Cake Smash Photography
Some trends in photography come and go. Before you even blink, it’s a new hip thing, and then just as quickly, the sizzle goes away. Then there is the cake smash - a trend that is steadily gaining in the list of special moments of a child’s first year that need to be captured. Moments that need an experienced, professional photographer to capture the wide variety of emotions.
Then why is it that cake smash photography isn’t popular? Google’s keyword planner shows 40,000 average monthly searches for "newborn photography", 15,000 for "maternity photography", 5,000 for "birth photography" but only 1,900 for "cake smash photography".
The answer lies in a three letter word: FUD
Now, now, hold your horses. Being one myself, I know we photographers are a crazy bunch! Before your imagination runs wild, let me clarify what FUD means:
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
- Fear - will the cake smash be as exciting as a cute posed newborn session?
- Uncertainty - should I or parents get the cake?
- Doubt - will the baby actually smash the cake, so we can get good pictures?
Let’s smash these one by one. See what I did there. Now that we are over my clever puns, let’s get into it.
What Should I Keep in Mind Regarding the Cake?
- Safety: I am big on baby safety in all my sessions whether newborn or cake smash. A baby may be allergic to wheat, egg, refined sugar among other things. For that reason, I always ask the parents to bring the cake. This also allows them to choose the design and colors.
- Smash Cake Design: I do suggest that parents get a professional cake. The results are much better. I know that the trend is to go large, but we don’t need a three-layer cake. A medium cake gets the same results at a reasonable price. Here are some great smash cake ideas.
- Smash Cake Colors: Pink, white, yellow and light green photograph well, and match with most backdrops. I like orange as well. It is vibrant and makes the photographs pop. Avoid chocolate, red and blue – the first two don’t look good when wet and the last is tough to clean.
- Smash Cake Decorations: Go with whipped or butter cream frosting so it’s easy to dig into. Avoid fondant – it’s tough to break and can be a choking hazard. Sprinkles? Absolutely, if you can get them on the cake without having to modify your design.
Can I Assume the Baby Will Always Dig In?
Follow this trick that has always worked for me. Close your eyes and dream. You have a one-year old sitting in front, who will listen and do exactly what you ask. “Dig in”, you say, and dutifully he or she digs in, smashing the cake in the most photographic manner possible. I am sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. It’s a dream; reality is different.
- Practice: Remember the baby is just one year old, and is often shy of exploring a new texture, shape or taste. Especially when surrounded by adults making funny noises and clapping to egg them on. So, take away the anxiety. I suggest that parents practice at home, before the session, with a cupcake. Icing on top, preferably the same colors, and a similar environment i.e. everyone sits on the floor. This isn’t a foolproof solution but it has given me good results. By the way, a smaller portion may help uncover any allergies not known to parents earlier.
How Do I Make the Cake Smash Session an Experience?
Repeat after me, this is not just a cake smash session! Sincere apologies if this sounds condescending, but know this, I am guilty too. We have to remind folks that this is about an experience. And a cake smash is perhaps the only time where we both create and capture the memories, right?
- Plan a Theme: I ask the parents about favorite toy, book or character. Then we plan a theme around it. Trust me, this makes it easier for the parents as well. Well known characters means known colors - which makes the smash cake design easier, and available accessories easier to find and purchase to add to the setup. Example, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.
Remember, a cake smash session invariably coincides with the first birthday party. Picking out a theme will help parents with planning this significant event. Even before they step into your studio, you will have become good friends of them.
How Do I Setup for the Cake Smash Day?
Getting down to brass tacks. Make a list so it’s easy to plan effectively:
- Cake: Make sure it’s at room temperature.
- Cake Stand: Always looks good, but you will have to very careful. It can fall down and ruin the cake.
- Extra Sprinkles: Trust me, you will need them.
- Spoon: Just in case, to help the baby get started.
- Backdrop: I prefer seamless paper that I roll all the way down so the baby can sit on it too. Yes, you will lose some at the end.
- Siblings: In a different room, preferably. There’s a cake in the room after all, and you can’t blame them for trying.
- Watchful Eye: Remember, babies can move really quickly. Guard the cake and the accessories.
And, all of this brings us to…
The Cake Smash Clean Up Plan
Never start a cake smash photo session without a clean up plan. Here is the list of items I always keep handy.
- In the Studio: I make sure to keep baby wipes, kitchen paper rolls, brush, dust pan and trash bags in my studio at all times.
- Nearby: Ample towels. Especially in the bathroom or powder room. If you don’t have access to either, I suggest a small bathing tub.
- Parents Bring: Extra pair of clothes for all family members attending. Bags to take the dirty clothes home.
Editing Cake Smash Photos
And if you're feeling frustrated when it comes to cake smash photo editing, looking for better results or you just want to save a lot more time when editing newborns, infants and cake smash photos in Photoshop -- you should check out the LUXE Newborn Complete Workflow Photoshop Action Collection. You will love it!
P.S. - If you prefer to edit in Lightroom, we recently released our fabulous Bella Baby Newborn Workflow which includes lots of very useful preset options and newborn brushes - everything you need to edit newborns, infants and cake smash photos in Lightroom!
Well, I hope you found these cake smash tips helpful, and the clouds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt have been cleared away. And a special thanks to the team at PRETTY for providing this photograpy blog to share insights with each other, helping us all.
Do you have any questions or comments about Cake Smash Photography? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)