Have you ever gazed longingly at the multitude of beautiful smoke bomb photography photos online and wished you could shoot something like that? Stop wishing and get creating! Read on for need to know tips for making the most out of the smoke bomb experience.

smoke bomb photography

Where do you buy colored smoke bombs for photography?

You can’t do smoke bomb photography without the smoke bombs, so where can you buy them? Stores differ based on where you live so do a quick online search for locations near you. Walmart sells many different color smoke bombs. However, in Canada, you’ll have to ship them to your home as Walmart doesn’t have them available in stores. In the USA it might be different. Another great source for smoke bombs for photography is Amazon. There are dozens of retailers that customize their products for gender reveals, and many other retailers with non-gender reveal colors.

Aside from online retailers, you can look for local fireworks manufacturers as there is a good chance they also make smoke bombs. Paintball places might also sell them. Many photographers swear by Enola Gaye smoke bombs for highest quality.

Smoke bomb pricing.

Be prepared to spend $7-15 per bomb depending on which country you live in. Some color smoke bombs may cost more than others. Sometimes the price depends on the manufacturer and the ignition method. Smoke products can also come in a grenade, pellet, and cake form but bombs and grenades are the best for photography.

Smoke bomb photography tips.

Safety first!

This is the most important rule with smoke bomb photography because there are potential hazards surrounding smoke bombs. The riskiest kind of smoke bomb is the one that requires you to light them on fire. You’re best off using these in a paved area far away from dry kindling like grass and trees. Stay away from dry natural areas in the height of summer and early fall when vegetation is driest. Fires can spread very quickly. Many devastating wildfires are unintentionally set by humans. Prepare for the worst case scenario by bringing a bucket of water with you.

Smoke bombs are designed to be safe for use around humans, however, the smoke might cause some throat or eye irritation to sensitive people. Most people are fine around smoke bombs but remind your subjects that they can leave the smoke if they feel affected.

Can’t stop worrying about your upcoming session? Read these tips to banish your anxiety.

Bring extra!

You never know what might happen during your photo session. Your client might not realize how quickly the smoke bomb dissipates, or a stranger might walk into your photos unintentionally. There is a slight chance your smoke bomb might be defective and not spout smoke. When doing smoke bomb photography it is best to bring a couple spares “just in case”. Factor the cost of these smoke bombs into your package costs.

smoke bomb photography

Be prepared!

Smoke bombs don’t last long, so prepare ahead of time with a game plan. Do you know which poses you want your subjects in? It never hurts to do a little research online for pose ideas, especially if you get a little flustered under pressure. Save pose ideas on your phone or on the memory card used during your shoot. This way you can discreetly remind yourself of poses if your mind goes blank during your session.

Part of preparing is making sure you will have the right lighting during your session.

Check the weather!

Wind is a smoke bomb’s worst enemy. A very light breeze should be fine and might accentuate the smoke by blowing it about in slow currents. Anything stronger than a breeze will blow all the smoke away before it has a chance to accumulate around your subject. Heavy downpours also come with fast breezes. Unless you’re in a sheltered area away from the wind, be prepared to postpone your session if the weather isn’t ideal. Inform your client ahead of time of the possibility of a rescheduling due to bad weather to avoid disappointing your client.

Give your client a quick lesson on safety

Begin your session by reminding your client of the dangers surrounding smoke bomb photography. It may be common sense but warn them not to point the smoke bomb at any family members or strangers passing by.

Smoke bombs can get a little hot. If your client is holding one, tell them to drop it on pavement or bare dirt if it feels too hot to hold. You don’t want it to fall on flammable material like dry grass. Don’t throw out your smoke bombs without first dropping it in a bucket of water. This prevents it from setting something else on fire. There is a slight risk of a smoke bomb clogging and bursting under pressure. If your smoke bomb doesn’t spew smoke shortly after ignition, tell your client to set it on the ground and wait a safe distance away until it burns out.

smoke bomb photography

Smoke bombs can stain, so bring a change of clothes!

Colorful smoke bombs are made with water-soluble materials, so they should wash out of clothing, hair, and skin. Warning your clients beforehand will allow them to avoid wearing delicate clothing prone to staining or items that must be dry cleaned.

Check with your fire department and municipality!

There may be areas where smoke bombs have been prohibited from use due to fire hazards, so checking with your local fire department ahead of time is best. Your municipality might require permits to set smoke bombs off, so check ahead of time to avoid breaking bylaws and getting fined.

Faster shutter speeds are a must!

Increase your shutter speed with smoke bombs to capture the whorls, puffs, and details of the smoke. You need to increase your shutter speed in the range of 1/800 – 1/2500. You’ll need to adjust your ISO and aperture to compensate for the fast shutter speed.

Need a refresher on shutter speed? We’ve got you covered.

Watch out for the face.

Careful to avoid too many pictures with smoke in front of your client’s face. While we all love artsy photos, you still want your client to be recognizable in most of the images. Ask your subject to move towards you and away from the cloud of smoke if you’re starting to lose their face. This way you still keep all the lovely colorful smoke in the background.

smoke bomb photography

Have fun and experiment!

There are endless possibilities with smoke bombs: subject standing still with the smoke behind them, subjects holding smoke bombs and moving about, or an assistant running around your subject with the smoke bomb. You can set your smoke bomb off on the ground and see if your subject moving about within the smoke can create cool swirls within the smoke. Be assertive and direct your subject on what to do so they don’t stand still the whole time.

smoke bomb photography

More ways to get the most out of your portrait session here.