How To Shoot Magical Photographs

How To Shoot Magical Photographs Using Smoke As A Prop?

Smoke photography is essentially shooting still-life where the main subject is surrounded by smoke. Hence, using smoke as the principal item of your photographs adds a layer of mystique to it, and can make it more magical. Furthermore, it tends to make your photograph stand out, as smoke adds an eye-catching cover to an otherwise average photograph.

Smoke is a highly customizable subject because you can use it in several different ways. It gives you the chance to exercise creativity and resourcefulness. Thus, it’s every creative photographer’s true calling.

Making It Magical: Digitally Or Manually

How To Shoot Magical Photographs Using Smoke As A Prop?
How To Shoot Magical Photographs Using Smoke As A Prop?

It’s always an option to digitally manufacture smoke and add it to your photograph in the post-processing stage. However, it’s much more fun to capture your subject live.

Post-processing magic is magic of its own, but it doesn’t feel like magic photography, does it? But feel free to do it if you must. No judgments.

Here is our guide on the basics of adding magical smoke effects to your still-life.  

Setting Your Magical Stage

This is where you need to do a little imagining. First, you need to decide on a theme that will be constant through the photographs you take in this session. Remember that your subject must go well with the smoke. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really be smoke photography. We find that Halloween is spooky and creepy enough to get along famously with smoke.

Now, it’s time to collect the items you want to use. If, for example, the subject is Halloween, you should use pumpkins, scrolls, candles, test-tubes or other kinds of glass containers, aroma or incense sticks, and any other source for the smoke.

Finally, you must pick your background carefully. The background could be an old table with paint marks on it, to signify something on which dark potions have been or are being created. This would go well with the test-tubes we mentioned before. Any kind of practical chemistry measuring equipment would also do well.

Insert Your Smoke

How To Shoot Magical Photographs Using Smoke As A Prop?
How To Shoot Magical Photographs Using Smoke As A Prop?

There are several ways for you to create the smoke needed for your still-life. Well, it’s not completely still since smoke is always moving. But you get the idea. It’s advisable to use incense sticks because they are easy to obtain, and the flow of the smoke is just right.

Furthermore, if you need some more ideas on how to generate your smoke, here are a few. You can try a smoke machine, but these are difficult and expensive to obtain. They would do a great job of creating a lot of smoke, but the smoke tends to cling to the ground rather than rise. Our personal aesthetic sense calls for smoke that is rising in curls and twists.

You could also use a “steam iron” or dry ice. The steam iron is a particularly neat solution, and almost everyone has them. However, you can’t have the actual steam iron as part of the photograph. So, you would have to take the smoke and creatively insert it into your picture. The same goes for dry ice.

Finally, it’s time to take your photographs. Make sure to add special lighting effects, so that the smoke jumps out and looks mystical or magical.


Smoke photography can be highly rewarding for amateur and professional photographs alike. Try different ways of doing it, and see what works.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter