Cake smashing photography is a subtype of children photography. Most often, cake smashing is photographing a child with a birthday cake, snapping shots of a cake itself and other birthday accessories. In this article, you will learn how to prepare and make your cake smash session perfect.
Some trends in photography are fleeting. At present, pictures of a baby with a cake are a trend that is rapidly gaining popularity and occupies an important place on the lists of must-take photos during the first year of baby’s life.
A child should feel as comfortable as possible during the shooting process. At first, you need to take several pictures of a child before his/her clothes and everything around gets dirty with a cake.
Take several portrait images from different angles and only then process to cake smashing photo shoot. During shooting in a portrait mode, you can place a birthday boy/girl in a child’s chair or on a colorful carpet, so he/she feels cozy.
To take such images, I recommend using a lens with a focal length of 85mm. NIKON AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is a great option. This lens doesn’t distort facial features and helps a photographer to somehow keep aside.
When doing cake smash photography, don’t forget to spend time on the details that complement the composition. A good idea is to use a support for a cake. Ideally, it should be of discreet colors, because the stand should complement the photo, and attract all the attention.
You can also choose a support of white and creamy shades. You can also ask parents if they have any other accessories that they would like to include in the frame (no more than 1-2 things).
During the smash cake photo session, you may see that a baby simply pokes a cake without interest, or tries it and then doesn’t touch anymore. You should give your little model some time so that he/she can examine the cake, and then, if nothing changes, ask parents to help their child.
If, at the end of the shooting, the child also doesn’t show any interest to the cake, ask the parents if they would like to “spoil” it a little for the photo.
These pictures will become the highlights of a family photo album, so no wonder, parents want them to look their best. That’s why, you need to be very mindful of the baby’s outfit.
Creamy and pink colors are ideal for cake smash photos of a girl. Little gentlemen can try on sky-blue shirts with trousers or shorts of a neutral color. You can also complement the image with a festive cap.
While experimenting with cake smash photo ideas, you need to move and pose a baby all the time, and he/she may react to such actions absolutely in a different manner. Actually, some kids laugh, while others become shy and start crying.
Therefore, you need to be prepared for any baby’s emotions. Even if a child behaves capriciously and cries, you’d better take several shots before parents calm him/her down. Such pictures can also complement a family photo album.
When choosing a birthday cake for a baby, remind parents that it must be very soft and manageable so that the little hands can break a piece off. The best variant is vanilla biscuits. They are quite soft and crumbly.
Also, choosing the color of the glaze, try to avoid red and brown colors, as they will look out of place, especially brown. If you want a cake with some patterns, select something as simple as possible so that it doesn’t attract too much attention.
Some children at the very beginning of cake smash photo shoot cannot understand what they are expected to do. In this case, you can give a baby some more time, or you can just direct him/her a little to the right actions, and parents can help a child by showing how he/she is supposed to behave.
If the baby still remains indifferent and doesn’t do anything, give him/her some sweets, this will cheer a baby up and make him/her feel relaxed.
Before smash cake sessions, make sure that a baby is not allergic to icing and other components of the cake and treats that he/she will taste. Let him/her eat a tiny piece and wait a bit.
If something goes wrong, you will see it immediately and a child will refuse to eat more. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk spoiling not only the cake smash shoot, but also the whole birthday party.
Every photographer has an individual fee for a photo session. Typically, it’s $150 for a shooting. This sum includes the cost of a 1-hour photo session and a decorated cake that is prepared according to the theme of the celebration and the color palette chosen by parents in advance.
You can also go for a more expensive photoshoot – about $500. For this money, your client may get a complete thematic set, a cake and an individual outfit.
Select the aperture priority mode. Taking smash the cake photos in this mode, you can easily control the depth of field, which is very important in photography, especially in a portraiture genre.
Also set the aperture to f5.6. Thanks to this, the cake smash backdrop will be blurred, and the child will be in the spotlight.
Select the ISO value depending on the place where you take pictures (indoors or outdoors) and the amount of lighting you have. Set the ISO to 200 (if the lighting is good, you can reduce the value). If the lighting is insufficient and the shutter speed is long, you can compensate this with increased ISO. But don’t go overboard; choose the level that isn’t higher than 800, otherwise, you will get a lot of noise in images.
Set the shutter speed to 1/200 if the child isn’t sitting still. If he/she is running, you can go as high as 1/500.
Since a cake is the second important element of cake smashing photography, you need to capture it separately. Do it before a baby smears it on the table.
You’d better take close-up images of a cake from different angles, so even the smallest detail is visible. Canon EF 100mm f / 2.8 Macro USM perfectly suits this purpose. This lens produces minimal distortion, saves all the proportions of the subject and its location in the space.
However, if you often take pictures from above, this isn’t your option. This is the case when there are several plates making up a composition. Another wonderful alternative is Sony 90mm f / 2.8 Macro G OSS. This lens allows you to shoot at a maximum scale of 1:1.
Light is the basis of any quality photo. Thanks to sufficient lighting, we can see volumes and shapes of objects in pictures. To practice cake smash photography at home, you can use constant LED light. My personal favorite is YONGNUO YN-160II.
