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Shoot: Using Sparklers

Lesson 21 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Shoot: Using Sparklers

Lesson 21 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

21. Shoot: Using Sparklers

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is using sparklers for engagement photography.


  • What are the benefits of using larger sparklers?
  • How can you create different effects with sparklers by adjusting your camera settings?
  • What poses and compositions work well for sparkler shots?
  • Is it important to match the style of the sparkler shots with the overall mood board of the client?
  • Are clients generally willing to participate in fun and creative shots with sparklers?
  • What are some alternative tools or techniques that can be used to create similar effects without using sparklers?


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Shoot: Using Sparklers

We have our spray bottle, our big one, there it is. Sweet (laughs). (laughter) This is fun. I don't think it's on there tight, do you want to figure that out for a second? It's not getting air in there, it's all coming out. Okay, while he's doing that, we can't do the fog yet. Let's do sparklers, okay. Where are my--oh, are they behind, there we go. (laughs) These are not sparklers, guys, what is this thing? This chintzy little, come on now. This is a sparkler. I like these guys, because they're like $ on Amazon and they last a lot longer, right? Guys, bigger is better, always. If the spray bottle starts working first? Oh, no, we're not going to light them on fire, don't worry. So let's do this, I want to show you all a couple different setups. Let's do one where we just go kind of with the natural light with some sparklers, just to kind of create a cool look, so I'll have you guys stand right there. I'm going to get my settings right before I light my sparkler, so I'm not panickin...

