Monday, March 23, 2020

Tips for a Successful DIY Cake Smash Photo Shoot

As promised in a recent post about my granddaughter, Harper's first birthday, I'm back to share a few things my daughter, Ashley and I learned doing our own cake smash photo shoot. This was our first ever attempt at anything like this, so we are by no means experts and our pics aren't perfect but we were pretty happy with the results.

I've included some pointers in my notes below.

Create a Backdrop
This can be themed to the birthday but shouldn't be overly busy looking.  Harper's birthday party had a garden tea party theme so I created a floral backdrop.  I hot-glued faux flowers to twine and tied them to faux branches that I attached to a curtain-covered board.

 I also tucked some string lights behind the curtain. Another curtain was placed on the carpet in front of the backdrop.

Simple Props
We did try some shots with larger props but we found these simple pearl necklaces wound up being the best. 

We learned that the more props you have the harder it is to get them all in the shot and to keep them organized if baby starts moving around.

Coordinate Outfit with Backdrop
Some people choose the "no shirt" look for these type of pics but Ashley opted for a pink tutu and simple white onsie for Harper to wear with a coordinating bow for her hair. I like that the tutu was long for her as it added an extra layer of prettiness to the pics. 

You can go fancy with the cake or keep it simple. It looks best if the icing is neutral or coordinates with the backdrop colours and a pedestal cake plate elevates it to baby's level. Since it is going to get smashed, be sure to take a few pics of it ahead of time. Ashley made Harper's cake and kept it simple but for the 'before' pics, I dressed it up a bit with some faux florals.

Trial Run Without the Cake
This was key to our success! We did a trial run of a photo shoot the day before.  We had wanted some pics of Harper in her birthday party dress with a different backdrop I had also made. We quickly realized the lighting wasn't good, there were too many props and we were fighting a cranky baby.

We got a couple of "ok" shots ...

...but we hoped the next day's photo shoot would be better with what we learned from this one.

 When you do your "practice" shoot, you can do it with a few toys or simple props rather than the cake and you don't have to put baby in his/her fancy outfit.

If you can get your pet to cooperate, they make great "props" too!  :)

It was fun just to capture Harper playing.

Lighting is Very Important
Choose a well lit place in your home preferably with lots of natural light (lamps and overhead lighting will give a yellowish look to your pics). We found waiting till later in the morning added to the better quality of light as well.

Plan to do Photo Shoot After Naptime
It goes with saying that a well rested baby is much more cooperative than a tired one. Be sure to have everything set up and ready to go before baby wakes up so you can get started quickly and aren't running around missing the best time to capture those "fresh baby" moments.
Harper was all smiles after her morning nap.

Cell Phone or Camera
Although I use my "fancy" camera for pic taking of tablescapes, I am not used to capturing moving objects so we opted to use a cell phone for the photo shoot with a bit of editing afterwards. (*It's pretty basic but don't forget to clean the lens of your phone/camera!)  Ashley took the pics and Harper's daddy took videos at the same time (videos are wonderful to have as well!).  I hovered nearby to assist if  things were needed or if Harper started moving.

Cake Poke versus Smash
Be prepared for your baby to make his/her own rules for the "cake smash" part of the photo shoot.  Little Harper decided she was just going to 'poke' her cake and eat the icing. It was fun watching how dainty she was with it all.

Get the Family in on the Fun
Don't forget that mom and dad (and siblings if any) should get in on the action

Don't Push It!
When baby's had enough, you'll need to stop and either carry on at a different time or go with the millions of pics you've probably already taken. :) There is no sense in making a cake smash become a "no fun" event!

Photo Editing Really Helps
After the photo shoot, you might want to take advantage of one of the many free editing apps to improve your pics (I use Snapsneed on my phone) and this will make your beautiful captures look even more professional.  You will be able to brighten them and create different areas of focus for any pics that need it.

A cake smash is meant to be enjoyed by all involved so relax and be sure to focus on what is really important - watching your child experience something new at this milestone birthday.  No doubt, you'll also be wondering like we were, where the past year has gone!

Here's a summary of the tips outlined above:  

1.  Create a backdrop
2.  Simple props
3. Coordinate outfit with backdrop
4. Cake should coordinate and be on pedestal
5.  Do a trial run without cake
6.  Lighting is very important
7.  After nap is best time 
8.  Cell phones are fine to use
9.  Baby will do their own kind of "smash"
10. Don't push it 
11.  Edit pics to brighten and enhance
12.  Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting!
I'll be linking this post to these wonderful blog parties:
Home & Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Thursday Favorite Things at Follow the Yellow Brick Home


  1. happy birthday... love the photos. our little one will turn one in under 6 months and I believe we should make it a large event as you did thank for sharing come see us at

  2. Your tips are amazing! And she is just too adorable.

  3. How sweet--- all I could think was my two boys would have been hanging in the flowers, trashing the cake, and been out of the shot-constantly. ...Sigh, most of our photos fo them are their backs or blurs, LOL. Great tips though!

  4. These are such great tips! Taking pictures of babies can be so tricky once they're able to move around. I can't believe you took those on a cell phone, they turned out so good! Blessings, Loni

  5. These shots are great and you have a memorable day or two documented! Taking all the time you took, changing props and outfits resulted in many beautiful photos. I'd love to do something like this when there is ample time over more than a day. Great post.

  6. Lori, this post and your granddaughter are adorable!!! I'm so glad I was browsing through what everyone linked for Share Your Style this week; I am happy to feature your post next week at SYS #250. <3

    Hope your family is well and that you have a great weekend,
    Virtual hugs,
    Barb :)


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