Nothing marks the occasion like a cake smash. This trend has grown to be increasingly popular for the birthday of infants, children, adults or even maternity shoots. This trend has been utilized for marking milestones and the world is all for it. Apart from being adorable by all definitions, there’s something oddly satisfying in smashing a perfectly made cake. Now, as easy as this may seem to capture in theory, if a photographer doesn’t play his/her cards right, the shoot could turn from cute to messy in a split second. Hence, a lot of tips need to be deployed to ensure everything goes according to plan. Here are some very effective cake smash photo tips for your next shoot.
- Choose the right cake
It wouldn’t be a cake smashing photo session if the cake didn’t smash now would it. Depending on the subject, choose or recommend a cake that is easy to rip. Now, choosing a cake transcends the cake type and moves towards the color as well. Smashing a red cake would make the subject look like a vampire, and brown would look like they’re playing with poop so stick to the fun colors. As for the type, vanilla sponge cakes are very easy for even a toddler to get into. They’re soft and crumbly for little hands to disintegrate. As for the icing, butter cream will give you the mess you desire.
- Set the scene
As easy as this may seem, setting the scene for a cake smash photoshoot can be daunting. Firstly, your set has to be color coordinated. In essence, the set has to match the subject’s outfit and the cake too. Hence, if the cake smash is for a kid or a toddler, keeping age-friendly props on the set is recommended. If it’s for an adult, then generic items like balloons, ribbons, flowers or huge letters is still appropriate. The scene should resonate with the demographic of the subject – this is how you get referrals and build your clientele. In essence, set the scene for things to get messy because they definitely will.
- Safety first
With all the possible food allergies a baby can have, it’s best all parties inculcate safety habits to prevent a hazardous experience. Cakes can be filled with several ingredients ranging from cinnamon to peanuts, gluten to vanilla, etc. As a guardian to the child, it’s your responsibility to ensure that there are no allergens present in the cake before your child goes ahead to smash it. The photographer’s job in terms of safety is to guarantee that they’re no choking hazards present where the subject will be staged. Therefore, both parties need to prioritize the safety of the subject to ensure a successful shoot.
- Encourage the subject
This is in the case of babies or kids. They may need the photographer to show them that it’s okay to dive into the cake and play to their heart’s content. For babies try guiding their hands to the cake and let them do what feels natural while you capture every move. For adults and more mature kids, minimal interference will be preferred as you try to align their posture, smiles, or body language. In essence, make the subject feel comfortable and encouraged enough to be themselves around cake.
- Proper Scheduling
Scheduling a child’s cake smash photo session is important as the timing matters. Some parents try to get their kids to smash a cake on their birthday when there are loads of people around which might be uncomfortable or even stressful for the child. Regardless of how and when it needs to be done, the child’s comfort should be prioritized. If it’s a studio session, it should be scheduled before nap time so the child is all geared up and tired enough to go to sleep once the shoot is over.
- Fix the lighting
The lighting of a cake smash shoot should neither be as intense as a makeup shoot nor a fashion shoot. These are kids after all. The shoot is supposed to come off as fun and cute hence, harsh lighting isn’t necessary. Look for a soft light, probably one with a little hue to work with. Whether natural or studio light, adjust the settings accordingly to the retrieve the desired result. Remember, babies and children are still sensitive to intense light, so try as much as possible to have soft light. Open a widow or two if you can, just to balance it out.
- Perfect the exposure settings
Once the cake comes in, there’s only a little time before it’s completely smashed beyond salvaging. Hence, as a photographer you’ll need to work fast. First off, you’ll need to take some candid of the baby before the cake is brought in, then you need some photos of the cake against the background before the baby is placed next to it. Hence, to take crisp images of all subjects, the exposure, ISO and shutter speed need to be good to go as there might be little or no time for breaks.
- Arrange for cleanup
It’s not a cake smash shoot if the cleanup crew doesn’t show up after. There’s likely to be traces of cake everywhere once the shoot is done. Hence, as a photographer you’ll need a crew to handle the tidying up and removal of props. If you plan on handling the tidying up yourself, keep paper towels and bleach handy. However, to prevent getting stains you cannot remove, set up the scene on something like a tarp then decorate it accordingly. This prevents cake from spilling on the carpets or walls.
- Minimum edits please!
Remember, this is a child’s shoot and it needs to possess that child-like wonder. Hence, go easy on the edits and do not try to eliminate any cake splotches from the images for the sake of the aesthetic. It’s a cake smash shoot after all and it needs to be authentic. Adjust the brightness, saturation and other features accordingly to reveal the innocence that’s embedded in every child.
- Seek parental assistance
Naturally, the parents of the child are expected to be present all through the shoot to oversee the entire process and just be there with and for their child. Hence, seek their assistance in getting the subject ‘camera ready’ or simply in calming their child. They can play their favorite song, sing along, clap, dance or make funny faces just to get the babies to smile even as their entire face is stuffed with cake. Now, that would be a priceless photo.
Cake smash photo sessions might just be the cutest and most rewarding ones there are. Regardless of the age of the subject or the occasion of the shoot, a cake smash shoot is a way to capture milestones and it’s pretty popular these days. As a photographer, you’re in for a lot of fun and cute smiles from such a shoot. However, there are some pointers to help you achieve success with such shoots but they all boil down to your preparation, the safety of the child, the presence of their guardian and the edits after. Play your cards right and you might get that shot you’ve been craving.