The power of color is a fantastic thing in photography.
The use of color powder has grown in popularity during festivals, fun runs, holiday celebrations, and paint powder photography.
More and more professional photographers are starting to add this unique and vibrant element during photo shoots, turning simple outdoor scenes into fun moments sure to bring about authentic smiles.
Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a smartphone dabbler, colored paint powder can turn simple photographs into magical images.
The next time you plan family photos or other photographic opportunities, you can use some of these quick tips to help you add all the colorful goodness of paint powder to your pictures.
I’ve been photographing families for years now and have discovered how much fun adding paint powder to a photo session can be.
I hope my experience and tips help you with your own paint powder photography adventures.
Table of Contents
What is Paint Powder Photography? (And Why You Should Try It!)
Paint powder photography is a way to add bright, vibrant colors to photo sessions using finely ground powder with various pigments to create different shades.
Depending upon the manufacturer, paint powder is made with food-safe ingredients and has an FDA certification.
During the photo session, you can throw the color powder and use it during fun session activities to add bright colors that contrast with a dull backdrop or black background.
When the model throws paint powder during a photo session, it makes the movement and the moment more dynamic and eye-catching, drawing the viewer into the moment.
Other methods used for paint powder photography include “bombing” of subjects, meaning the bright colors are set off like a small, safe firework creating an explosion of color over and around the subject.
(You can also check out our guide to smoke bomb photography for another fun photo project idea.)
How Do You Photograph Powder?
Taking color powder photographs is similar to shooting action shots and requires a fast shutter speed and a zoom lens, which can help you take sharp pictures without sacrificing quality.
To disperse the powder during the photo session, you can have an assistant toss the powder, drop the powder over your subject, or have the model throw it in the air.
Having someone with you to help disperse the color powder can help keep you and your equipment clean. Otherwise, you may stain your clothing or damage the equipment.
To avoid blurry shots and freeze the powder in the air, use a higher shutter speed that is larger than the length of the lens. For example, if you use a 50mm camera lens, the shutter speed shouldn’t be slower than 1/50th of a second.
If you’re shooting paint powder photography in la ow light environment, increase the ISO number on the camera to help compensate for limited natural light.
To also help capture the best color powder photograph, set the camera to “burst mode,” which allows you to take multiple pictures while holding down the shutter button.
- Read more: How to change the shutter speed on a camera
How do you photograph colored powder explosions?
Another fun way to create colored powder photographs is to create small bursts of explosions to disperse the vibrant colors.
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Various devices can aid in the disbursement of the color powder, including mesh-like bags that can be tossed like water balloons and explode upon impact.
Other devices, similar to firecrackers, can pop the explosion, creating a uniform disbursement radiating out from the center where the device was set off.
Photographing colored powder explosions is similar to the above-referenced method of shooting color powder photography using a higher shutter speed and a zoom lens.
How do you take a picture of powdered sugar?
Powder sugar can be used similarly to color powder to add pops of color or a powdery explosion look during a photoshoot.
Here are some tips and steps to help you take a picture of powdered sugar:
- Set up the shot by putting everything in place, and before adding the powdered sugar, take a few test shots to ensure you have the look you want.
- Use a darker contrasting color for the background to help the powdered sugar pop.
- Use colorful props or models to contrast the white powdered sugar.
- Use a tripod to steady the camera, and use a remote shutter (optional) to take several photos as you toss or sprinkle the sugar onto subjects such as brownies, doughnuts, cakes, etc. (A mini mesh strainer or powdered sugar shaker can help make the sugar fall more evenly.)
- Shoot the subject with the sugar from multiple angles, including straight on, from above, or slightly from below.
- A zoom lens can help create sharper images, and a faster shutter speed will freeze any movement created by the powdered sugar.
If you’re photographing cakes and sweets, these food photography tips can also help.
How do you photograph dust particles?
Sometimes, dust can get in the way of capturing a fantastic image during a photo shoot; however, sometimes, capturing all parts of life, including dust, can create fascinating photos.
Creating dust images can be challenging because of the tiny nature of the particles. Still, with some preparation and understanding of the camera settings needed, it can help make some fantastic photographs.
When photographing dust particles, use the camera’s manual mode or macro (for super close images) and use a standard lens with a focal length between 35mm and 70mm.
Using autofocus is not recommended because dust is so tiny that most cameras have trouble focusing on the subject. You can us burst mode to maximise your chances of capturing the particles.
If the location does not have adequate natural light, use a 300-watt halogen light that is as bright as sunlight.
How Do You Make Colored Powder for Photography?
There are several ways to make colored powder photographs, but the easiest method is to make your own with simple ingredients, such as cornstarch, food coloring, and some imagination.
Here are the steps needed to make your colored powder for a photoshoot:
- Wear gloves to prevent staining your hands
- Add about 100 grams of cornstarch into a mixing bowl
- Add 10 to 12 drops of desired food coloring or a combination of colors (add more drops if you want brighter color)
- Mix it properly
- Allow the mixture to dry for a few hours.
When it’s all dry, it’s time to have a go at some DIY colored powder photography in your own backyard or in front of a black background to make it all stand out.
Just remember that colored paint powder can stain clothes, so wear something old.
How Do You Make a Color Explosion?
To make a color explosion for your paint powder photography session, use the above directions to make the paint powder and store it in bags or containers until ready.
Having as much powder as possible is always a good idea, allowing you to take multiple color photography images.
There are no real dangers to creating colorful images with paint powder explosions, so you can use as much powder as you desire.
To disperse the color powder, toss it in the air, drop it, clap with it, jump into it, or kick it. Do whatever you can think of to get the color in the air and put smiles on the models you photograph.