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If the first birthday party is all about mom and dad surviving the first 12 months of keeping a little human alive and thriving, the cake smash is all about baby! It seems like a styled cake smash, either at home or in a photographer’s studio, has become a seriously fun right of passage and memorable way to celebrate a first birthday.
In studio or on location, I try to keep my camera bag well stocked with the essentials:
- My camera body and lenses (pictured are a 50mm and 35mm; my 24-70mm is on my Markii)
- Extra memory cards
- Battery charger
- tiny clamps
- baby wipes
- a Dreft Stain Remover to Go
- business cards
- random junk: my keys, a pen, my phone, some bobby pins, a fun button, and usually some small suckers
A little prep can go a long way to make a cake smash successful!
- Have all clean up materials handy before the shoot begins. I like to have plenty of baby wipes for hands, faces and bodies; small plastic bags for soiled clothes; and a Dreft Stain Remover to Go pen for frosting handprints on mom, dad or me!
- Be sure baby knows what he or she is getting! Try a cupcake a week or two before the big day so that baby knows that big mound of frosting is sweet and hiding yummy cake!
- The cake should be room temperature so it’s squishy and easy to smash.
- A change of clothes near by for the birthday babe.
Elaborate or simple, I think that a cake smash set up should always make baby and cake the highlight:
- Shoot in a well lit area with soft light. If inside, look for a bright window that doesn’t have a harsh shadow under it. If outside look for “open shade” – shade that is well lit (like on the edge of the sun/shade line) and free from dappled light (like from a tree).
- Seamless Photography paper is a great backdrop and is easy to manage and not too expensive. Set up a “photo studio” in your garage!
- Balloons, banners, streamers and hats are always a great option and it’s nice when they coordinate with the first birthday party look and colors.
- Outfits should be easy to move in and easy to get off. Sometimes less is more and sometimes more is more! It’s absolutely up to you and what baby will tolerate!
- Put baby in place before the cake is ready and snap a few photos of baby sans cake. If you have plenty of time, try to get a shot or two of the cake by itself! It makes a great opening shot for an album or book.
- Then introduce the cake to baby and get ready to snap fast!
- I like to put my camera on continuous shutter mode with a super fast shutter speed to make sure I can keep up with the action. My fastest cake smash was over in 3 minutes and the cake was absolutely demolished!
Sometimes the birthday babe just isn’t into the cake – so work with them!
- Tip the cake (and cake stand) over gently so the cake falls and then help it fall apart in big pieces.
- Offer baby a bite and try a bite yourself.
- If the frosting consistency is bothering baby, offer a fork or spoon – often a few bits off the fork will entice babe to try a fist full!
- Be patient, and follow baby’s cues. If baby just needs a little time to adjust, a quiet and chill atmosphere might help. On the flip side, some babes like an audience and some jams to smash their cakes!
And if all else fails, hide a few of baby’s favorite treats or snacks in the frosting in the back of the cake! Cheerios, gold fish, peanut butter crackers – sometimes a familiar snack will keep baby’s interest and get you some shots of baby touching the cake!
With patience, careful planning, clean up prep and a fun attitude, a cake smash can be a memorable event for everyone involved – and result in adorable images that are frame-worthy, social media worthy, and surely rehearsal dinner slide show worthy!
This post is a part of the Mom to Mom Advice Campaign with KSW Media. Thanks to Dreft for sponsoring this project and today’s conversation. All content and opinions as always, are my own.
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