What is one of the latest trends for celebrating your baby’s first birthday? Why by letting them eat cake of course, all while being photographed as they smash, smear, and feast on it. It seems that South Africa has finally caught on to this trend (it’s very big overseas!) and I have already done quite a few of these sessions since I began offering them.
I always have a few tips that I share with parents before the session, which I have learned along the way. I recently found an article on a Canadian photographer’s site that sums it up perfectly, so here it is, shared with permission from Obleek Photography.
1. Don’t assume they will dive right in
All parents hope that their little one will dive in and make a mess of the cake. That’s what you are paying for! But that doesn’t always happen and that’s okay. Not every child wants to dive right in and make a mess no matter what tricks we try. It’s important to know that even if they don’t turn their cake into a gooey pile of crumbs, I am still able to catch fun images of them poking at it or daintily picking of bits of icing or decorations. Sometimes we may need to strategically place a little icing to help things along, or other times mom or dad may have to get involved in the pictures themselves.
Here’s an image from a session where the girl didn’t want to even look at the cake, literally at times she would cry when it came out the box! We got a few images with her and the cake, but mostly on her own… but after all of that, look how cute she looks…
It’s also a good idea to bring along a favourite toy and some snacks in case your little one needs some encouraging. I have had a few breaks in the middle of smash sessions, for a milk top-ups and snacks… here’s a favourite one of a mama soothing her baby during the session:
2. Come prepared for one heck of a mess
One thing parents don’t often realize is that they too will likely become covered in cake and icing during the session (picture your little miss or mister running/crawling straight towards you with icing coated hands), so a change of clothes for everyone, not just the birthday boy or girl, is sometimes a good idea. Definitely some wet-wipes and even a towel are good options to bring.
3. Cake and icing choices matter
When picking out your own cake or making one to bring to a smash session, I suggest choosing a white cake over chocolate or red velvet. Bright or pastel covered icing seems to photograph better than plain white or chocolate, with the exception of red. Why you ask? Well, let’s just say that when chocolate or red icing is smeared everywhere (and it usually will be during a cake smash session) it can resemble things less appetizing and at first glance people may not realize that what your son or daughter is covered in is actually cake. Gross, right? I have also found that creamier icing and less dense cakes are better for smashing. Fondant and really stiff icing can make it harder for them to get messy. If your cake is going to be refrigerated before the session, I suggest letting it sit out about a half hour before leaving for the cake smash session so the icing is less stiff.
4. Watch out for allergens
Offering your child a cake during their session that has ingredients they have never had before isn’t always a great idea (especially the icing which contains food colouring). I have had a mom bake her own cake for her daughter’s cash, because of this very thing… her daughter had allergies to certain ingredients. If you are at all concerned about allergies, less is more when it comes to the colour of your icing and it is a good idea to ask your doctor about having some infant/children’s allergy medication on hand just in case. This is just something to keep in mind.
5. Customize your session
I encourage my clients to make the cake smash session their own. I have some props and accessories we can use, and love to get involved helping you with items that will go with the colour scheme you may have in mind, and I am always willing to work with your own props and decor as well. I have had people bring balloons, chalkboards, custom banners, tutus, you name it. You can contact me any time to discuss what I have on hand, or ideas we can come up with for your unique session.
6. Book in advance
Book your session early so that you get the date you want. Some parents want their cake smash pictures ready for their child’s actual birthday to print out and display, and in that case, the session should be done at least 2 weeks before the event (sometimes more depending on the season). Some parents want to use the images in the child’s birthday invitation, which would mean we need to have the session in time for you to send out the party invite.
Here is an email invitation we did for Nalu’s first birthday using her images…
If you are considering booking a cake smash session, I hope you found this article helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts below.
To end off, here is a sneak peek from yesterday’s cake smash session with sweet Ndalo. (I worked with her mom on the decor and made the streamer backdrop and party hat to suit the cake and balloon colours… Didn’t it look cute?)
Happy smashing everyone! P.x