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Feature Image by: Wes Baker photography

10 Photography Tips to Take Stunning Images of Vivid Sydney

The annual Vivid Festival is back for 2022! Vivid Sydney has become one of Australia’s best winter attractions. Transforming the Harbour City into an illuminating fusion of creativity, innovation and technology, Vivid Sydney is a guaranteed paradise for photographers of all abilities.

We have put together these photography tips which will help you hit the ground running once you arrive at the festival.

1. Keep your camera steady

It’s important to keep your camera still when taking low-light photos. And since most of the action of Vivid Sydney happens after sunset, this is your first consideration. Using a sturdy tripod with a two-second timer—or cable release will help with this. This will be the biggest factor in getting those nice, clean shots.

Image from Colin Baker

2. Use manual mode

You need total control over your camera settings to capture the large dynamic range of Vivid Sydney’s light and music shows. If you’re still finding the confidence to get off auto, below are a few camera settings to get started with when photographing the event.

3. Adjust your aperture

Narrow down your aperture to ensure you have a suitable depth of field to ensure detail is captured throughout the entire frame. Your aperture can be used creatively: a narrow depth of field—somewhere between f/11 and f/22—will accentuate detail throughout your entire frame and help create a starburst effect.

4. Set your shutter speed

As you can imagine, Vivid Sydney's light projections move at the speed of light, so use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and get sharp images. Start with a shutter speed of 1/30th or 1/15th of a second. If you’d like to get creative with blurred photos of the lights and people, try slowing down your shutter speed to 10 seconds or more - but make sure you’ve got your tripod ready to go so you don’t get any shake ruining your photos.

Image from Canon Photographer, Jenn Cooper

5. Tune in your ISO

Keep your ISO nice and low. This will minimise the amount of light entering your camera’s sensor and allows you to slow down your shutter speed without risk of over exposing your images.

Image from Canon Photographer, Jay Collier

6. Consider composition

When composing your photos, remember to allow space for elements surrounding the main subject. Leave plenty of room for the fireworks above the horizon. And if shooting over water, leave space for the reflections. Seeking out key landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, MCA buildings or even some of the historic buildings in the Rocks can add a new feature element to your foreground. If you’re really looking to test yourself creatively bring some friends along who are happy to be your model for the night!

Image from Emma Desira

7. Tame your trigger finger

Many photographers shoot continuously without monitoring the results, which often results in average quality photographs. The beauty of the Vivid Sydney light projections is that they are often played on a loop. If you spend a few moments to watch and get familiar with each scene, you will be able to plan, frame and anticipate each shot with more accuracy.

8. Shoot RAW images

Your camera will likely have the option to shoot images in RAW or jpeg. RAW files will preserve much more of the detail of the images you shoot as it is a much bigger file, which means you have the flexibility to print your image and edit it the way you like. Keep in mind that, as these are much larger files than your standard jpeg image, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of room on your SD card.

9. Let yourself be spontaneous

Ultimately it’s all about having fun and capturing the light shows from your unique perspective. Don’t be afraid to try something different or to play around with a variety of different camera settings. Stay alert so that you’re ready to capture moments of spontaneity, whether it’s something happening in the audience or as part of the show. Don’t be afraid to scope out your own vantage points. Once you’ve determined all the obvious positions, explore the city and find locations and vantage points no-one’s using.

Image from Canon Photographer, Jenn Cooper

10. Get your photos taken early

Vivid Sydney is set to be an explosive event, but although the fireworks will look beautiful in your photographs, they will also cause a lot of smoke. Taking your shots early on ensures you get nice crisp black skies.

For more information on the Vivid Sydney 2022 program go to

Be sure to tag us in the Vivid Sydney photos you capture on our socials:





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