Cake smash photo shoots are pretty aptly named really. You basically put a birthday cake in front of your one year old and let them go to town. The only rules are there are no rules – they can smash, squish, smush, throw and occasionally even eat the cake.
One of the most common questions I get asked is what kind of cake works best and over the six years or so that I’ve been doing these shoots, I’ve seen most types of cake so here’s my advice.
Don’t Do Chocolate
Stick with vanilla sponge, or rainbow, or basically any colour cake that’s not the same colour as poo.
Professional vs Home Made
This is just a question of budget and how much time you have. Lots of people bring a professionally made cake because they have a one year old and no time to make themselves. Then lots of people get in the kitchen and whip up their own – there’s no one that works better than the other. Like I say, just a question of time and budget.
The Icing is the Key
Whether you make or buy the cake, the icing squish factor is the key. If you’re buying a cake from a supermarket, it’s worth checking how soft the icing is. Naturally store bought cakes are designed to make it onto the shelves still looking great and this means that sometimes the icing is more solid. That’s not always the case, there are some that have softer icing but it’s a good idea to try and assess this in store. Buttercream works better than royal icing as it is easier to play with – royal icing can prove challenging for little hands.
Candles and Toppers
Since cake smashes are so popular these days, there’s lots of candles and cake toppers on the market with some great personalised options. They look fab on the cake but we usually have to take them away quite near to the start of the session as they often have spiky bits on the bottom so you can get them in the cake. So cool if you want to have them for some photos but not worth spending a fortune on as they tend not to last that long.
I have one clear Perspex cake stand in the studio which looks best with 8-10″ cakes. You’re welcome to bring your own of course but they’re not essential. If your baby is quite small then they can get a bit lost behind a cake on a stand so we tend to just put the cake on the floor. There’s a good chance, if you’re using a stand, that it will tip over at some point. That cane add to the whole cake smashing fun, or not depending on what you like, so they’re just a matter of personal taste.
Icing Colours and Decorations
Icing comes in pretty much any colour you can dream of so whatever works with your colour scheme. However, in my experience, some of the darker colours can stain the skin so it’s usually better to stick to paler shades.
In terms of decorations, sprinkles are always a bit hit. Bear in mind, when you’re decorating that your cake is mostly going to be photographed from the side rather than the top so elaborate designs and wording on top of the cake can often get a bit lost in the finished photos.
Let me start by saying that not a whole lot of cake tends to get actually eaten. It’s more of a play thing than a food thing. In cases where a baby is really tucking in, I work really fast to get the images so they don’t get too long at it. That said, if you’d prefer a sugar free alternative, then I’ve had clients use fresh cream instead – adding colour with blended fruit like blueberries or strawberries. This has always been a popular choice with their little ones as buttercream can be a bit sweet for them sometimes.
Cake smash photo shoots are kind of an ‘anything goes’ affair so my top tip would just be to bring along any cake you are happy with and we will just let our mini adventure unfold as it will!