g and lighting things on fire. Go this way, right there, perfect. Great, alive, you people. Love me some cheating. You are a patron saint. (chuckles) I am a patron saint. Kay. Perfect. Let me take a quick little test pop. I don't know if my live view is actually showing me what I wanted to see. I'm gonna get close, Daniel, just so you don't feel like I'm getting weird, kay. Where I want to 1/200th a second I'll take a little quick test pop. And I forgot to turn off the flash. It's all good, I got it from here. I'll just take it off. I'll just take it off. That is how you make someone look awesome. (laughter) Kay, so with these kind of shots, I generally like to have the couple in like close, intimate poses, and again you'll notice that most of the poses we've been doing here have been close and tight because our backgrounds are close and tight, right? So we kinda keep them in those cover shots. So what I want you guys to do is, close against each other. Go into a close pose, and then why don't you put your hand onto his chest, your left hand. There you go, perfect. Not like cupping his breasts, but like more, there you go. Right there, perfect. (laughter) Yeah that's great (chuckles) and then, lean the foreheads into each other. Perfect, and that's gonna be your guys' pose, okay? That's your happy place. Find your happy place. All right. No you don't get to do this. This is my favorite part. Oh, we'll do the spray in a little bit. That lit so quickly. You know how long we're usually. Oh, were we supposed to spray the floor with water? No, no, no, no, no no no, I don't think that's for the floor. We're gonna get all slippery. (laughter) That's a whole nother class. That's a different, different thing. Kay, I take off the hood, so that way I can get this close to the lens, right? Do not burn your lens. That'd be hilarious. Not really, kay, and what we're gonna do is bring it right in front of the lens, and I'm just gonna do a couple quick shots. Where is it? There it is. Is it not on? I gotta turn on a drive, ooh, ooh, so pretty. Okay, perfect. I'm gonna go up a little bit higher toward the top of the frame. (shutter clicks) I love the eyes closed guys. (shutter clicks) How special is this? Looks fantastic. So, what we're doing right now is we're at F2. There and the way that these things are falling across the frame, you just open it up a little bit. So if I wanna get bigger beads of light, this is what we're talking about with our aperture controlling this, right? So the bigger beads are gonna come by opening up, to F1.4. So as it go to 1.4, you're gonna see that those open up more. And if I actually show you guys. So I'm just gonna take a couple shots with a tighter one so you can see. Let's go up to like 400. I'm just gonna bring it into the frame so you can see the little things get smaller. So look at. So this is like 1.4, right? And look at how big those little bouquet effects are. This is at F5, so you see how it shrinks them up. So you control how you want them to be in the frame by just opening or closing. I want it to be open, and I want this to be romantic, and awesome. I'm gonna bring the shutter speed down to 1/80 of a second, and then I'm gonna. So 1/80 of a second, what's gonna happen is I'm now using my shutter and my aperture to control this effect, right? How fast do you think these guys are moving? Pretty quick, right? So if I slow this thing down, don't you think that we might capture some of that movement in the frame? We might get a little bit more. (shutter clicks) Oop, what did I not bring it in close enough? Let me see, there we go. Where is it, there it is. This thing just popped in my hands. That's kinda weird. (shutter clicks) There we go. Kay, we popped several shots, and you're gonna get, the cool thing about these effects that I love, it loaded up the first series, I had it up too high. So if you have it up to high, that's what it's gonna look like. I love these kind of effects. Prisms and sparklers and all these kinda things because they give a sense of randomness to the image, right? Like, isn't that kinda cool to create something that looks different every single time? Like, isn't it cool that I'm holding a sparkler on Creative Live while I'm talking? (laughter) It's freakin awesome. Look at that one, I love that. That's fantastic. You guys like that? Is that cool? Does it deserve a boom, or an amen, or? [Audience Members] Boom, amen, hallelujah. It's not cool enough to ask for it, guys. (laughter) All right, let's put this guy out. I wanted to exercise a bit of common sense with sparklers. Don't take sparklers into like fields, and your like, let's do, and it's like dry in Orange County, and everyone's like sparklers, and then on the news it's like, forest fire next to your home. Some photographer's like, awe, my bad. Okay, so, but we'll use sparklers all the time at the beach. Beaches are great places for it. Safety first, right? Yeah, safety first. I do have a question about using these with your clients. Are people generally willing to do these kinda fun effects. Do you have to have a certain type of client, do you know, do you ask? Or, you know how does that process work once you start getting into the fun stuff. That's a really good question, so, we talked about the mood board, right? Our client service experience is very different from most studios. Most studios have a very defined style, when you go to the studio, it's you're getting this product and that's great. That's totally fantastic. If you're to think about it, it's kind of like we operate have you guys seen like the Tesla custom, Tesla store? We have a product, it is a certain type of car that you can have a bunch of different ways. Does that make sense? So when someone comes in, and they say, oh, we love light and airy. We love that kind of field look or we wanna go to the beach, we wanna do this kinda stuff, and everything has sun flares and blooming skies and it has those kind of very dreamy effects. We'll take the sparklers. Cause doesn't that kind of look like just a really cool sun flare effect? And if we're shooting on the beach, and we have a bunch of flares and we have this incorporated into it, then that's perfect. The problem is that, if every one of your shots is like a modern, edgy kind of shot, and you've got this one like dreamy, romantic shot, it doesn't really. It's a cool shot, it just doesn't fit the mood board of what you're going for over all. So when you go to piece this all together in a book, it doesn't look cohesive within the other images that you took. So when a client wants more modern styles, like if they want, oh, we want to go to the city and have a very modern vibe to it. Like we're going to the galleria, the 49th Street galleria, it's like a kid place and you, (chuckles) the galleria. That was a children's date place. But let's say you're going to some some downtown place, it's very romantic you want it to look like you came out of a concert, we'll do other things. Like we shoot off of little mirrors that create reflections. So there's other effects that basically we bunch into that category of mood board stuff, like reflections and prisming and those kind of things that give things a modern vibe but still create cool effects. Does that make sense? So we kind of group these effects into the mood board that we're creating. Into the type of product that we're creating. So, that way, when a client goes, we're downtown, why do you have sparklers, you're like, well cause it fits your mood board. Oh, another cool thing is if you don't wanna do sparklers, you get a pretty cool similar look from this stuff. So likewise you just kind of bundle this stuff around your hand, and then you kinda bring it up and hold it in front of the frame, and you can kinda create that similar kind of beaded out light effect without lighting stuff on fire. I like sparklers because I'm super in to things that create randomness to my photos. That's why I love free lensing. It's why I love sparklers. It's why I love doing all this kind of stuff because it's stuff that you don't. I feel like every client is getting a unique piece of art, you know? It's not easy to go recreate this kind of stuff, especially because most people don't know how we're doing it. You guys, know the secrets.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work