Get farther back or shoot at a wider angle, just as you suggested. The picture I posted was shot at 14mm, otherwise it would have missed the foreground.
@!ex..thanks..yes I am aware of the wide angle (have a 8-15 and 16-35) as an option however I chose the 70-300 for good reason. About 6 inches behind me was a pool. My camera was clearing a 5.5 foot high wrought iron fence via a tripod. Between the fence and the pool is about 10 inches of concrete. This is the 10" walk path around the pool barricaded by the fence so wide angle was not an option. if I shot from the other side of the pool the ugly 3 foot wall with 2.5 foot high fence would have been in every scene. I was at a neighbors BBQ and hauled my gear over there. I was fortunate to get these as my neighbor climbed the fence about 30 minutes prior to cut away at some of the City's oleander brush at my request which was raging at about 5 feet high as well obscuring the view. I believe I've got a good eye (so I've been told) just sometimes the surroundings prohibit the exploitation of the photographer. These were certainly very tight quarters!
Rev, Fair enough, but I would argue that to get truly original/interesting shots a photographer should utilize his surroundings to have the shot tell a story. I mean just look at the various shots of fire works in this gallery so far. Most of them could be interchangeable with the others, because they don't have much of an individual story to tell. I'll use an example; Clouds are very interesting, and can make beautiful subjects for pictures (just like fireworks), but I find it much more compelling if the clouds are a part of a story. I could drive out a bit east (I live in colorado and clouds here are really spectacular, especially out on the plains to the east) and capture a lot of tightly cropped cloud pictures that would be real nice examples of weather photography. In my experience (both from selling commercial, and fine art photography as well as just examining photography and art with a critical eye) I find that simple pictures of clouds won't appeal to the general public. What people want is a story, a context for the cloud. It gives it a reason and context to be menacing, or lovely, or whatever it is, and in doing so, it gives it interest. I know you must have a very good eye, but I would surmise that a shot of the pool you were near or even the people you were around might have really added some human interest and context to your shots. I often think pictures of everyday life add much more to the interest to a shot than the cookie cutter grander of fireworks (or any interchangeable subject matter) shot could ever hope to without.
Along the lines of a parallel between clouds and fireworks that I've already created, I'll give you a concrete example. Here is a picture I took on the roof of my Mom's building. I could have easily just taken a picture of the dark storm clouds rolling in, but instead I took a picture of the context, and in doing so this picture has a story which gives it more power.
Just a few thoughts....