Planning a Cake Smash Photoshoot? Checkout these Essential Tips (2021)

We’ve covered it all for your baby’s cake smash photography session - From tips on ordering the best cake to selecting the perfect photographer and more.

To someone entirely unfamiliar with the concept, the idea of a cake smash photography may seem weird, to say the least. After all, why would you order a beautiful cake, dress up a 12-month old…and then take numerous photos of the child destroying the sweet delicacy, getting all messy?

However, the fact is solid: cake smashes are getting increasingly popular, bringing families together in a unique, fun and memorable way.

Today we have prepared a practical and a comprehensive guide with these essential cake smash photography tips for making the most of your baby’s cake smash! From ordering the best cake for the shoot to the cake smash outfit and props to managing your baby’s behavior during the shoot, we’ve covered it all so your baby can smash it.

So when should you do a cake smash photoshoot?

Cake Smash Photography - Shutterturf

Typically, the cake smash photography session is done around the baby’s first Birthday, and the photos are then used to adorn party invitations or let family and friends know about important developmental milestones (not to mention the hilariously embarrassing opportunities for when the kid grows up).

Before that age, there wouldn’t be much use in offering the little one cake, as they wouldn’t necessarily show any interest. On the contrary, at 12 months, a sudden rush of sweetness is often the first time the child can consume as much cake as they want, or better still – do whatever they want with it. From face painting into it to throwing the bits and pieces around like there’s no tomorrow, the possibilities are endless!

Why do a cake smash for the 1st birthday?

Cake Smash Photography

First birthdays are as much a celebration of the parents as the baby. One year of dirty diapers and late nights survived. One year of all the stress and the love, the giggles and the tears… survived. Oftentimes, it surely feels as though the year will never end… and other times as though the year is passing all too quickly. Before long, this same small baby will be all grown up, preparing for life as an adult. Their time as a baby is all too limited.

A cake smash is the perfect commemoration of all that has happened during this year. Many people will have their photoshoot in the weeks before the birthday party, using the resulting images for darling invitation pictures.

Cake smash photoshoots can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like.

If you want a low-stress, low-maintenance cake smash, just choose two or three complementing colors for a theme (when in doubt, turn to your color wheel. Colors across from each other tend to compliment very well.). Dress the little birthday boy or girl in one of these colors, find a cake in complementing colors, and smash away! (Don’t forget the protective plastic or other easily-cleaned surfaces, for your own sanity!) Some cake smash photography studios in Singapore provide the outfits and/or the cake – definitely consider contacting a studio if the lack of stress would make it worth the price.

If you are looking for something more elaborate – go full out. Hire a professional photographer. Order a multi-layered cake in all its oozy goodness. Purchase an all-new outfit (or five) for your little darling – after all, they only have a first birthday once. Choose a theme, whether it be your favorite sports team, a Disney princess, or whatever else you desire. Enjoy it!

Why wait till the 1st birthday for a cake smash photoshoot?

The cake smash may well be your little one’s first introduction to the oozy goodness of cake (even if you decide to go non-sugar and non-dairy for health reasons). Any younger and the babe might not care for it (think of Christmas presents, for example. How often has a baby enjoyed the box more than the gift?). The first birthday seems to be the perfect cut-off age for a cake smash

A mostly-unconsidered advantage of a cake smash photography session for a first birthday (particularly in a studio) is the bathing facilities. Every little one-year-old needs a bath, but this way you can have fun bathing her, knowing that the cake smash mess will be fully cleaned… by someone else, for once.

We 100% recommend a cake smash photography session for your little one’s first birthday.

Picking a theme for your photoshoot

  • A theme doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to characters, eras or anything like that: sometimes you may choose to simply pick a few colors that go well together and go from there!
  • Sometimes, the surroundings themselves make for a great theme, offering stunning backdrops. For instance, an outdoor shoot calls for all things natural and bright, such as flowers, animals and so on.
  • Of course, when it comes to character or animal themes, you have plenty of exciting options limited only by your imagination! Some of the most popular themes for girls include Unicorn, Mermaid, Princess, or Disney characters. Boys generally like being sent into space, playing with cars, as well as being surrounded by famous superheroes. And remember – there are no truly “boy” or “girl” themes – just pick something your little one is most excited about to put a smile on their little face.

