A Smashing Good Time: Cake Smash Photo Shoots for First Birthdays

In the 1990’s Anne Geddes photographs of adorable babies in flower pots, cabbage leaves, and all kinds of other too cute poses began a new trend in newborn photography. All new parents love to document their baby’s every milestone with pictures and social media has only increased that trend. There are props to document baby’s growth through pictures and video, of every month from birth to 12 months.

The biggest milestone parents want to photograph is their child’s first birthday and of course, that includes the baby’s reaction to their cake. Cake smash photo shoots have become a way to extend the first birthday celebrations for little ones and to record them in pictures. A cake smash photo shoot can take place at the baby’s first birthday party, but professional photographers and experienced parents alike seem to agree that a separate photo shoot is less stressful on the parents and the birthday boy or girl.

These photo shoots have become so popular that many professional photography studios offer them as part of their one-year-old birthday photo session. Some newborn photographers will offer parents who have a newborn photo shoot a discount to return for a cake smash photo session in a year.  

Like any other endeavor involving a baby, there needs to be careful planning around your child’s personality and preferences. Photo sessions will go much more smoothly if planned around nap and meal times. Also, since this is probably your baby’s first encounter with sweets you may want to try out a few practice cupcakes ahead of time.  Most parents and photographers who have worked with babies at these photo shoots recommend a simple white cake with whipped icing because it’s not as heavy or rich as other icings. Parents will want to provide their own cake to accommodate for any allergies their child may have.cake smash outfit ideas

Parents willing to take on the task of photographing the cake smash on their own will still need to enlist the help of at least one friend or relative on the day of the shoot. The best pictures seem to be made on a flat surface, not in a high chair. Props should be kept simple and can be inexpensive as long as they coordinate around one or two key items. You want the focus to be the baby and the cake, not a cluttered background. Plan ahead and find a spot in your home, yard, or area park that has soft lighting and will be comfortable for your baby.

Take practice shots without the cake to check lighting and placement of any props. Once the cake is put into the baby’s reach the pictures will have to be taken quickly to catch every moment. Babies who are uncertain about digging into the cake may have to be coaxed along before they are sure what to do. This is one time where parents actually want their little one to make a mess because the bigger the mess the cuter the pictures.

Cake smash photo shoots can match the theme of the baby’s first birthday party or take an entirely different route. There are themes that work for boys and girls like a lemonade stand, Mickey Mouse, circus, Sesame Street, picnic, or beach scene. Popular themes for girls include of course variations of colors using pink.

Pink and gold are very popular as is pink and turquoise. These outfits usually include a tutu, a headband and lots of sparkles. Themes for boys often include sports, the wild west, or other outdoor scenes, or even dinosaurs. Bare feet are a must for these shoots because often the icing ends up on little toes as well as hands and face.  Some photographers will even take pictures of just the mess after the baby has been taken away to get cleaned up.  

Careful planning of theme, cake smash outfits, cake, and location will help the shoot run more smoothly. Keep your baby’s personality and schedule in mind when deciding a time for the photos. Remember, the baby is the star of the shoot and a happy baby will make even more adorable messy pictures.