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The Best Smoke Bomb for Photos (and Tips for Using It)


Over the past couple of years, smoke bombs have become a popular photography accessory that adds a colorful new twist to portraits. They are being used for street portraiture, gender reveals, engagement shoots, and so much more. We found the best smoke bomb for photography usage and in this 6.5-minute video and article, we are going to give you 5 tips on how to use them safely and creatively.

After doing some research we concluded that the Enola Gaye WP40 Smoke Grenade is the longest lasting and safest smoke bomb to use for photography. It’s a wire pull smoke bomb that comes in multiple colors and claims to last approximately 90 seconds and will run you $11 for a single grenade.

Tip #1: Safety First

Understand that this is essentially fire in a stick and that it’s going to spray sparks and get hot. It is highly advised that you do not use this around anything that is flammable so stay clear of dry brush or nature. It’s also recommended not to use these indoors or in public spaces.

Tip #2: Set Up Your Shot First

Although Enola Gaye has rated these smoke bombs to last 90 seconds, we found after testing about 20 of them that they last anywhere from 70-80 seconds. That means you want to set up your lighting, composition, pose, and everything else ready to go before you pull the cable.

Tip #3: Things Can Get Messy

When the smoke is coming out there is a lot of powder that comes along with it. If there is any wind or the smoke bomb is angled back towards the body, there is the potential it can stain light colored clothing.

Tip #4: Pulling the Ring

Angle the smoke bomb away from the body and grip it towards the bottom 1/3 of the column. As we mentioned above, there will be some initial sparks flying so hold it away from the body for a couple of seconds and then use as needed.

Tip #5: Remember the Delay

Once the cable is pulled, you’ll have to wait 5-10 seconds before you have usable smoke that will fill the frame. We recommend having an assistant with you to help pull the cable, especially if you firing off multiple smoke bombs.

Bonus Tip: Instruct The Subject TO Move Freely

Once the smoke bomb is lit, if a lot of smoke goes into your subject’s face it can cause them to tear up and it doesn’t necessarily smell good. Instruct them that they can move around and move the smoke bombs as well to avoid having the smoke blow into their eyes/face.

About the author: Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer based in Southern California and the co-founder of SLR Lounge. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Jirsa’s work here. This article was also published here.