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Tips and Tricks for Smoke Bomb Use

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

It's that time of year where pumpkins, candy and the smell of cinnamon take hold. The weather starts to drop, (well it does everywhere else but Florida), and the air has a sense of spook to it.

This year has been my first year doing photography as my full time job! I set out to do mini sessions for each season to make sure there was always something exciting to look forward too. Now I knew that Halloween season had to be special. I wanted to step up just the normal "photos in your costume" tradition.

So I decided to utilize smoke grenades to really step up my images this year and offer my clients something unique! One thing I love to do is find things that people commonly say something like: "Oh I wish I could take photos of/with that!" And make it accessible!

After doing over 20 sessions with these powerful little cylinders, I wanted to share some tips and tricks that I learned. You know, "I made the mistakes so you didn't have too" sort of thing.

First of all- where to get the smoke bombs?? I came across Shutter Bombs on Instagram and did a little more research in to their website and socials. I found out that they are run similar to me, just a one man show! And that man is Jake. When I started to order large quantities of the smoke bombs, he became a little curious. I explained to him my project and he was so excited that he even sent me some bonus smoke bombs! 10/10 recommend ordering from Shutter Bombs!

Quick little run down on how to use the smoke grenades- the specific ones that I used last for 90 seconds. Which might seem super fast, but in reality, there are ways to get over 100 photos in that time frame! The smoke grenades come in pretty much any color you can desire. I chose to get Black, Orange, Purple and Yellow to stick with my halloween/spooky vibe. When you are ready to start the smoke bomb, there is a ring hanging from the top-you pull it 90 degrees from the front- NOT DIRECTLY UP! There will be resistance but that's okay! Pull hard and watch the magic happen!

So let's get in to it!

Here are some tips for the PHOTOGRAPHERs first! Or who ever is behind the camera.

*The most important piece of advice I can give you is be flexible, and ready to adjust a moments notice. The wind can heavily effect the smoke. So even though you might want to shoot with some backlight- the wind might tell you otherwise!

*You get more use of the smoke when it lingers behind the client for a bit, so its best in my opinion to have the clients back facing where the smoke is blowing!

*Turn that shutter speed UP! The more photos you can click the more you can maximize your time with each 90 second smoke bomb. Mine was anywhere from 1/300 to 1/700 give or take depending on the lighting.

*If you can help it, keep your aperture around 3.5 - 5.0, I know I am a sucker for those creamy backgrounds, but you can still achieve those! I found when I put my f-stop lower, the auto focus on my camera struggled between the smoke and the subjects. So in order to keep my subjects clear I had to step it up a bit.

*Make sure you walk your client through what to expect and how to use the smoke grenade BEFORE you pull it. Let them hold it, physically demonstrate different movements and poses. Although these smoke grenades only last 90 seconds, I spent at least 5 to 10 minutes giving them a thorough walk through.

Now for the MODELS and CLIENTS-

*The most important thing for you as the model to understand when using the smoke grenades is they are basically like a firework. The smoke has a smell to it, some people like it, some people don't. Some of my clients also had their eyes water when the smoke became very thick around them.

*The canister can get warm during use, so it's best to hold the canister close to the bottom.

*Once you pull the ring out and the smoke begins- the best posing tip I can give you is to MOVE! Your Photographer is going to be snapping photos super fast, so if you move around the smoke, turn in to different poses and keep moving your face, you will truly add variety to your images and turn 90 seconds into what LOOKS like an hour long session!

*If the smoke gathers up to thick In front of you- walk through it! It will make for an epic shot and honestly I think it makes you feel like a super hero too!

I had so much fun doing these sessions and they were a great success! I am so excited to see how else I can utilize the smoke bombs in future projects. If you decide to try them out, tag @smophotographyllc and @shutterbombs on instagram so we can be sure to check them out, like and share them too!

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