Add Mist to Your Photos With One Easy Trick

Creating visually stunning effects in your photography doesn’t have to be expensive. If you haven’t got a studio or your own personal smoke machine, don’t sweat it. Photographer Brooke Shaden lets us in on her secret method for adding mist to photos:

The trick? A bit of elbow grease and a bottle of baby powder go a long way in creating dreamy, misty photographs.

baby powder mist

Squeeze and shake a bottle of baby powder directed behind or in front of your model to create puffs of hazy mist that will capture light.

Shaden captured these images with a 35mm lens, at 1/40 second, f/2.9, ISO 400.


Baby powder can be used to create mist or cloud-like puffs of smoke for dramatic backdrops.

Let the used baby powder fall on a sheet or directly onto a long, billowing skirt attached to the model.

Shake the fabric to create a more full mist effect.


Dramatic mist effects are created by shaking a piece of fabric full of baby powder.

It really is that easy!

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One response to “Add Mist to Your Photos With One Easy Trick”

  1. Ivy Bigbee says:

    I always look forward to and enjoy the exciting articles on I am a professional photographer who appreciates and looks forward to the lively instructional content provided in timely, illustrated stories.
    Regarding the 11/15/14 article on how to create mist by using baby powder, please consider removing it or at least issuing a post-publication statement on the dangers of inhaling particles suspended in air. Not only are there renewed medical warnings for women even being around the substance, researchers are coming out surprisingly strong in light of findings that baby powder is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer.
    Not just for women, though: Everyone should stop and/or never consider using baby powder to create a mist effect. Your illustration shows exactly what shaken baby powder is: fine particulate matter being thoroughly dispersed in the air and spread throughout the room.
    In wishing to call your attention to this article, I am stunned that apparently, no one consulted a physician prior to publishing. My college major was photography, and while I enjoyed the darkroom, being around the chemicals became a huge drawback. Fortunately–or unfortunately for some–the industry has addressed those issues.
    When one also considers how photographers often work with increased sun exposure–especially to the hands and feet– people–myself among them– avoid using sunscreen in order to protect their equipment from various products applied to the skin. Photographers with fair skin are even more at risk for skin cancer.
    To inhale or come into contact with yet another toxin is to be avoided, not to mention avoiding subjecting expensive cameras–whose nooks and crannies are almost microscopic–to the fine substance.

    According to Sam Epstein, MD’s current article, “Talcum Powder, the Hidden Dangers” on Dr. Frank Lipman’s The Voice of Sustainable Wellness,” nearly 16,000 women in the U.S. die from ovarian cancer each year, which means it is the fourth most common fatal cancer in women. By some estimates, one out of five women regularly [uses talcum powder] . . . “[while] awareness of the danger . . . emerged even from the cosmetics industry.”

    In the same article, Dr. Epstein reports that “the president of the industry’s Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, Edward Kavanaugh, conceded in 2002 that talc is toxic” and “can reach the human ovaries. Yet, inexplicably, the article adds, ” talc manufacturers failed to warn women that the product could be dangerous to their health.” (Full article available on

    As I am twice a breast cancer survivor now confronted with skin cancer appearing on my face and arms after decades of location and documentary shooting in the outdoors, no way would I even once be in a room with enough talcum powder to appear as mist. For healthy individuals, common sense dictates the avoidance of any chemicals; perhaps there are filters that give similar effects, should photographers wish to style their shoots to reflect that mood. Does anyone know of such filters or other how-tos to create mist, perhaps in Photoshop?

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