According to a cake smash photography expert, Steph Donaher, some of the best color combinations to consider for themes include:

  • Pink/Yellow/Blue/White
  • Gold/Red/Black
  • Navy/Silver
  • Navy/Pink
  • Navy/Turquoise/Blue
  • Purple/Orange/Turquoise
  • Grey/Orange/Blue
  • Black/Gold
  • Navy/Gold
  • Black/Pink/Gold

Which cake would be ideal for the shoot? Here are some tips

  • There are pretty much only two colors to avoid when it comes to picking the cake: first, many shades of brown look like poo, so chocolate sponge and cream aren’t the best choices. In addition, red looks a bit creepy resembling blood, so avoid it as well – unless you’re going for Halloween vibes.
  • Ultimately, if all else fails, resort to a white cake with colorful sprinkles as it’s the safest bet, albeit not the most creative.
  • Remember: the cake is there to be destroyed! Don’t go overboard with expensive creations – some experienced photographers say that store-bought sponge decorated at home with bright toppings works best.
  • Speaking of decorations, avoid using fondant since it’s hard for the kids to deal with! As a result, your child will either lose interest or make much less mess than intended. Instead, use brightly colored buttercream, or even whipped heavy cream, with sprinkles and other edible bits on top.
  • Another tip is to leave the cake out of the fridge for about 15-30 mins, so the icing softens. Don’t leave it out for too long though – food poisoning isn’t fun.

But remember … Safety first!

Always consider potential allergens to avoid dangerous adverse reactions. Some babies are allergic to one or more common cake ingredients, such as wheat, eggs, and nuts. In addition, suddenly consuming too much sugar can send a baby into an anxious sugar rush – so all things considered, pick a recipe wisely.

Cake Smash Outfit for Boys

Once you have decided on a cake smash photoshoot, there are still many factors to be considered. Indoors photoshoot or outdoors? White cake, blue cake, green cake? Professionally-decorated cake or DIY?
Let us start off at the very beginning – the baby’s outfit.

Here are several cake smash outfit ideas for boys.

  • Pick an outfit that can be stained. The last thing you want to do is dress your little man in a family heirloom and then have it ruined after a single photograph. Consider purchasing something completely new, or even second-hand so as not to ruin any of his existing clothing.
  • Find something cute but inexpensive. Once again, it could very well be stained during the cake smash. You want to find something that won’t look frumpy in the pictures but also will not put you into debt! (Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay tend to be good options.)
  • Choose colors that complement or match the colors of the cake. It’s time to go back to elementary art class – look at the color wheel. If your cake will be purple, consider a yellow, orange, or light blue outfit. If the cake or props will be pink, go for a light green or sky-blue outfit.
  • Photographers recommend ruffles, tulle, ribbon or lace.
  • Avoid dark colors or bright white; they do not show up well on camera.
  • Some options specifically for boys – a diaper cover, suspenders, a bow tie, and/or a cute hat is absolutely adorable.

Enjoy the process! These pictures with your little cowboy – or Buzz Lightyear, or perhaps football quarterback – will be a beautiful memory long after his attention is turned to more grown-up things.

Cake Smash Outfits for Girls

Cake smash shoots can be an absolute joy. This is the perfect time to celebrate your sweet little one’s first, event-filled year of life – and your survival.

First, the most crucial step – the outfit. Here are some guidelines for choosing an outfit for your little princess’s cake smash.

  • Once again, choose an outfit that will not stain easily – or at least one that you will not mind discarding later. Certain icing colors stain clothing easily.
  • Find something cute but inexpensive. The definition of cute is up to you! Traditionally, little-girl photoshoots involve pink frills and princess costumes, but it’s up to you! Maybe you want your baby girl in a jersey and tiny little cleats. The emphasis being on inexpensive – after all, you have many more birthdays to celebrate with this little one.
  • Photographers recommend accessories like headbands, necklaces, and cute shoes for some fun detail in your picture.
  • Sandals are adorable! Consider sandals.
  • Don’t hesitate to dress her up in a diaper. It’s the ultimate, low-budget form of clothing, quickly switched out for another. After all, you are already changing her diaper several times a day!

