Tips for Using a Fog Machine for Photography / Film

Especially with Halloween coming up, mini fog and smoke machine can be an amazing addition to your photography or video in order to add a sense of atmosphere, mystery, and spookiness to your creations. Adding effects like this can change the feel of your image or video completely and really make it eye-catching and memorable.

Fog machines are commonly used in the entertainment industry for theatre productions, film, and television use. However, you can find mini fog machines for smaller studio use, such as our new Smoke-B Handheld Fog Machine. These can specifically be very handy for things like miniature photography or for product photography of smaller items.

Hallowen Photography Using Fog Machine By EssentialPhoto

Part 1: When to Use a Fog Machine

1. Creating a Spooky Atmosphere

If you're working on a horror or Halloween themed photoshoot or video project, a fog machine can be your best friend. The eerie mist it produces can help set the right mood and add a sense of suspense and mystery to your visuals to replicate that horror-film feel.

2. Enhancing Lighting Effects

When combined with proper lighting techniques, a portable fog machine can enhance the impact of your lighting effects. The mist diffuses the light, creating a soft and ethereal look that adds depth and dimension to your Halloween shots.

Pair with Gelled lighting for an extra cool effect, as the coloured light will reflect off the fog particles to bounce more colour across your shot.

Hallowen Image Taken Using Portable Fog Machine By PixaPro

Jon Segui Photography

3. Adding Depth to Outdoor Shots

In outdoor photography or videography, the use of a portable fog machine can add depth and texture to your shots. The mist creates a sense of distance and can make your visuals more visually interesting and dynamic.

4. Creating Visual Separation

If you want to separate your subject from the background or create a sense of depth in your images, a portable fog machine can be a valuable tool. The mist can help create a visual separation between the subject and the background. It makes your subject stand out more prominently and prevents a flat-looking scene. 

5. Enhancing a Steam or Smoke Effect

Fog Machines can also be very useful for adding to a pre-existing effect such as a steamy coffee shot, or something that would be on fire such as a candle. Sometimes the natural steam or smoke isn't quite enough and won't last long enough, so it may help to use a little bit of a mini fog machine so the effect can be easily picked up on camera.

This can also be handy when replicating a frozen effect or indicating that a product or drink is really cold. These kinds of effects are much easier (and often safer!) to replicate with mini fog machine rather than using real fire or liquid hydrogen for example.

Portable Fog Machine for Photography By PixaPro
Mini Fog and Smoke Machine for Photography
Image Taken Using Fog Machine By PixaPro

Part 2: Tips to Achieve the Best Results

Control the Fog Output

Most fog machines come with adjustable settings to control the output of fog. Adjust the output according to the size of the space and the desired density of fog. Be mindful not to overdo it, as too much fog can obscure the subject.

The Smoke-B Handheld Fog Machine has this option, with settings to change the fog thickness between Fine Mist and Strong Jets depending on your shoot. Different tubes and pressurising nozzles are also supplied with the smoke machine to further control the effect.

Light the Fog

Light the fog, not just the subject! Make sure you're lighting the fog to create some dimension with the smoke effects, especially if the rest of your scene is quite dark. Hard light will work well for this, as the sharp light cuts through the fog.

Hard light can be created by using tools such as Snoots and Spotlights, or by shooting bare-bulb with your flash heads. Ensure you are creating contrast between your fog and your subject.

Use a Dark Background

Fog and smoke shows up better against dark or black backgrounds, as it's often a grey/white colour, meaning that if you use fog against a bright background, you may struggle to see it and get the depth effect you need!

Sport  Photography Using Fog Machine By EssentialPhoto

Safety First!

When using a fog machine, ensure proper ventilation to prevent the fog from becoming too dense. Also, be cautious of any fire hazards, as fog fluid is flammable. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for safe usage.

Mini fog machines may also trigger smoke alarms. Ensure that if you do disable any smoke alarms for a shoot these are ENABLED AGAIN afterwards. If on location or at a studio where this will be a problem, please consult the owners of the space.

Consider the models or any animals in the area or at the shoot too.

Test and Practice

Before using a fog machine for professional photography and videography, take the time to test and practice with it. Familiarize yourself with its operation and experiment with different techniques to understand how it affects your visuals.

The captivating smoke effect it creates will add depth, mood, and visual interest to your visuals, making them more compelling and memorable.


Still after some more advice? Why not contact our team at for some more information on our new fog machine or some appropriate lighting options for your photography or videography.

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