In a world of proper family photos, glamorous senior pictures and traditional headshots…when a client wants to trash her prom dress with a smoke bomb shoot...it’s BOMB. Smoke bomb photos have become a fad over the last several years, but this was my first experience with them! Neither Whitney nor I knew what to expect, but we had a blast! *no pun intended*
I photographed Whitney's senior pictures in the fall, but once she landed on her school of choice, she wanted a fun college announcement in addition to her senior photos. She's headed to TCU (go frogs), so purple smoke bombs seemed like the perfect way to share her exciting news.
If you're interested in shooting with smoke bombs, here are some tips from what we learned.
10 Tips For BOMB Smoke Bomb Photography
1. Stay away from crowds or groups of people. You need some open space to pull this off!
2. Avoid hot and dry climates. It only takes a spark to start a fire, so use caution and common sense.
3. Avoid windy days! A slight breeze is probably doable, but stillness is preferable.
4. Smoke bombs are little grenades. No matches needed...just pull the ring to ignite! Holding it can get warm, but not too hot.
5. Smoke bombs come in a variety of colors. They can easily stain skin and clothes, so wear something you're okay with getting dirty.
6. The smoke lasts 60-90 seconds. That may not sound like enough time, but it's plenty if you have your settings ready. Get some test shots and your model in place before you let it go!
7. Purchase a few extras in case something doesn’t go as planned. We used 4 smoke bombs in 3 location spots in 2 different outfits.
Okay, so you understand the logistics. But what happens when the smoke bomb goes off?
8. Discuss a plan before you ignite. Who holds the smoke bomb? There are two options! Either have the model or an assistant hold it. We had Whitney hold it and I gave her specific direction as needed.
Even though Whitney looks poised and elegant in these shots, it can be a bit chaotic to navigate looking natural while holding a grenade. It’s a lot for your model to think about, so either give clear and encouraging direction, or consider having an assistant hold the smoke bomb.
9. I found the main key with Whitney holding it was to have her keep it primarily down and away from her face. Having a cloud of smoke in front of a subject’s face may be artistic and ethereal, but not what I was going for. It was important to me for Whitney’s face to still be the focus.
Have your model walk or move around so the smoke is constantly moving. It will accumulate into a cloud if it's held in one spot. The subject will disappear into a cloud of smoke if you're not careful.
10. Have an assistant handy. If your model feels more comfortable hands free, have your assistant circle around the model or wave the smoke bomb up and down out to the side.