Whatever you do, enjoy the process. It is easy to get caught up in all the details of the photoshoot, from researching the photographer to purchasing the cake (or DIY-ing it), from the location to the theme. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and enjoy the process. These pictures will be a memory for years to come.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cake Smash Photoshoot

A cake smash session is most definitely a beautiful mess. With cake and icing everywhere, props and even the walls can be covered. Some recommend outdoor photoshoots for an extra dash of playfulness and – you guessed it – a much easier cleanup process. However, both indoor and outdoor cake smash photoshoots have their advantages and disadvantages.

Outdoors:
Pros:

  • One pro of outdoor cake smash shoots is the ease of cleanup, whether it be via a hose, wet wipes, paper towels or something else. Even better if the venue you choose for your photos has a kiddie pool – even the cleanup can be fun!
  • Outdoor cake smash photography can be more playful and fun.
  • A third pro – minimal props! With all the beauty of the outdoors, props are mostly unnecessary.

Cons:

  • The weather and sunshine limit the schedule. Photos are best taken before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heat in the summer and dehydration and to ensure the overall health of all those involved in the photoshoot.
  • Lighting! Bad weather can affect the brightness and thus the quality of your picture.

Indoors:
Pros:

  • You control what distracts your baby. With an outdoor shoot, depending on your surroundings, the baby may be distracted by a stray bird or the breeze. Indoors, you can choose the setting to avoid distractions.
  • Familiarity with the surroundings may be another point in favor of the indoor cake smash. If you choose to do the shoot in your home, you will be very familiar with your surroundings, including the places that will have the best lighting, fewest distractions, and where the baby is happiest.
  • Indoor cake smash photography sessions in Singaporean studios often include the bathing facilities, as opposed to an outdoor shot in which you will have to clean up your baby with minimal resources.

Cons:

  • Cleanup may be inconvenient. Icing can stain surfaces and get into crevices in the most uncanny of ways.

Indoor shoot or outdoor shoot? In the end, it is your decision. Most professional photographers are willing and able to work with either setting to present you with the highest quality pictures available.

Both indoor and outdoor cake smash photography shoots have their pros and their cons. The best choice will depend on your situation, your baby on any given day, and your preferences!

Getting ready for the cake smash photography shoot

Cake Smash Photography

There are quite a few things to keep in mind to ensure the cake smash photography shoot goes as effortlessly as possible. Here are some tips for your checklist:

  • Things will absolutely get messy, so be ready to clean up afterwards (unless you’re hiring a complete package that includes cleaning)! Pack wisely and have plenty of wet wipes, napkins and towels handy on the day of your shoot.
  • Don’t want to ruin the floor? Scout the local handyman store for some cheap cut-outs, being that a piece of soft rug or some odd lino. Pick something you can dispose afterwards, or if you’re keen – role up and blast from a garden hose.
  • Alternatively, use some bedsheets as surface protectors/backdrops.
  • Avoid going overboard with the decorations! It’s tempting to fill up the space with toys, props and balloons, but this can be very distracting. First, you want your baby to be the focus of the photos. But also, what if instead of smashing a cake your child will suddenly decide to play with something else, leaving you waiting for hours before you can even get started? Play it safe and don’t overload the location.
  • Remember that your child’s clothing may be completely ruined, so don’t necessarily put them in the fanciest possible outfit. Besides, cake smudges often look best on plain clothing.
  • Unless you really want to, it’s generally not the best look to have your child in obvious disposable nappies. If you must use them, get a nappy cover to put on top for a better look.