This light source can perfectly cope with the cake smashing photography tasks and produce enough lighting for home shooting. If you take pictures in the studio, you need more sources to adjust and shape lighting. I made a small diagram for you to better understand the idea. In this pattern, I use Neewer 5 in 1 Portable Multi reflector and 2 constant light sources Godox-Pioneer QL-1000.
This lighting pattern results in distinct light and shadow interplay. Soft shadows will gently highlight the volume. Following this patter, you can get really sharp images of children, who are rarely sit in one place for a long time.
One of the handiest cake smash photography tips is to set a faster shutter speed, as small children are very active, and you need to be sure that you can capture the right moment. If you are shooting in a manual mode, make sure the shutter speed is higher than 1/200.
A lower value will result in blurry shots. Take pictures from different distances and angles so that you have as many images as possible, and will be able to choose successful shots.
Constant bright flashes can annoy a child or set him/her in a bad mood. It is better to take smash the cake photo in natural lighting, but if it isn’t enough, you can add artificial soft light. For example, Fovitec StudioPro, a large softbox. It will give the necessary amount of light and won’t be too bright for the baby’s eyes.
If a baby begins to reach for your camera, you need to explain to him/her that he/she can’t touch the gear. Parents must look after the child so that he/he doesn’t inadvertently start to play with parts of the equipment and doesn’t break them.
Draw a child’s attention to a bright toy or props. If a child gets nervous or doesn’t feel like posing, you can show him/her several images on the screen and then promise to show the rest once the shooting is over. Chances are high that a baby will get curious and you will be able to take more funny photos.
When you are thinking about cake smash ideas for photo shoot, ask parents about the baby’s favorite toy or a cartoon character. With this info in mind, you can come up with an interesting theme for the shooting, as well as choose a corresponding cake smash backdrop, props and outfit.
You can even decorate a cake in a special manner. When a baby sees his favorite toy or a character on a cake, he/she will reward you with many sincere emotions and smiles.
To get creative cake smashing photography results, you need not only an expressive cake but also interesting baby poses. One of the parents can put a child behind the cake.
The main thing is to have time to take a photo before the moment when the baby has already smeared the cake. After photographing the baby near the cake, capture how clumsily a baby takes the cake with his/her hands and everything gets dirty.
You can also take a few pictures at the moment when the parents are smiling looking at their baby. This picture will be a very nice addition to the family photo album!
If a cake is the main symbol of the celebration, you can add extra sweets and treats, such as macaroons, handmade chocolate, marmalade and marshmallows, cupcakes, dried fruits, cookies in icing, pastilles, fruits and berries.
This all perfectly complements the frame. Also, you can take a picture not only of the birthday child but also of the friends next to him/her. This will help the baby feel more confident. Children can interact with food, have fun, play – this will make the pictures livelier.
For group photos, I recommend using lenses with a focal length of 140mm or bigger. One of the best lenses that I use is Fujifilm XF 55-200mm.
Photographing children is never easy, especially if it involves food. Be prepared that everything will be covered with icing, and I’m not just talking about a child. For such cases, I recommend bringing spare clothing for everyone.
If you are doing cake smash photography at home, place a baby on the surface which will be easy to clean afterwards. But if you start photographing on the carpet, keep in mind that it is likely to be ruined.
Since you are documenting baby’s first birthday, don’t forget to take a few pictures showing that it is the birthday. Balloons, party caps and gift boxes will help you with that.
However, remember that these items can distract the baby. So sometimes you have to remove cake smash photo shoot props from the frame. Also, mind that everything should look as simple as possible so that all attention is focused on the birthday girl/boy.
When choosing the color of the cake for a cake smash photo shoot, remember that it should not be too bright. For girls, you can choose pink, white, yellow. For boys – blue purple and white.
These colors perfectly match most backgrounds. Avoid large amounts of chocolate, red and brown colors as they don’t look very good when the baby smears the cake.
If you have planned a cake smashing photo shoot, remember that everything will be dirty. Don’t start taking pictures without a cleaning plan. If you photograph in the studio, you should always have baby wipes, several rolls of kitchen paper and garbage bags in store.
Also, when photographing in the studio, take extra clothes with you so that you can change your baby’s clothes after a shoot. Doing cake smashing photography at home, everything is a little easier – you can lay a sliding mat on the floor.
In case you have tiles, you shouldn’t worry because it will be easy to clean them. Never start taking cake smash shots if there is a soft carpet on the floor, because when the baby starts smearing the cake, the carpet will be ruined.
When the smash cake photo session is over, a photographer is supposed to edit images. While editing a shot, try to change it as little as possible. As with each picture editing step, you can remove the very details that make up the mood of the picture.
You can perform color correction, add sharpness, apply a filter that won’t change the colors of the picture significantly but will only emphasize them.
Using Lightroom and Photoshop photo editing tools, you can enhance any smash the cake photo in a few clicks.
This preset will add light and matte effect to a shot. It will increase the contrast and saturation of colors, instantly transforming a picture.
This preset will help you correct dark areas in the shot, smooth out the skin and correct colors.
This action helps you correct uneven skin, boost colors and add slight saturation. As a result, the shot won’t look over-edited, but preserve its natural look.
If you have taken a shot outside during a snowfall, this action will be a perfect fit. It adds snow to the photo and improves colors by removing the yellow light.
This overlay will create a festive atmosphere in the shot by adding lights. Also, it will help improve coloring and boost brightness.