It’s the little things that take an ordinary photoshoot and turn it into something that high schoolers will love. One of the things seniors love is when we create some epic senior pictures with smoke bombs! It never fails to make them feel a little extra awesome.
When To Use Smoke Bombs in Senior Pictures
You definitely don’t want to use smoke bombs in every senior photoshoot, even though they are so much fun!
Well, they honestly don’t “fit” every senior or location, so you want to be smart about when you’re going to pull them out on a shoot.
For instance, if you have someone with a very bubbly personality in a manicured nature location, it’s probably not the best idea to let a smoke bomb lose.
But - if you have someone who’s a little more edgy or you’re in the right location, it’s likely a good time to pull out the smoke bombs!
We like to use smoke bombs in “untamed nature” or “grungy urban” settings, as they’ll enhance the mood of the location and also won’t annoy people with the haze or smell (they have a wonderful sulfur/rotten egg odor).
How To Use Smoke Bombs/Grenades During a Photoshoot
Before you pull the fuse, you’re going to want to have a plan of action. Most smoke grenades only last about 25-30 seconds, so you’re going to want to know exactly what’s happening before you release the magic. You can get some that last up to 90 seconds, but even that is a small window of time to shoot.
We actually just led a photowalk at Shutterfest (a huge photo conference in St. Louis) teaching this very subject, so let’s break it down here.
Quick Guidelines/Recommendations for Using Smoke Bombs in Photos Sessions
1) Expose for, and understand, your environment.
First things, first: you need to get to know your environment. Get your exposure set up for the environment you’re in, and maybe even set it a little darker than you normally would if there’s a lot of sun, as it's easy to quickly over-expose a scenario when using smoke bombs. Also - check the direction of the breeze, as the smoke will quickly move that direction and impact your photos.
Plan poses before you start.
Make sure you’re ready with about 3-5 different poses. Practice these together to make sure everyone knows what’s going to happen so you can make the most of your time. We like to use powerful or edgy poses to make sure everything fits the right mood that smoke bombs help create.
Snap those photos quickly.
As soon as you pull the pin, your clock is ticking. Shoot quickly and run through your pre-planned poses to get the most photos possible out of the smoke bomb. Again, you’ll probably only have about 25-30 seconds to get what you need.
Our Favorite Smoke Bombs for Senior Photos
Not all smoke bombs are good for photos - in fact, many generic brands you can get don’t work well at all.
We like to use Enola Gaye smoke grenades from Pixel Connections for a number of reasons!
- They’re non-toxic and have a completely bio-degradable body.
- You don’t need matches - they have a pull ring ignition system to make things easy.
- They use a variety of robust colors in a thick cloud of smoke so you get that epic effect you’re looking for.
Quick Note Of Warning with Smoke Bombs
Please be sure to use smoke bombs responsibly. As you’d expect, these things can put off sparks and some significant heat, which can cause fires in dry conditions. If it has rained recently or you're in a damp environment you should be fine, but when in doubt, err on the side of safety and refrain from using this effect. Also - never use smoke bombs indoors, or any other areas that you’ll regret later.
Atmosphere Aerosol Is A Great Indoor Alternative
If you want to have a haze effect but it’s raining or you want to use a studio setting, a good alternative to smoke bombs is Atmosphere Aerosol. It’s another non-toxic way to create some haze, and pared with some colored/gelled flashes, you can create some really amazing photos together.
Get Other Great Gear Tips In Our Photographer’s Toolkit
As photographers, it’s always our goal to give clients an amazing experience. Utilizing tools like Atmosphere Aerosol or smoke bombs can take your senior pictures to another level. To see other tools we use regularly, check out our Photographer’s Toolkit to quickly step up your game.