Photographing a Colored Powder Fight with Kids

The photography that I enjoy the most is landscape and wildlife, but I never give up the opportunity to do a photo shoot with my nephews. This summer, I wanted to try something fun and creative. The idea of Color Runs and the Holi Festival of Colors have become very popular recently. Because of this, I have seen many blog posts from photographers doing engagement photo shoots using the colored powder but not much at all with kids. Let me tell you about our experience and offer some ideas for you to try.

Because I was working with younger kids (age 2 and 4 years), I started off by showing them some photos and videos of a colored powder fight. This gives the kids fun ideas and helps as you encourage/instruct them to do certain things. It also builds excitement and anticipation of the activity.

First and foremost – make sure you get a “before” picture of the kids in their white shirts and all clean! I love the look of a white t-shirt and jeans for this activity. If the parents are going to get involved I would have them wear the same. It makes for great family photos!


I suggest finding a large field with a natural background of trees and bushes. This makes for much nicer photos than a background of houses, buildings, equipment, etc. If you can plan it near a lake and the kids can go for a swim afterwards, most of your clean up is done for you!

An easy way to start is to let the kids throw the powder up in the air, rather than at one another. They get the feel for it and get a little colored at the same time. 


Make sure the powder you purchase is safe for children and won’t bother their eyes or in case they get it in their mouths. Many of the homemade recipes are made out of cornstarch. The powder I purchased online (a quick Google search will give you countless options of where to purchase) was not harmful to the kids but it doesn’t mean all of them will like it when thrown in their face. An option is to have the kids wear goggles to make sure it doesn’t get in their eyes.



It is fun to include the parents and let them be a part of the photo shoot or have them help manage the distribution of the powder. Plastic containers work well to store the colored powder, a different container for each color. This allows the kids to reach in for a handful or the parents can pour small amounts in their hands.

The kids will naturally start to throw it at one another and begin to show their true colors.



Another good photo op is to have the kids put powder in their hands and blow it at you. Warning: make sure you and your camera are far enough back as the kids naturally tend to come toward you.



Toward the end, we let the kids take what ever was left in the containers and do with it what they wanted. As you can see, the older kids usually make out better in this situation.



It is such a fun activity and allows you to capture the authentic smiles and reactions of the kids. I smiled and laughed out loud the entire time I was post-processing the photos! Pure joy was all over my nephews’ faces (except when you get a large handful of blue powder directly in the face).

As far as clean up goes, we found that while the powder is dry it shakes off fairly easily. So we brushed it off their clothes and out of their hair. Then we brought out the wet wipes to clean up for lunch and it got a little messier. I suggest bringing a change of clothes and towel to sit on in the car for the ride home to the bath tub. 

Photographic details: I used a Canon 40d with an 18-200 mm lens. I found the zoom lens to be very useful to allow me to keep my distance but also get close-ups when necessary. I shot in aperture priority at f/8 with the ISO on automatic. Make sure you have your drive mode set at continuous shooting. In continuous shooting mode the shutter keeps firing for as long as you depress the shutter button. This allows you to capture great sequence shots and not miss a second of the action!


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