Photography Tips

At SPECTRA, we love photographers. We want people to come to the festival and feel able to take as many photos as they like and share them with the world, but we need to ask you to do so with consideration for our other visitors and to ensure the site stays safe. With that in mind, we have some top tips and advice on making the most of your visit to Aberdeen’s festival of light.

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Avoid our busiest days or times

If you’re planning to photograph the festival then it might be worth coming on a Thursday or a little later in the evening. Avoiding our busiest times means you have more space to plan your shots and you can get a better view of the installations.

Check the programme in advance and plan

Work out your route before you come and think about the angles you want to shoot. Have a list of shots you want to get during your visit and try to nail them first so you don’t run out of time. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re focused on getting the right exposure.

Take a monopod instead of your tripod

Photography at night requires long exposures and can be tricky without a support for your camera. If you have one, a monopod is much better for busy locations than a full tripod. We won’t turn you away if you have a tripod but security might ask you to move it if it’s a trip hazard. The safety of all our visitors is a priority and tripod legs can be difficult to see in the dark, so please co-operate with any requests our team make.

Wrap up warm

SPECTRA is held in February, in Aberdeen, in Scotland. It might snow. Wear all your warmest clothes, warm boots, a hat and gloves.


Make sure you flip your camera to manual and start experimenting. A light festival is a great chance to play with new ideas, long exposures, adding movement to your shots or just having fun. Try something new and let us know how it turns out!

Share it online and use the hashtag

Make sure you put your photos up online and use the tag #SpectraABDN so we can find it. We’ll share as much as we can over the weekend on our own channels.

Bring some friends

If you’re in a camera club, tell the other members about the festival and maybe organise a club outing. Bring your other photographer friends along too. Spectra is a great social event and there’s lots of restaurants or pubs nearby to meet beforehand or to retire to at the end and compare your images. If you bring a large group it’s worth splitting into smaller groups and heading off to different parts of the festival before meeting up again later, this helps to avoid logjams at popular installations.

Have fun!

Most importantly, have fun! It’s a festival after all and make sure you give yourself a chance to enjoy the installations as well as photographing them. You could even come back on a different day without your camera to see the work differently.