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Smoke Bomb Portraits – 5 Tips

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Halloween! Looking to do some moody portraits with a little texture? Why not try smoke bomb portraits? They are a popular photography trend that add a colorful new twist to classic portraiture. Here are five tips to help you have a safe and colorful experience.

1. Items to Bring for Smoke Bomb Portraits

  • Smoke Bombs
  • Lighter
  • Water (to extinguish after use)
  • Camera
  • Bucket to Collect Discarded Smoke Bombs

2. Be Smart and Safe

There are a number of places and sites where you can find the smoke bombs. Make sure to read all the warnings and bring water with you to extinguish it for safe disposal. Avoid using these indoors and stay away from dry areas or anything flammable.

3. Time is Short

The smoke bombs typically only last about a minute to a minute and a half, so you’ll need to work fast. The biggest tip here — know your wind and what direction it’s coming from so you are not caught off guard. You don’t want the smoke to blow out of frame from your subject. Take the time to set up your shot and walk your subjects through the different scenarios.

4. Adults Only

Since the smoke bombs are flammable, professionals suggest to not use these around children or animals. Most smoke bomb portrait sessions are used for street portraiture, engagements and weddings. Have the subjects get used to holding them unlit first and show them how to move with it. The smoke bombs do stain, so make sure subjects do not hold it close to their face. Never have the subjects or anyone throw the smoke bombs.

5. Movement

The slower the movement with the smoke bomb, the thicker the clouds. Be purposeful with the movements as they only last seconds and they can be expensive ranging anywhere from $7-$15.

Sites like SLR Lounge and PetaPixel suggest using the Enola Gaye WP40 Smoke Grenade  for the best and longest lasting smoke bombs.

Printmaker Tip: When printing your smoke bomb photos try Printique matte paper to give it a cinematic look or a photo paper like silk to add texture to the hi-lights of the smoke.


pinterest graphic for smoke bomb portraits