As my second son’s first birthday was fast approaching, I wanted to do a cake smash photoshoot for him, just as I did for his elder brother. Through my experience with the first session, I learned a few valuable lessons that are worth passing onto any parent wanting to do the same:
- Save your pennies and do it yourself - Professional cake smash photoshoots are EXPENSIVE!
- Paying for a professional shoot doesn’t always guarantee quality photos - Babies are not rarely comfortable in an unfamiliar setting or studio having strangers snap their picture.
- A professional cake smash photoshoot is not candid - What should be a natural and lasting memory ends up looking highly staged.
Unfortunately, while most parents justify spending money on a professional cake smash photoshoot as a lovely memory to look back on for years to come, the reality is that you’ll get little more than a staged photoshoot, where the photographer breaks apart the cake and spreads icing and ingredients across the frame to create what appears to be a natural setting. With this knowledge under my belt, I decided to do things a little differently with my second child. If you’re looking to follow in my footsteps and create a DIY cake smash photoshoot for your little one’s first birthday, here’s my top tips:
Perhaps at home, a nearby park or a relative’s house. To ensure my little one was in a comfortable setting and was tucked away from the winter breeze, I chose a spot normally used for the kids play area. To get the most out of the space for decorating purposes, I’d recommend choosing a setting with a backdrop (i.e. wall) that way you can use props and decorations to visually enhance the photoshoot and be sure to choose a location with tiled or timber floor (do NOT do this on carpet).
2. Inexpensive Decorations
A good idea for an inexpensive yet highly effective backdrop is to use a bed sheet. As you can see in the images below, I hung a dark grey king sized bed sheet to the wall using paint safe tape. To ensure your decorating options aren’t limited, it’s best to use a neutral or understated colour for the backdrop. As I had already decided to use Blue Turtle 1st Birthday Supplies for his party, I also based the smash cake design and colour scheme off this. For the finishing touches, I used puff ball decorations and a bunting garland from our range.
To complete the look, I grabbed some polka dot themed balloons and paired them with a fun balloon weight. It’s a great idea to use balloons as an extra pop, as it not only allows the pictures to look more festive, it also gives the baby something additional to focus on so your little one doesn’t lose interest mid-photoshoot.
Choosing your birthday boy or girls outfit can be a lot of fun! I decided to use a cheaper alternative to the standard cake smash outfits available online. These typically consist of a pair of bloomers or skirt for girls, a little tie or bowtie (boys), and a party hat. Bought from specialty shops, these can cost you upwards of $50. Have a look closer to home - I found a Cookie Monster nappy cover from Best & Less, and little bowtie from a local children’s boutique shop, and used the party hat from the Blue Turtle 1st Birthday theme. All up I spent $10 on the outfit. Feel free to use whatever feels right for your themed cake smash photoshoot - whether that's simply a nappy, or perhaps a favourite outfit!
One of the most important steps for ensuring a successful cake smash photoshoot is to pick a spot with great lighting! Whether it be natural or artificial, it’s a must for guaranteeing quality images. No need to worry, you don’t need to invest in expensive lights to get it right! I was lucky enough to have triple lights hanging off my fan, which I could angle around to point directly at the area from one side. On the other side, I placed two regular house hold lamps, one lying down and one sitting on top of a curtain rail. Between all the lights, the area was nice and bright. Work with the equipment you have. Whether it’s choosing a bright room or using every lamp in the house, you can easily achieve professional looking images from the comfort of your own home.
5. The cake
Another extremely important detail that must not be overlooked… THE CAKE! As the centrepiece of the photoshoot, it’s important to put effort into choosing a beautiful design and theme. I decided to make my own, using a supermarket cake mix and homemade buttercream icing. However, if you’re short of time and baking skills, simply try your local bakeries and cake shops! I like baking however, and although I am not experienced with making cakes, I love the chance to play around and try different cakes, so I made an attempt at a monster smash cake I saw online. Although it didn't look quite (at all) like the original, I was still happy with it. Little hint - if you make your own, do a trial run first. I won't post the picture of my trial run, but the one used was a big improvement as I learned a few lessons!
Now everything’s ready!! If you are doing the smash shoot in winter like I did, make sure you have the room warm enough for whatever outfit your baby is wearing! All that's left is to bring in the guest of honour, settle back and get ready to snap a LOT of photos! Try giving your baby something like a wooden spoon. It makes a great prop, and gives your baby something additional to use to smash the cake with and chew on. I know my boy loved the spoon more than the cake, and barely let it out of his sight!
Once you bring your baby in, don't be surprised if they take a few minutes to suss out what’s going on. But they should start to investigate pretty quickly, and expect them to check out everything, from the cake, to the balloons and backdrop. The fun really begins when they figure out what to do with the cake.
Although the cake is the main focus of the shoot (besides your baby of course), don't worry if they seem to go off track and start investigating everything else around them. 1 year old's do have a very short attention span! Just go with the flow, and keep snapping pictures, as some of the 'distracted' pictures will end up being your best!
One more thing to keep in mind - wear old clothes yourself!! Your little one will get distracted, they will try to make a break for it many times, spotting interesting things around the room, or simply wanting to come and jump on you for a cuddle! You will also end up covered in cake, this is almost a certainty! Once again, just keep clicking those photos, pop baby back with the cake, or show them the balloons or another back drop item, and get some more pictures. There will, of course, come a point when you know your little one has had enough, and don't push past this point or it won't be fun for anyone anymore! I knew we had reached this point once my son just constantly tried to wander away or run to me, and had no more interest in the cake, any of the props, and just wouldn't stay any longer. So straight into a bath he went after this!
Remember, above all, this photo shoot is meant to be FUN! So, if things aren't going to plan, don't stress, and just take what pictures you can, and if that means 5 quick pictures of a baby who want's nothing to do with it at all and won't be convinced to touch the cake, just go with it and take those photos. They will still be a cute memory and something to laugh about in the future, and it's not like you've wasted a lot of money on a professional photographer!
If you’re in the process of trying to pick an appropriate theme and source inspiration for your little one’s cake smash photoshoot, be sure to check out our fantastic range of themed and plain party supplies for a range of occasions and events.