How to manage the baby’s behavior during the cake smash photoshoot

Cake Smash Photography - Shutterturf
  • Remember that the little one has no idea that you expect them to smash the cake – so don’t be alarmed or surprised if they don’t dig in straight away! Add the unfamiliar surroundings and a weird bunch of suspiciously happy adults, and you have a recipe for a tantrum. To partially avoid these issues, it’s sometimes recommended to practice the session at home – with a cupcake, for example. Extra bonus points if you decorate it in a manner similar to the planned cake! In addition, trying out a small treat first helps catch any allergies you may not have been aware of, so it can also be a safety tip.
  • Give gentle encouragement if required! Some babies are quite cautious about ruining things, so you might have to explicitly let them know it’s ok to ruin the icing and play with the cake. And once they’ve started, they’ll probably be unstoppable!
  • To put the little one’s mind at ease, try distracting them by getting them to show you a skill! When in the right mood, most toddlers are happy to be little crowd pleasers, whether it’s by striking a pose, singing a song or blowing a kiss. Cute!
  • Your best bet at avoiding tears and tantrums is keeping the session short and sweet. Getting the little one’s attention for anything over 40 minutes can be problematic, so plan for this timeframe and go from there (as miracles do happen, especially when cake is involved). Aim to get the main shots within the first 20 minutes for the ultimate peace of mind.
  • Prepare for the worst. Kids are unpredictable, and sometimes you just can’t get them onboard. Be mentally prepared to reschedule the cake smash photography shoot if this happens, and don’t get mad at the little one. Remember: they have no idea what’s going on, so your negative emotions will only add to the confusion, decreases the chances for a successful second attempt in the near future.

And finally ….Tips for hiring a professional photographer

Cake Smash Photography

It’s totally possible to DIY a cake smash photography shoot – however, hiring a professional photographer ensures the best possible results (and an extra pair of helping hands…and fancy equipment…lots of stuff, really).

The following tips will help you pick the best photographer for your upcoming cake smash photoshoot:

  • Do your research – and then do it again. Before approaching a few shortlisted photographers for quotes and consultations, you need to form a clear idea if what your budget is, and what quality/inclusions/extras you’re likely to get for it. From reviewing their website and social media to diving into the comments under their posts, you want to find extensive evidence of great personal skills and awesome work quality.
  • Don’t be cheap. It can be tempting to hire someone who offers low prices – but chances are this person is a hobbyist at best. If the money is tight, you might be better off going the DIY route or waiting another year to take the photos.
  • Don’t be shy and ask about relevant experience. Someone might be a brilliant landscape photographer, but they aren’t necessarily great at taming screaming, cake-stained toddlers! Training, experience or a combination of both all matter when picking a photographer.
  • Is an assistant available for the shoot? Although not necessary (and likely to increase the price), an assistant does help provide additional support for the child, as well as streamlining the process by providing an extra pair of hands.
  • What are the photoshoot arrangements, e.g. is there a studio for you to come into, do they have props available, what kind of equipment they have, will the baby be comfortable in the proposed setting, and so on.
  • What are the cancellation and rescheduling policy? As mentioned above, babies are largely unpredictable – so you need to know what happens in case of a sudden cancellation. Will you lose your bond – or even an entire session fee? Are there fees for rescheduling? Ask everything and make notes to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • Are there extra charges to include more people (i.e. parents or siblings)? Is it possible to combine 2 shoots in a single time slot, in case another cake-smashing toddler wants to join in the fun?
  • After the photos are released, what are the usage right and permissions? Can you share raw/unedited photos on social media whilst waiting on the edits, and if so, what are the conditions?

Conclusion

A cake smash session can be best described as a beautiful mess! Plan everything according to the tips above, but don’t forget to breathe, relax, and fully embrace the fun and chaotic nature of the shoot. Watch your little one destroying the cake and imagine all the precious memories to come – many moments to cherish and remember!

Hope you enjoyed our tips, tricks and suggestions for the best possible cake smash shoot one can have. Can’t wait to see your beautiful images! We have also written a detailed article on Newborn photography guide, so if your baby is still under 6 months, you may find that helpful. Further, we have compiled a list of top photo studios in Singapore with all their contact details so if you are looking for photo studio, this list could be helpful.

Further, if you are in Singapore and are interested in a cake smash photoshoot session, do check out our list of best cake smash photographers in Singapore with contact info and reviews so choose the one that would work best for you.

