How to pull off the perfect DIY first birthday cake smash photoshoot
The cake smash photography trend has made its way to Australia. It’s usually done around the child’s first birthday to mark the milestone. I used the photos on my daughters first birthday party invitations, and they looked adorable!
Many people engage a professional photographer to take the photos. Don’t want to spend money on a photographer? No problem! You can do this yourself at home. All you need is to put on your creative hat, go shopping for a few props, and grab a camera.
Here’s my guide on how to ace it:
Location Decide on whether you want it to be outdoors or indoors. If you do it outdoors you need to be mindful of the sun positioning and any possible shadows which could interfere with your photos. Depending on the time of day. Look for a spot in your home that has good window light and avoid the harsher light. If you choose indoors there will be more mess to clean up, so decide what’s right for you.
Pick the furniture You can have your child sit in a cute wooden highchair like I did. Or alternatively, you can ditch the high chair if you want things to get messier. The messier the better for photos, but I also think having a pretty high chair is cute too! It depends on personal preference.
Pick a theme Plan out what theme you want, such as colours and style. You should make sure you colour coordinate! Search Pinterest for some cool ideas. I went with a pink and gold theme.
Get props The $2 store is the perfect place to get props that fit in with your theme. Props you may want to consider: balloons, bunting, streamers, headband, necklace, confetti, a number 1 for the cake, party hat, cake stand etc. However it’s easy to go overboard, so keep it simple. Don’t worry about having a busy background either as you want the focus to be on your child.
Outfit You can get a cute outfit for your child, a tutu, or just put him/her in a singlet or even shirtless! Keep in mind cloth nappies or nappy covers are much prettier than showing disposable ones which can look tacky.
Get a cake You can easily make the cake yourself at home if you are confident you can do a decent job. After all, it's not actually going to be eaten. A 6-inch cake covered in buttercream icing is all you need, no fondant! I made my own cake! Make sure you choose an icing colour that will stand out, don’t pick white icing as it looks washed out. Also, don’t use a chocolate cake because it isn’t visually appealing. Also, I heard red frosting is a no-no because it looks like blood. Some parents buy an un-iced sponge cake from the supermarket then ice them at home. If you’re not confident in making your own, and have the budget, purchase a professional cake, as it will look better in the photos.
Tip: On the day let the cake sit out of the fridge for a while so it’s soft and the frosting is easier to smash. Schedule the session You may also want to choose a time of day that is best for your location. For example, midday sun can be challenging for outdoor photo shoots. You also want to make sure your child isn’t tired or due for a nap. Or if they are sick, teething or irritable it might be best to reschedule. Make sure your child is fed beforehand so he/she isn’t grizzly.
Enlist a helper Speaking from experience ask someone to help you on the day. I did mine all by my lonesome and it was the most exhausting experience ever, it felt like I ran a marathon. You want someone who is going to hand you props, help create laughs, help with the clean-up etc. Also, if you have a dog or other pet who wants to join in, why not?
Practice Take some test photos before you position your child! This is to make sure the settings on your camera are right, and the location works. If you're taking the photos with a DSLR camera, try sports mode as this allows continuous photos giving you a better chance of capturing that perfect shot.
Some children freak out and get “cake shy”, and refuse to touch the cake, especially it’s a new experience. To combat this, some people have a practice before the day. This means letting them try cake/icing and also having a go at messy play. This ensures they will be familiar with the feeling of food on their skin and not freak out when they are allowed to make a giant mess.
Another alternative is to let them do finger painting or squish a bowl full of yoghurt. It’s also fun to practice some cute little actions like “clapping hands” and saying “hooray” (arms in the air). These actions look great in the photos.
This is also a good idea to ensure your child does not have a reaction to cake/icing if they have not tried it before.
Make a list of the photos you want to take During the pressure of the photoshoot, it's easy to forget what images you want to shoot. And once the photo shoot is over, well you can’t recreate it. So, make a list, and keep it with you to refer to during the shoot. It’s always good to take before and after photos, i.e of the setting before, then what it looks like after. Also try to get some photos from different angles, and some face close ups, and or messy hands.
Have an exit plan You want to make sure you are ready when the cake smash is over. Have a bath ready to go, and bucket/sink where you can throw the dirty clothes in. The last thing you want is icing all over the house!
Tip: In the event that your child gets “cake shy” refusing to touch it, have a wooden kitchen spoon on hand so he/she can smash it with the spoon instead! It’s more fun.