Cake Smash is the latest fad in baby shoot trends. It gained popularity in Western countries just a few years ago and is still a novel concept in our country. However thanks to social media, Pinterest & a bandwagon of young photographers that we get to see new parents interested in cake smash photos of their babies while you might hear a lot of desi elders complain that its such a ‘paison ka ziyaa’ (waste of money) :p
But WHAT exactly is the Cake Smash session all about??
Simply put, you let your baby experience their first taste of cake & have fun with it (and their first green signal to make a mess openly :p) Cake is placed in front of baby and they SMASH it! And you capture it!
The purpose is to CELEBRATE.……..and preserve the memories of that one year milestone in a fun manner.
A few months back when our little one was turning ONE, we decided ‘against’ going for a birthday bash due to our personal preferences. We chose to do a charity instead to celebrate our joy ‘by giving’, and hope to do the same in the long run too.
But in order to preserve the memories of our li’l one turning ONE, we decided to have her mini photo shoot done, ‘in a budget’ of course. A part of the mini shoot was the famous CAKE SMASH session, and like any parent we were pretty apprehensive about how it might end up being a complete disaster. Well, frankly speaking, the first learning we got out of our hands-on experience with a cake smashing session was that Pinterest makes everything look sooo easy by telling you a half story only. You learn about the challenges only when you have started on a project. Another thing that we noticed was that most of the cake smashing projects you find on Pinterest are mostly shared by photographers in an attempt to attract clients, and there are very few versions coming from the PARENTS themselves telling their side of the story.
Because of it being a new concept here in our country, we tried to go out of the way to be fully prepared, and learned a few ‘dos’ & ‘donts’ with our practical example only. Upon a few people’s request, we decided to share some essential tips & tricks with you guys to help you plan your baby’s cake smash session & turn it into a great memory.
Who will take the photos?
You are putting in soooo much efforts into stuff like the outfit, props, cake, background etc, and investing sooo much energy, time & hard work, and there is NO WAY that you end up messing with the MOST IMPORTANT PART.
You can do the shoot yourself if you own a good DSLR with a little effort & planning or hire a professional photographer.…..whichever option you choose, plan it well in advance as everything else will eventually revolve around it. DIY adds that personal touch to your project, but since you will have to look into so many other details, it is always a great idea to outsource this task. You can ask a friend who is good in photography or hire a professional photographer. We would recommend a professional since cake smashing shoots usually last only about 10-15 minutes and you don’t want to have somebody amateur experimenting with the camera in such a short time span. Try to find a good deal, somebody who could help you with the props or the set-up and won’t charge a fortune.
HAVE A HELPING HAND
You can NOT do it alone, especially if you plan to be behind the camera. Have someone to help you.
If a family member or friend is helping you out in taking the pictures or arranging the set-up, please choose somebody that you can COMPLETELY TRUST in matching your zeal & enthusiasm about this session (we learned the down side of this the hard way :/ ) Many desi folks are still not aware about the dynamics of cake smashing sessions. Ensuring that they are well informed about what can go right or wrong is a safe bet.
On the flip side, having TOO MANY people around can totally distract your baby, so limit it to mama, baba and perhaps a 3rd very close person who your baby is REALLY fond off.
We decided on an outdoor shoot on the recommendation of our photographer, which is why we kept the props to bare minimal. Outdoor shoots give you more chance to focus on the forefront (baby and cake) instead of the background and the result comes out very crisp and natural. It is especially a nice option if you want a great shoot on budget.
With a little bit of creative input, you can do a great indoor shoot, but you will need to work on the background, props, light adjustment etc.
A MUST TO REMEMBER: If you choose outdoors, ensure the location is VERY close to your house, preferably your lawn, a nearby park or backyard. Convince your photographer completely into that. Chances are that he/ she will tell you ‘an ideal location’ where they do all the outdoor shoots. If its not near your house do NOT give in to any other option (Sadly, we learned THIS too the hard way 🙂 ) With an year old, you can not afford any inconvenience and the most comfortable location for your baby is near your house only.
CHOOSE THE HAPPIEST TIME OF THE DAY
Perhaps the most important thing to take care of while planning the Cake smashing session…..provided you want to look at one grumpy grouchy baby staring at the birthday cake! 😀
One year olds usually nap twice a day, so choose your time for the shoot accordingly and make sure their tummies are happy too. Well rested & well fed one year olds are usually the happiest.