Did you find our cake smash photography list comprehensive? What else do you think we could add? Give it a share if you love it, or put in a comment on how to could make it even better. Would love to hear your comments.

16 Comments

  1. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of cake smash photography until a friend recently sent me a birthday invitation for his one year old daughter. I wish i could have been there for the shoot, he said it was hilarious! Evidently it took Sarah several minutes before she realized that she was supposed to smash the cake. But after much encouragement, she ended up covered in cake and sitting in the smashed cake.
    These are some great tips and I’m sure a lot of potential cake smash photography parents will appreciate the helpful tips.

  2. I have never heard of doing a cake smash photoshoot before but it seems like a really fun idea! The example photos are really cute and it looks like something the kid would also enjoy, I mean who hasn’t looked at a perfect cake and wondered how fun it would be to destroy it?

  3. I actually had one of these when I was a kid, way back before they were popular! Back then it was just me with a cake and my mom with an old camera, but the pictures were still pretty cute! Still, I think this is pretty adorable. As far as the tips for cake smash photography, I’d definitely agree that you need to keep it short and sweet! Most babies don’t like sitting still, and I know some who hate getting messy too!

  4. I love this idea! I’ve seen a couple of other parents post to FaceBook with similar photos, but have never really thought about doing one for myself. Once my baby turns one, we’re definitely doing a cake smash. Looks like so much fun!

  5. I’m so surprised that more parents like me haven’t done this yet! This is the first time that I’ve seen this done. Going to convince my friends to have one big cake smashing party for my son’s 1st. Thanks so much for the idea!

  6. I’m completely new to this whole baby photography thing. Do you suggest I offer to my friends and family that I test out my cake smashing photography with their kids first? I don’t just want to throw myself into it. What if I’m not any good?

    • Hi Jennifer…Follow the tips here and you should be good. Honestly, photographing babies can be a bit tricky and challenging for cake smash is because it totally depends on their mood of whether they want to eat the cake, smash the cake or just not go near the cake. That said, if you are new to this and want to do this professionally, we totally agree with you that you should try it on friends and family first. Once you have 2-3 cake smash sessions under your belt, you will be more confident. All the best!!

  7. Oh wow, this is a lot different from when I was a kid and they just sat me in front of the cake in my parents’ garage and let me go nuts, haha! I have to admit I do love the little outfits, especially the lacy little girl ones. I had never thought about the benefits of having a cake smash done by a photographer, though…I’ve always thought I’d probably avoid doing one, just because of the giant mess, and I’m pretty psyched about the idea of someone else cleaning it up, haha!

    The suggestion of getting a storebought cake with bright decorations is also something I’ve been planning to do for a while. A cake you make and ice yourself from a box mix could end up being even cheaper!

  8. Great tips and thanks for the color combinations and the outfit recommendations they are so adorable and super pretty. I can’t wait to get pictures made in one of them as I know it will be absolutely perfect for my daughter’s smash cake photos.

  9. My little angel just turned ONE December 3rd and we celebrated her first birthday with a beautiful pink and colorful cake which she managed to smash really well after much trouble with getting her in the mood. The photos turned out to be really good and adorable and the best among the others we took at the park. This blog was helpful with some tips. Thank you

    • Great to hear that Lisa! Do let us know your suggestions on how we could make this article even better 🙂

      • That’s a brilliant article covering everything about the big day for the baby! I’m so disappointed that I just red after a disastrous experience with our cake smash. We hired a photographer that supposed to have beluínas reviews but didn’t turn as anything nice and I will be very surprised if we will end up with good photos. This way, we have decided to have another one once with another professional that I know that will do a brilliant job, anyway, we will move on. Thanks again for all the information

        • Thank you and we are very sorry for your experience. Do let us know if we add some more points to make the post even more informative so others can be better prepared and avoid having a bad experience.

    • Hi Klinik. I must confess that I did not know what “Toller Artikel…” meant so I looked it up. The translation came up as “Thanks for the great article!” so Thank you so much. Glad you like the article 🙂

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