Conceptual Photography

11 Smoke Bomb Photography Tips for Beginners

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Written By Jon Ross

Have you ever wanted to create unique and interesting photos? If so, then you should consider trying smoke bomb photography! This type of photography is a great way to add some excitement and creativity to your photos.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun to do! In this guide, we will discuss the basics of smoke bomb photography and provide some tips for getting started.

So, if you’re ready to have some fun with your photography, keep reading! Here are 11 tips to help you get the most out of your smoke bomb photos!

11 Smoke Bomb Photography Tips

1. Use Canister Smoke Bombs

For the best results, we recommend using canister smoke bombs. These type of smoke bombs produce a thick and dense smoke that is perfect for photography.

Plus, they are easy to use! These do not require a lighter which is also a lot safer. Anytime a lighter/fire is involved, it always brings risk to starting a fire or burning oneself so it’s always good to avoid lighters when you can.

Most canister smoke bombs could last up to 90 seconds but make sure to read the description of the canister smoke bomb you’re looking into.

When it comes to choosing the best smoke bombs, most photography go with Enola Gaye or Peacock Smoke bombs.

Enola Gaye is a UK company that produces top quality smoke bombs in a variety of colors. The most popular color for photography is the Blue smoke bomb.

Peacock Smoke is a company that makes beautiful colored smoke bombs. They have a large selection of colors to choose from and they also have some unique blends like their Rainbow Pack which comes with different colors. Also, they provide refunds on dud products which is always a plus!

2. Photograph in a Non-Busy Location

We recommend finding a location that is not too busy. This way, you won’t have to worry about people walking into your photos or people being affected by the smoke bombs.

A lot of times, when people see smoke bombs, they want to come over and check it out which can ruin your photo. Or, the smoke could get onto them and they will complain.

Image trying too do a smoke bomb photoshoot in the middle of a busy street? There would be cars, pedestrians, etc. When doing smoke bomb photography, it’s imperative that you think about your surroundings and the setting you choose for the photoshoot.

3. Make Sure Your Location Isn’t Prohibited

Along with our last tip, you’ll want to make sure the location you choose does not prohibit smoke bombs due to fire hazards.

It’s always a good idea to check with your local laws and regulations before using smoke bombs.

If you are unsure, scout the location online to see if you can find any info, and if you cannot then check with your local fire department and let them know that you are a photographer planning a photoshoot.

They will appreciate you checking beforehand to make sure it’s good to go.

4. Avoid Windy Weather

Weather plays a crucial role in any photoshoot, but especially when it comes to smoke bomb photography.

Wind can be a smoke bomb photographer’s worst enemy! If there’s too much wind, then the smoke will disperse and you won’t get that nice, thick smoke in your photos.

Ideally, you want to photograph on a day where there is little to no wind. This way, the smoke will stay in place. And of course, avoid days when there is any rain.

The optimal weather would be a nice cloudy or overcast day — this way the smoke bomb can really be seen in the image. You could photograph with smoke bombs on a sunny day, but I personally believe having that cloudy, moody image adds to the whole aesthetic of smoke bomb photography (giving that smoky, moody look).

smoke bomb photography example
Photo by “Dollar Gill”

5. Practice Before Using the Smoke Bombs

When it’s time to use the smoke bombs, you’ll want to make sure that you, the photographer, and the model are ready to go.

This means dialing in your camera settings before using the smoke bombs such as shutter speed, aperture, and exposure, knowing what poses you want to hit, and what angles you want to capture.

For the model, you’ll want to make sure you teach him/her how to hold the smoke bombs, what to do if the smoke bombs get too hot in his/her hands, and what to do if it has trouble spewing smoke.

I recommend doing a few practice runs with the unlit smoke bombs, practicing the movement, poses, etc.

6. Bring Extra Smoke Bombs

Tying into the last tip, you can do all the preparation you want, but sometimes unforeseen circumstances happen like a smoke bomb doesn’t work, the model accidentally drops them, or you are unable to capture photos that you like.

With that being said, it’s important you bring extra smoke bombs, this way you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture the image you envisioned in your head.

I’ve found that the first couple of smoke bombs usually aren’t the best photos because it’s the first time doing it, but by the third or fourth smoke bombs used, the photographer and the model know what they’re working with and you get into a groove.

7 .Bring Extra Clothes

Smoke bomb canisters that are full of color are usually made with water-soluble materials, however, some are made with sugar and potassium nitrate. You wouldn’t want your model to be wearing a shirt full of smoke residue.

This means you’ll want to notify your client beforehand so they don’t bring their favorite dress to the photoshoot and so they can bring extra clothes.

7. Items on the Set

Along with bringing extra smoke bombs and clothes, you’ll also want to bring some other items on set as well.

For example, a small fire extinguisher is always a good idea to have on hand in case something goes wrong.

You’ll also want to make sure you have lighters or matches to light the smoke bombs with if you are not using a canister smoke bomb with a wire or ring pull.

Also bring a first aid kit and some gloves if you have them. The gloves will protect your hands from the heat when lighting the smoke bombs and also from getting any color on your skin.

It’s also a good idea to bring a metal bucket or container of sorts to put the used smoke bombs in until you are able to dispose of them.

8. Choose Your Colors Carefully

When buying smoke bombs, make sure to choose your colors carefully!

For example, blue and purple look great together, but green and pink might not be the best color combination.

The colors you choose will also depend on what message or feeling you are trying to convey with your photos.

For example, if you want your photos to have a happy and bright feel to them, then choosing yellow and orange smoke bombs would be a good idea. But if you wanted your photos to have a more moody and dark feel, then choosing black smoke bombs would be the way to go.

black smoke bomb photography
Photo by James Adams

9. Watch the Face

When photographing with smoke bombs, it’s easy for the smoke to cover your subject’s face. Now unless this is the look you are going for, you’ll want to practice with your model how to move the smoke bombs to avoid covering their face.

Plus, if the smoke gets in their eyes or mouth it’s not the most pleasant and it could ruin the photoshoot for the subject.

10. Use a Wide-Angle Lens

I highly recommend using a wide-angle lens when photographing with smoke bombs. This way, you can get close to the action and still capture the entire scene without the smoke obscuring your subject’s face.

One of my favorite lenses to use for this type of photography is the 16-35mm lens. This gives you a ton of versatility and allows you to capture some amazing images!

11. Shoot in Manual Mode

When photographing with smoke bombs, you’ll want to have complete control over your camera settings. This means shooting in manual mode.

You’ll want to experiment with different settings, based on the time of day and weather conditions.

From there, you can play around with the shutter speed to capture different effects. Slower shutter speeds will result in more blur while faster shutter speeds will freeze the action.

I prefer photographing with a faster shutter speed to capture that freeze-frame look on the smoke. I’ve seen great blurry photos with smoke being used, however. It’s all about the look you are going for.

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Smoke Bomb Photography FAQ

Do Smoke Bombs Leave a Mess?

Smoke bombs can leave a mess if they are not used properly. It is important to use smoke bombs in an open area where there is little to no wind so that the smoke does not blow into someone’s face or into a building. Smoke bombs can also leave a mess on clothing, so it is important to wear clothes that you do not mind getting dirty.

What is the Best Time of Day to Use Smoke Bombs?

The best time of day to use smoke bombs is early in the morning or late at night when there is little to no wind. This will help to ensure that the smoke does not blow into someone’s face or into a building.

Are Photography Smoke Bombs Toxic?

Most smoke bombs are not toxic, however, it is important to read the label of the smoke bomb before using it to make sure that it is safe.