Cake smashes are the latest trend in infant photography. I think a lot of parents view them as right of passage into toddler-hood for their babies since they're usually the first time a baby will eat sweets. We did out cake smash just a few days shy of Harry's first birthday, but I know some parents like to get them done a month or so in advance so the pictures can be used on birthday party invitations.
I've seen some awesome outdoor cake smashes, but since the weather is so cold in Chicago now that wasn't a feasible option for us. Something that was feasible was creating our own little portrait studio in our living room. Here's what the set-up looked like.
I used two dowel rods attached to our bookshelf so I could hang the drop cloth, which was 90'' wide muslin I from JoAnn Fabrics (I purchased 3 yards, which was plenty long). Ant helped me set up everything the night before the photo shoot so we didn't have to rush around the morning of.
Where ever you decide to do your photo shoot, keep it within a close distance to a bathtub! Either that, or make sure you have a huge container of wipes because, obviously, cake smashes are messy. I'm so glad we did the shoot in our living room because he got the cake and frosting alllllll over.
I saw a cake smash photo a while back that used streamers as a background and filed it away to use for Harry's cake smash. Cute, easy and inexpensive! I really liked the Happy Birthday banner I bought, but I hung it way too high. It's not even in a lot of the pictures. So, if you're going to do some type of banner, hang it at least five inches lower than you think it needs to be.
Other cute prop ideas include: hats, balloons, giant letters/numbers, wrapped presents and Mardi Gras beads. I think keeping the set relatively simple is the way to go with cake smashes so all the focus can be on the baby and cake. A nice background with one large prop is perfect in my opinion.
Oh, and we ended up giving him a little spoon at one point since that seemed to keep his interest more than the cake. Not ideal, but we did what we had to do to get the perfect shots.
Making Harry's cake smash cake was very important to me. More for sentimental value than anything else. I did a Funfetti cake with white frosting and green Wilton icing . Photo-wise, I think that turned out really well. Doing a chocolate cake might have popped a little more, but I'm trying to keep Harry away from chocolate because of a childhood allergy I had.
As for the cake size, I baked two six inch cakes in paper baking molds I found at JoAnns. The cakes fit perfectly inside the cute little cake stand I found (original is no longer available, but here's a similar one).
Don't forget the candle!
Don't over think this one. Something simple will work best. For boys, I think a cloth diaper or diaper cover is the cutest option. A matching bow tie would be an adorable touch, too. I personally wouldn't do anything more than a solid colored onesie. Colored icings will stain, so plan on an outfit you don't need to use again.
For girls, a tutu is a must! Paired with a strand of pearls and a bow in her hair.
- Here are some ideas of what to photograph:
- Establishing shot of the set
- Close up of the cake before baby gets to it
- Baby sitting sweetly next to the cake (gotta be quick with this one!)
- Baby reaching for the cake
- The first taste of frosting
- Close up of baby playing with the cake
- The aftermath
- You'll definitely need an assistant! Harry kept trying to crawl off set so it was really helpful to have Ant there to wrangle him back in front of the camera.
- As far as lighting goes, I didn't do anything fancy. I probably could have used an extra light, though. My ISO was bumped way up so some of the photos are kind of noisey, but I don't mind too much. I also used my Lightscoop of course! As well as a gold light reflector.
- If you don't have a DSLR, try shooting with the flash off. You'll need to use a tripod (or just prop the camera on a stack of books) to minimize camera shake (aka, blurry photos).
- Plan on shooting for about a half hour. Harry started to get fussy after 25 minutes and got frosting in his eyes, which marked the end of his cooperation (can't say I blame the poor kid!).
- Editing makes all the difference! I edited my photos in PhotoShop Elements, but there are free programs like Picasa and PicMonkey that will make your pictures look great.
Do you have any other DIY cake smash tips? Let me know in the comments!