by Guest Contributor Harshita of Avnida Photography
Some trends come and go. Before you even blink, it’s a new hip thing, and then just as quickly, the sizzle goes away. Then there is cake smash. A trend that is steadily gaining in the list of special moments of a child’s first year. Moments that need an experienced, professional photographer to capture the wide variety of emotions.
Then why is it that cake smash photography isn’t popular? Google’s keyword planner shows 40,000 average monthly searches for ‘newborn photography’, 18,000 for ‘maternity photography’ but only 1,900 for ‘cake smash photography’.
The answer lies in a three letter word: FUD.
Now, now, hold your horses. Being one myself, I know we photographers are a crazy bunch. Before your imagination runs wild, let me clarify what FUD means: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.
Fear – will the cake smash be as exciting as a newborn session? Uncertainty – should I or parents get the cake? Doubt – will the baby smash the cake, so we can get good pictures? Let’s smash these one by one. See what I did there. Now that we are over my clever puns, let’s get into it.
What should I keep in mind regarding the cake?
Safety: I am big on baby safety in all my sessions whether newborn or cake smash. A baby may be allergic to wheat, egg, refined sugar among other things. For that reason, I always ask the parents to bring the cake. This also allows them to choose the design and colors.
Design: I suggest that parents get a professional cake. The results are much better. I know that the trend is to go large, but we don’t need a three-layer cake. A medium cake gets the same results in a reasonable price.
Colors: Pink, white, yellow and light green photograph well, and match with most backdrops. I like orange as well. It is vibrant and makes the photographs pop. Avoid chocolate, red and blue – the first two don’t look good when wet and the last is tough to clean.
Cake: Go with whipped or butter cream frosting so it’s easy to dig into. Avoid fondant – it’s tough to break and can be a choking hazard. Sprinkles, absolutely, if you can get them on the cake without having to modify your design.
Can I assume the baby will always dig in?
Follow this trick that has always worked for me. Close your eyes and dream. You have a one-year old sitting in front, who will listen and do exactly what you ask. “Dig in”, you say, and dutifully s/he digs in, smashing the cake in the most photographic manner possible. I am sure you saw this one coming from a mile away. It’s a dream; reality is different.
Practice: Remember the baby is just one year old, and is often shy of exploring a new texture, shape or taste. Especially when surrounded by adults making funny noises and clapping to egg them on. So, take away the anxiety. I suggest that parents practice at home, before the session, with a cupcake. Icing on top, preferably the same colors, and a similar environment i.e. everyone sits on the floor. This isn’t a foolproof solution but it has given me good results. By the way, a smaller portion may help uncover any allergies not known to parents earlier.
How do I make it an experience?
Repeat after me, this is not a cake smash session. Sincere apologies if this sounds condescending, but know this, I am guilty too. We have to remind folks that this is about an experience. And a cake smash is perhaps the only time where we both create and capture the memories, right?
Plan a theme: I ask the parents about favorite toy, book or character. Then we plan a theme around it. Trust me, this makes it easier for the parents as well. Well known characters means known colors making the cake design easier, and available accessories to purchase and add to the setup. Example, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.
Remember, a cake smash session invariably coincides with the first birthday party. Picking out a theme helps parents with planning this significant event. Even before they step into your studio, you’ll have made good friends of them.
How do I setup for cake smash?
Getting down to brass tax. Make a list so it’s easy to plan effectively.
Cake: Make sure it’s at room temperature.
Cake Stand: Always looks good, but you have to very careful. It may fall down and ruin the cake.
Extra Sprinkles: Trust me, you need them.
Spoon: Just in case, to help the baby get started.
Backdrop: I prefer seamless paper that I roll all the way down so the baby can sit on it too. Yes, you will lose some at the end.
Siblings: In a different room, preferably. There’s a cake in the room after all, and you can’t blame them for trying.
Watchful eye: Remember, babies can move really quickly. Guard the cake and the accessories.
And, all of this brings us to…
The Clean up Plan
Never start a cake smash without a clean up plan. Here is the list of items I always keep handy.
In the studio: Baby wipes, kitchen paper rolls, brush, dust pan and a trash bag.
Nearby: Ample towels. Especially in the bathroom or powder room. If you don’t have access to either, I suggest a small bathing tub.
Parents bring: Extra pair of clothes for all family members attending. Bags to take the dirty clothes home.
Well, I hope you found these tips helpful, and the clouds of FUD has been cleared away. And a special thanks to the team at Rock The Shot for providing the forum to share insights with each other, helping us all.
About the Author: Hi, I am Harshita of Avnida Photography. After earning two Masters of Science in Computer Science and spending 5 years writing code, I gave in to my real passion; photography, especially of newborn and kids. I love capturing the experiences of life, and the love in everyday moments through my lens. Join me on Facebook or Google+ in this journey to encourage me, share ideas and teach me new things.