I am not entirely sure who started the "cake smash" craze, but they have my respect! Watching these little ones unravel in emotion during this coming of age is a pleasure. Cake Smashes weren't such a big thing 5+ years ago, but it really is such an amazing milestone to capture. We begin with the clean, traditional portraits. They smile, cry, give me GQ or just stare at me with their gorgeous little eyes. After we've broken the ice some then we get messy. And when I say WE, I meant every piece of that!!
A Cake Smash session is literally just that. I figured I would explain it some, but I'm sure you are familiar with the whole idea now. During this session I capture your baby ringing in ONE the way they so choose. They get to indulge in their cake in their own way and believe me, it is totally worth seeing. Some babies take the clean approach and literally pick at the icing while others know that going head-first is the move. However your baby feels in eating their cake, my camera and I are ready to make this a lasting memory. Their first birthday swings around faster than you can imagine. Don't let it flutter by without some sort of documentation, whether at their party or a session before the big day.
So since this is such a big milestone for them, I figured I would give you some tips and insight on setting up a cake smash session. Ready? Let's go!
So this is a big one! There are a few options as far as the location for your session. If your photographer has a studio, then that is a great setting. They can have everything all ready to go when you arrive. I make sure that I clean my studio, do the entire set up, check my lighting and have the cake set aside in the fridge just waiting for the main event. This way, you show up with baby in-hand ready to go. Their attention spans are shorter, so I don't waste time.
There are other options for location such as your home, backyard or even an open field/beach. Here in Jacksonville, FL, and even South Georgia, the beaches are beautiful so why not take advantage?! If you are going to use a public place, please be kind to nature and clean up behind yourselves.
I always set up the smash on the ground. I do this for 2 reasons: easy clean up and safety. I don't want my babies falling off of a lifted fixture being as they are more than likely mobile (crawling and/or walking) by this time. Also, having the session on the floor makes for great use of angles and perspective.
Backdrops & Themes
This is where your creativity really gets to sore. Parents, think of what your baby is into at this point. Who is their favorite character? What is their party theme? Maybe draw from their baby shower! It's totally up to you what theme you want. This will give your photographer ideas for backdrops and their setup.
I like to use a mix of backdrop materials, but the best so far is seamless paper and fabric drops. Both materials have a huge color payoff for vibrant and punchy colors in the portraits. My fabric drops are only used for the actual backdrop
whereas I use the seamless all over. It is much easier to cut and toss paper over getting icing out of a fabric. Once you have your color scheme/theme for the session, decorating can begin. That is my favorite part!
Your cake is part of the theme portion. I suggest getting your cake professionally done (always specify allergies to your cake artist). You can always do a homemade cake, but just a tip...store-bought icing tends to harden during refrigeration, making it a little harder for your baby to smash. I love my cake artist Velvet Couture Cakes by Mel out here in Kingsland, GA. She can make pretty much anything and she will make sure your cake is by the studio before your session so you don't have to pick it up and travel with it.
If you are expecting to print and display the portraits at the birthday party, think about scheduling your session when your baby is 11 months. This will give you enough time to get your images back and time to print. If you aren't worried about it, do the session after the party (especially if the party and shoot have the same theme). You can relax and take your time so there is no rushing.
Pick a time for your session. Please take into consideration the nap schedule of your baby. Sleepy babies are very cranky and just want to be loved on. There is nothing wrong with that, but you want them to be happy for their portraits. If your session will be outside, pick a time that the lighting will be just beautiful. Golden hour is amazing. It's about an hour before the sunset. Timing is everything.
Bring Drinks + Snacks
You may be a little confused by this. Isn't cake snack enough? No. If your baby isn't quite interested in the cake then we use the snacks to get them to interact with the cake some. We stick the small little puffs at the back of the cake where I wont be able to see it and BOOM!! Your baby is eating cake!! This is another biggie! I would rather you have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I feel like you would understand having the drink. Babies are not at all used to having that much sugar in one sitting. Having some water, diluted juice or even milk available for them helps to
wash the cake down. Most babies look for a drink during the cake smashing portion.
Be Prepared to Get Involved
For some, this is the first time the baby is having cake. This is a foreign object and it's normal for any curious mind to be suspicious. Your baby is no different. This is when you help them upon introduction. Some babies dive right in and some walk right by the cake as if it weren't even there. I ask my parents to feed them some and help them understand that it is edible. Your babies trust you most of all. You say "its good" and offer them some, they will go right ahead and dive in! It works every time. You test the product first and then they are ready for action. I'll even have some parents help baby smash the cake so they get the idea to really get in there.
Don't be afraid to help your photographer out. Babies at this stage are very active and sometimes very emotional. It's important for their biggest support to be present and active. I laugh with my clients and let the know this is not their newborn session where they were able to sit back. It's party time and WE are in this together.
Relax and Soak It In
This is the biggest one of all! I know you have high expectations for your baby and preconceived thoughts in your mind. You know them and they are the most comfortable with you. Don't be discouraged if they do not give you the immediate reaction you want. This is totally fine. This is their moment and we will still get some amazing captures. After it's all over, this is what you will remember. Whether or not they smash the cake to smithereens, laugh, smile, cry, clap, walk around, stay in one spot, splash big, or even ignore the cake completely, we will still enjoy ourselves. Your family will have beautiful portraits to remind you of your baby's first birthday. They will only turn 1 once; they will only celebrate their first year around the sun once. Soak it all in. Soak up every single moment and let it flow. Don't allow stress to ruin this for you. You worked so hard to get them here so bask in the success. Your amazing baby is fully worth celebrating and I will totally help you with that.
Do you want to learn more about our Cake Smash sessions? Feel free to head over to the Cake Smash page and take a look at all the glory we have captured together. Whenever you are ready, I am free to chat. Don't hesitate to message me.
Thank you for reading and I hope these tips helped you!