Teenaged boys- notoriously, the toughest group of humans to photograph. I have two of my own, however, so I have some experience with the amount of bribing and threatening the precedes a typical photoshoot. “It’ll just be half an hour and then you can have some screen time when you get home.” “I was in labor with you for 19 hours, the least you can do is smile for some pictures for me.”

I may have the solution to all of the stress and potentially make even the grumpiest teen look forward to getting their picture taken. Smoke Bombs! These pyrotechnic devices emit colored smoke and can be set down or waved around the subject for different effects. Older teenagers can hold them, as they burn cool. Younger ones can walk around ones placed on the ground near them. Add some dramatic lighting and you have one seriously epic picture. They might even want to throw their photo up on “The “Gram”.

We learned some things during this session. First, there can be little to no wind for these to be successful. If there’s any wind, the smoke drifts off instead of settling in behind the subject. Also, you only get 15-30 seconds of smoke depending on the size of the smoke bomb you purchase. My advice, set up your lighting, your subjects, and do several test shots with lighting and their poses before pulling the pin. Also, don’t do it near people. At all. I tried to do it in my backyard and the smoke overtook most of my side of the street. Ooops. We did some in the park too and it worked out much better.

Whenever you are working with any device that has an ignitor, always be safe. I had a bucket of water on standby and we put the spent smoke bombs in the water when they were done. If your subject is going to be holding the device, a glove is recommended in case it does happen to get warm while they are holding it. I also let them know that they could drop it at any time if they didn’t feel comfortable holding it. The smoke smells and if you get too much in your face, it can sting your eyes, so make sure you allow enough room to allow your subject to take a few steps forward out of the smoke. Some of the colors stain hands too, so the glove is helpful in keeping that from happening.

Overall, I’d say the kids enjoyed playing with the colored smoke. I know I had fun trying it out. This was my first attempt at anything like this. I have lots of ideas for the next time I attempt it.


To book your smokey session, email me.