Fourth of July Photography

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In the U.S. we are three days away from our biggest non-religious holiday. It’s a day for picnics, family and neighborhood gatherings, barbeque and fireworks in the evening. I was all ready to write this epic article on photographing fireworks when my friend and partner, Tiffany, beat me to it. When I told her that’s was what I was going to post for today, she laughed. Laughed, mind you. On top of everything else, she’s all excited because another blog plagiarized her article on photographing fireworks. You know you’ve reached the big time when other bloggers like your writing so much that they don’t even bother to write their own, they just copy yours. So back to the grindstone to come up with something else.

When I was growing up the Fourth of July was my favorite holiday other than Christmas. Every year we would travel about 70 miles to a dairy farm owned by some friends. These friends had a family reunion every year on the fourth that included brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends of the family. There would usually be around fifty or sixty people in attendance and much of the day was spent preparing the huge feast that would be served around 5:00 pm. Those memories got me to thinking about how great this weekend will be for photography and I wanted to share some suggestions about what to capture with your camera.


What’s the Fourth of July without watermelon? If you eat it correctly as this young woman is doing, it’s impossible to not get it all over you. Besides, what group of kids can resist spitting the seeds at each other?

A Big Piece

Making Ice Cream by Hand
Hand-cranked homemade ice cream is absolutely required. Modern conveniences (sic) have replaced the old hand-cranked ice cream freezer, but all the work made the ice cream better. You also knew where you ranked in the pecking order of all the kids in attendance. The youngest sat on the freezer as the cream began to get stiff to help keep the freezer from turning. The next level was the privilege of taking turns turning the crank. When you got to add the ice and the rock salt you had almost arrived at the top. The oldest got to pronounce the ice cream ready and “pack” freezer so the ice cream would harden a little more. Yes, there was a little Tom Sawyer going on but it was all part of the fun. Besides, nothing was more memorable than the searing pain that shot through your head when you ate the ice cream too fast.

Fourth of July Parade: Kid Band
Home town parades with bands, floats and kids riding decorated bicycles and tricycles. In small towns across the country, most of the town turns out. Many parades feature such silly things as dads pushing lawn mowers, clowns and local politicians but I guess I’m being redundant.

Fourth of July Parade: Clown Handshake
Fourth of July parades

Fourth of July

Yard games like croquet, horseshoes, badmitten and volleyball abound. Winner gets bragging rights for the next year.

Horseshoe Competition
Masters of the Volleyball court

For some it’s the beach; others trek to city, state and national parks; while others prefer a backyard. Wherever you spend your fourth, it’s a great day to be outside, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

Take your camera and record your favorite things about the occasion including the highlight of the day that doesn’t occur until after dark – fireworks. Fireworks are fun to photograph and it’s possible to capture some truly awesome images.


Photo Credits:

Watermelon by halighalie on Flickr Commons
A Big Piece by dqmountaingirl on Flickr Commons
Making Ice Cream by Hand by madhatrk on Flickr Commons
Fourth of July Parade: Kid Band by chicagoceli on Flickr Commons
Fourth of July Parade: Clown Handshake by chicagoceli on Flickr Commons
Fourth of July Parade by People for Cherry on Flickr Commons
Fourth of July by Fabrico on Flickr Commons
Horseshoe Competition by Susan Sharpless Smith on Flickr Commons
Badmitten by borisvolodnikov on Flickr Commons
Masters of the Volleyball Court by stepol on Flickr Commons
Fireworks by rellim on Flickr Commons

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