Tips & Tricks To Improve Your 4th of July Photos

tips and tricks to improve your 4th of july photos

The 4th of July is just TWO days away, which means that we are only two days away from millions of people staring into the night sky to catch a glimpse of all the big and beautiful fireworks.

That\'s not all! There will be parades, cook outs, trips to the family cabin and even opportunities for businesses to capture meaningful and memorable photos wherever they are. I wanted to take some time this week to write some tips and tricks you can use while taking photos over the next couple of days as you prepare to celebrate America's freedoms and independence. 

Family Photos:

Whether you're shooting off a DSLR camera or a mobile device, you can capture beautiful photos by using these helpful tips and tricks.

1) Stay in the moment!

Having a 4th of July picnic and see your nieces and nephews playing together on the blanket? COOL! Capture their laughs in the moment rather than trying to stage every single shot. Candid photos have always been my favorite photos.

Baby cousins

2) Use selective focusing.

sun flowers

Make your subject stand out with selective focusing!

Rule of Thumb: The wider your aperture (the lower the number), the greater the bokeh (or depth of field or 'background blur')! You can try the "Portrait" setting on your phone to get this same effect!

*Understand that there is a balance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO [No worries, I'll cover this here shortly in a future blog post].

3) Take advantage of good lighting.

Arizona Summer

You don't always NEED flash! If the sun is shining, then take advantage of it! Heck, you can even shoot directly into the sun if you feel like it! You want the photo to FEEL like summertime, lens flares and all!

Don't be afraid to try something new with your camera. The beauty of DSLRs and smart phones these days is that it costs the same to snap 1 or 30 photos of your dog posing in his patriotic red, white and blue bandana (unless you're using an old school disposable camera..!)

Nighttime Photography: 

Y'ALL, these are the fun ones! You're going to want to grab a tripod for this.



Light up the sky for years to come with your very own fireworks photos! To get the BEST photos, you'll want a tripod; but if you don't have access to one, you can still achieve high-quality shots like the ones pictured above and below.

Step 1) Turn off your flash!

Step 2) Don't rely on Auto Focus - Switch to manual focus to have a better chance at capturing photos right as they burst. Auto Focus tends to make you miss shots in low-light situations!

Step 3) Start Low & Slow: Set your ISO between 100-400 and choose an aperture between f/8 and f/16. Start with a slow shutter speed of around 1/15th of a second and then go from there. You want a lower ISO to help reduce the noise in your photos while your shutter speed can vary based on the type of shot you're wanting to achieve. The more light you let in, the more of your surroundings you're going to capture (like the crowd)!

Step 4) Take time to finally play with the "Bulb" setting on your camera. This is where the shutter speed stays open for as long as your finger is on the release button.


Sparkler Photography:

Bring out the sparklers and grab your tripod, again! These photos are extremely fun to take, but they require a SUPER slow shutter speed and a littleeee bit of practice!

Step 1) Wait until it gets dark [this goes without being said, but I figured I would say it anyways cause' I know y'all are as impatient as I am.]

Step 2) Frame your shot with your camera mounted to the tripod.

Step 3) Set your shutterspeed to AT LEAST 1/2 second with a low aperature and ISO. This can take practice and trial and error to achieve, but you'll get some great shots because of it!

Step 4) Have someone behind the camera or use a remote shutter. If you use a remote you can be the subject in the photo; otherwise, when you're ready just hit the button, step back and relax while your camera does the work.

PSA: If you write letters, make sure you write them BACKWARDS! This part takes the most practice!

sparkler writing


sparkler round two

On The Lake:

What better time to take photos of the lake than during the sweet sweet summertime? Lighting makes all the difference when it comes to setting the mood in a photo. Sunsets and sunrises are just a few of my favorites, but even something as simple as capturing the reflection of trees off the water can be beautiful.


Horses at Sunrise

Last minute tips:

1) Don't fret over the perfect shot and please PLEASE don't force your family to pose for hours on-end when they would much-rather be celebrating their independence (trust me). Live in the moment and shoot for those candid all-natural smiles with a staged photo sprinkled in here and there. Those will be the ones that you cherish the most years down the road.

2) Use a faster shutterspeed to capture moving vehicles (A.K.A. fire trucks in your local parade)

3) If you have the opportunity and some editing experience, shoot in RAW! SO much can be fixed in post-production ESPECIALLY when you shoot in RAW. The files do take up more spacd though so plan accordingly and bring spare SD cards!

4) Don't get so caught up taking pictures that you forget to take part in the action! Set the camera down every once in a while and make sure to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones.

5) HAVE FUN! Be safe and make good choices! I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

Blowing bubbles


Kassie Mullins is N8s resident content expert, specializing in photography, videography and social media management. She also works with clients on web design, blogging and more.

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