So you want to use smoke bombs at your photoshoot? Awesome, let’s do it!! Smoke bombs add such an amazing, colorful, atmospheric flare to photos— I can totally understand why so many people love em. There’s alot to know before working with smoke bombs though, and often photoshoots have to be planned around the idea of using them. So today I’m sharing some tid-bits of advice I’ve learned through personal experience about successfully using/shooting with smoke bombs:
THEY CAN BE PRICY I kinda get the idea that people think smoke bombs are like sparklers in the way that they only cost a couple bucks for an overwhelming amount of them... Your average high-quality smoke bombs costs about $11-$14 a piece, but shipping is where it gets ya. Since they are considered a pyrotechnic device, they have to be shipped using HAZMAT shipping which can really add up if you're only buying a couple smoke bombs. Shipping of course costs less the more you purchase, but average HAZMAT shipping for a couple smoke bombs is about $25-$30 which means if you're only purchasing a few for your shoot it could be around a $40-$60 additional investment.
WHERE TO USE THEM (AND WHERE NOT TO) I find most people want to use smoke bombs in the woods-- I totally get it, it's insanely dreamy and magical seeing the smoke creep amongst the trees! However, smoke travels really far, so to casual bystanders who have no idea what we are doing, seeing smoke coming out of a forest (especially if it is white or black) can look like a forest fire. That can cause a lot of confusion/chaos and could potentially end in the fire department being called-- we definitely don't want that! So I suggest that if you want to use smoke bombs in the woods, it needs to be at either a private location where the owners are aware of what we are doing, or just somewhere very off the grid (not heavily frequented parks or preserves). Other great places to use them are very large open grassy or concrete areas or bodies of water. **Keep in mind many public places forbid the use of "fireworks" (would also include smoke bombs) so it's just best if you have permission wherever you are using them. The location needs to be largely ventilated, as well as far away from highly flammable areas (especially during the dry seasons).
THE BEST TIME TO BUY THEM Smoke bombs are HUGE during 4th of July and Halloween, which means they are pretty much sold out of all the best colors July-October. If you know you want smokebombs at your shoot, purchase them asap, even if it's 6 months in advance. Don't wait-- because once they're sold out you won't be able to find reputable ones anywhere.
REPUTABLE BRANDS AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT Safety comes first. I've learned my lesson the hard way that not all smoke bombs are created equally. Thankfully no one has ever been hurt, but I've seen smoke bombs pop/explode, shoot sparks, catch on fire, set fire to surrounding debris, and stain clothing. This is not the time for cheap knock-offs. The safety risks just aren't worth it. The most reputable brand of smoke bombs (and only brand I will use or suggest) is Enola Gaye. Their high quality smoke bombs are the safest and most trusted world-wide option I've found. Just remember though, you are still handling pyrotechnics and nothing is ever guaranteed, so safety should always be taken into consideration first.
THEY CAN BE CHALLENGING TO USE Keep in mind smoke bombs only last about 30-60 seconds, so If you only bought a couple smoke bombs, you'll have to be ready to nail the shot in 1-2 minutes. For first time smoke bomb handlers, it can be tricky navigating posing with them and learning how to move so you get those pretty streams of smoke instead of just getting stuck inside a giant cloud. I always suggest bringing a few smoke bombs if it's your first time, so you can get a feel for posing with them. Lastly, if it's windy you can pretty much guarantee the photos won't really work, so opt for a day where the weather is calm and your smoke won't blow away before you even get a chance to shoot.
IF POSSIBLE, OPT FOR ATMOSPHERE AEROSOL I really don't often use smoke bombs at my shoots just because they can be tricky (both safety and execution wise), but I do really love Atmosphere Aerosol and use it very often! It's a totally safe, easy to use haze spray that comes in a can. When used, it highlights rays of light and creates a really dreamy, mysterious look. It's mostly meant for use indoors but I have also used it outside occasionally on days when the weather is calm and it doesn't blow away too fast. Plus, I always keep a can in stock so I can have it readily available free of charge for you to use at your shoot! Of course, in using Atmosphere Aerosol instead of smoke bombs, you miss out on those colorful billowing plumes of smoke that so many people want in their images-- so if you feel like smoke bombs would be a good addition to your shoot, let's chat about it and we'll figure out how to make it work!