing a few glowing sparklers, the other guests interpreted this as a "Go" signal and began to light theirs as well. One after another the sparklers burst into life throwing showers of sparks and smoke everywhere.

"Not yet, not yet!" I shouted — but it was too late. All the sparklers were either lit or in the process of being lit. It was very disorganized and not what I had intended at all. But, as I looked in the sparkler bucket, I quickly realized there simply weren't enough left to give it another go...so it was now or never. Smoke filled the air as I looked out over a sea of people and noticed the sparklers were beginning to burn out. Our time was limited.

Thinking quickly, I moved Michele and Cole into position and shouted again, "We don't have much time! Everyone with a lit sparkler, cluster behind the couple. Those of you who are left, grab another sparkler or move out of the way." Fortunately for the couple and I, the guests did listen this time as they quickly gathered around the couple. I instructed Michele and Cole to do a long, slow kiss until the sparklers went out. I spun the dials on my camera for a quick exposure calculation — hoping for the best. "Alright everyone...make some noise!" The crowd happily obliged and began to hoot and holler at the couple as they went in for their kiss.

I took a few steps back to frame the couple and began frantically trying to lock in the focus. We were cutting it close. After a few seconds, the camera found its mark and I fired a quick burst of shots before the sparklers flickered and fizzled out. I quickly checked the LCD to see the result while the guests and newlyweds waited for the word. "We got it!" I shouted after a quick sigh of relief. The couple and their family rushed over to take a look — their faces filled with smiles as they saw the image on the back of the camera.

Sparklers are one of my favorite things to photograph at the end of weddings, but can also present a formidable challenge. Trying to organize everyone and get them all lit at the same time is a tall order, but with enough persistence and some quick direction, the shots can pay off in a big way.

Thanks for reading! Cheers!

Michele and Cole share a kiss at the end of the night surrounded by sparklers

Michele and Cole share a kiss at the end of the night surrounded by sparklers