how to photograph a cake smash 1

How to do a Cake Smash Photoshoot

If you are planning a Cake Smash for your baby then you need to know how to do a Cake Smash photoshoot for the best pics and most fun!

The Cake Smash has become increasingly popular in the last few years. And my social media feed is often full with adorable one-year-olds doing a Cake Smash on their first birthday.

Not only does a Cake Smash make for great photos, but it’s also fun. Plus it’s a real centerpiece of a First Birthday Party.

baby cake smash set up

So how to set up a Cake Smash photoshoot? Well, we decided to ask the experts!

Heather Barrett, a professional photographer from Heather Elizabeth Studios in Cincinnati, is an expert in photographing Cake Smashes. So we asked her to share with us her top tips for setting up a cake smash, and capturing the best images of the event! Here’s what she says…

How should you set up for a Cake Smash Photoshoot?

how to do a smash cake photoshoot

When setting up a cake smash, I always start with a backdrop at least 6 feet wide. I prefer 7 feet, and a white paper floor (this allows for easy clean up). Then I start adding the props. I try to choose props that have complementary colors, tones, and vary in height and texture to create visual interest. The scale is also important when choosing props, it has to make sense with the theme. 

What props/accessories do you need on hand for a Cake Smash?

cake smash first birthday

I use balloon garlands in a lot of my cake smashes. Plus I always have balloon garland tape, glue dots, and hundreds of balloons on hand. I also always wrap my cake smashes up with a warm bubble bath in a clawfoot tub. So I always have bubbles, a bubble machine, a bubble bath, and warm fluffy towels on hand to wrap up the session. I also have tons of different cake stands to fit with the different themes I shoot. 

baby cake smash bath

What is the best way to capture a baby’s attention for Cake Smash photos?

Dog toys, music boxes, and cell phones are some of the best ways to capture a baby’s attention for photos. Sometimes, if there is an older sibling I will ask them to dance behind me or to sing a silly song. But a lot of what I shoot is the baby playing in the cake self-directed capturing them as they are unprompted.

What is the best type of cake to use for a Smash Cake?

smash cake set up

In my experience, the best type of cake to use for a cake smash is a white 6-inch cake. It is still large enough to be decorated beautifully but not so big that it takes over the baby and demands the focus of the image. When deciding the design for your cake, I suggest avoiding an abundant amount of red or black frosting. Those colors tend to not photograph well once they are smeared all over the baby. I work closely with a local bakery who designs each of my cakes to fit the theme and colors I am shooting. This ensures the entire set is cohesive and beautiful. 

What are your favorite themes for a cake smash session?

how to do a cake smash

I have shot hundreds of cake smashes but I am not sure I have a favorite theme. I think my favorite themes are the ones that mean something to the birthday boy/girl. Parents will usually choose a theme because it marks the moment of what their child is into during that particular time in their life. Some parents choose a cake smash theme to coordinate with the theme of the first birthday party. Then they have photos to accent the party decor. Other times, families chose themes with colors that complement their decor so they have gorgeous art to adorn their walls with. It’s important when choosing a theme that you consider how you plan on using the images.

Any other Smash Cake tips or advice?

how to photograph a cake smash

I always suggest to parents prior to the cake smash session to practice. Get a half dozen cupcakes and let your child play in the icing and cake. This way they will get used to the texture. Be prepared to get messy!  At the end of a cake smash, there is icing everywhere including me and the parents.

About Author

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Jane Sheriff is the founder, creative director, party planner and mom of three. She started Darling Celebrations back in 2012 to share easy and beautiful ideas for celebrating the special events in life.

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