It can sound like a weird idea: get a perfectly good cake, then take photos of your 12-month-old making a real mess of it. But cake smashes are growing in popularity – and they’re a lot of fun for everyone involved!
Cake smash photography sessions started in America a few years ago, but the trend has since made its way to Australian shores. The cake smash is usually done around the child’s first birthday, and the photos are often used on the first birthday party invitations or just to mark the milestone. It’s often the first time the child has eaten much cake, and the first time they’ve been allowed to do whatever they want with it – whether it’s face-planting into it, putting icing in their hair, or knocking the whole thing over then crawling through it.
Here are some tips for making the most of your child’s cake smash, compiled from the advice of parents and professional photographers, to help you get the most from the experience. But of course the most important thing - for both you and your child - is to have fun!
• Be ready to clean up afterwards! Have plenty of wipes and towels or a bath handy. If you’re shooting outdoors, take a bag to dispose of the used wipes.
• You might like to use some cheap lino off-cuts as flooring – they can be rolled up and simply hosed off afterwards.
• One parent on the Essential Baby forum says she put up a sheet in the background and another on the ground, then placed a piece of clear Perspex on top of that for her child to sit on for the cake smash shoot.
• You can use bunting or a few balloons or streamers to add colour to the background, but remember that you want the baby and the cake to be the focus - you don’t need to go overboard with decorations. Other photographers suggest using a plain, solid coloured background.
• Think about what you want your child to wear. Remember that whatever they're wearing might end up covered in cake and icing, so now's not the time for fancy clothes! Lots of parents just put their little ones in nappies for the cake smash.
• If your child will be wearing a disposable nappy in the pictures, it can look nicer if they’ve got a nappy cover over the top.
• You don’t have to go overboard with the cake – many parents suggest buying un-iced sponge cakes from the supermarket them icing them yourself, as the sponge breaks up easily.
• Avoid fondant, as it’s too hard for kids to break into! Buttercream icing – or even whipped cream - is best.
• Don’t keep the cake in the fridge beforehand, as it can make them too hard for kids to break up.
• Most photographers say that vanilla cake looks best in photos, and advise parents to avoid chocolate. Red icing is probably best avoided, too, as when it melts it can look a bit like blood.
• While you can use coloured icing or trims, simple cakes can look great in photos – colourful sprinkles on a white cake is all you need!
• if you're taking the photos with a DLSR yourself, try putting it onto sports mode. This lets you take continuous photos, which gives you a better chance of capturing that perfect expression or action.
• If you have dogs, bring them in at the end to help with the clean up – it can give you the chance to capture some more precious photos!
• If your baby isn’t too sure about the cake, try putting a bit on your finger to pop in their mouth. If he hasn’t had much experience with cake, he might not know it’s edible.
• Some parents like to take a few photos of the clean up after the cake smash is done, taking some snaps of their little one in the bubble bath too.
• One mum on the Essential Baby forum was worried about her daughter not liking the cake, or not being too enthusiastic about eating it. But, she pointed out, “It really didn't matter. There are some gorgeous photos of her taking petite little bites!”
See cute photos of cake smashes in our gallery.