Best times we would suggest are either early in the morning or right after the afternoon nap. Incidentally, these happen to be the best timings for photography too.
CHEER ‘EM UP
Baby + Cake = NOT ALWAYS A SMASH
Babies are more cautious with new textures and tastes. While Pinterest does tell us that babies straight away plant their face into the cake, DON’T expect your baby to dive into the cake immediately. As a matter of fact, they might not even touch it.
Tip: BUT with a little bit of encouragement, you can get the balls rolling. One simple trick is to stick your own finger into the cake and make them try it first. Once they know the taste, they will be comfortable digging in.
BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR STRATEGIES
During the shoot.
You know your baby the best. Think what strategies can work best for your baby and to engage them.
Tip: If there is a certain toy they are happy to see, you can keep that along. Hide their favorite food items on the cake so they get tempted to touch the cake. With our girl, we knew that she prefers eating with a spoon instead of hands. When she refused to touch the cake, we introduced the spoon and VIOLA! that’s where the session took a kick off 🙂
A basic cake with a whipped cream or butter cream frosting is ideal for cake smashing. You don’t have to go over the board with a cake that has to be smashed. It will be more about HOW the cake looks like, than the taste of course. Cream frostings are soooper easy to dig into and smash very easily.
Tip: NO to FONDANT frostings which are hard to break. Try to get a soooper cheap 2 pound cake with heavy frosting. A cute cupcake can do the job perfectly too.
We got a basic chocolate mousse 2 pound cake with white butter cream frosting and sprinklers on top from Tehzeeb Bakers for Rs 500 ONLY. You might want to choose a safe cost effective bakery, whose cake you wouldn’t mind your one year old to be devouring.
SCHEDULE BEFORE THE ACTUAL BIRTHDAY
Our genuine advise is to keep the cake smash session separate from the birthday party (if you are celebrating). You can NOT do sooo much with a one year old in a day, provided you are perfectly ok with your baby host to look all greasy and messy from the cake smash, or too tired to smash the cake after the party. Also, TOO much guest crowd can distract him at the birthday venue, and you too will be pre-occupied to give it your best shot.
Tip: It is TOTALLY OK to cake smash some other day, preferably a few days before their actual birthday.
DON’T EXPECT A PERFECT RESULT
Because you kill the whole purpose of cake smash if you expect the outcome to be ‘very’ neat & perfect. Cake smash = Obviously very MESSY
Also, Let it be as candid and unstructured as possible. Keep your expectations fairly low. Your little one might act completely sober in front of that cake and wouldn’t want to do anything, till you give them a little ‘push’. They might retaliate, show tantrums & cry out loud. Be prepared to cheer them up & once they get back into the groove, let the session be very candid. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get THAT perfect picture of cake-diving. The whole purpose is the ‘experience’ you want to capture.
CAPTURE DIFFERENT ANGLES
Even if your baby doesn’t look very excited upon seeing the cake and doesn’t look very happy smashing the cake, you can still make the shoot come out well by capturing your baby from different angles.
PLAN ‘WELL’ IN ADVANCE
Cake smash (or ANYTHING related to a one year old for that matter) is NOT what you can wake up one morning and decide to do there & then. You need to have everything figured out well in advance, like theme, props, photographer, location, time of the day etc etc. Make sure everything is chalked down and have a contingency plan too.
It will have a huge impact on how your pictures turn out to be. Choose your colors carefully.
Tip: If you are going for lighter tones of outfit or cake, you might want to add a ‘pop-up’ color somewhere, perhaps some colorful balloons or a candle?
MAKE EVERYTHING READY BEFORE YOU BRING THE BABY
Oh yes, their attention spans are sooo short. With not much around to keep them busy, and their newly found crawling or walking skills, you will have to ensure you bring them ONLY when all your set up is ABSOLUTELY READY.
Needless to mention, NOTHING FANCY!
Cake smashes are usually done by keeping baby WITHOUT CLOTHES or in a nappy, diaper or tutu. We made a DIY tutu skirt for our girl. No point spending a huge amount on something which will be smeared with cake.
If you are shooting outdoors, you can leave the background empty and blurry with more focus on the forefront.
For indoor shoots, you can use colorful fabric or paper, buntings, streamers, crepe paper/ tissue flowers or simply some balloons.
Tip: Do NOT fret over the background if you do not have a lots of resources or time at hand. The focus of cake smash has to be your baby and the cake.
CLEAN UP PLAN
Cake Smashing is messier than you think, especially if your baby did it just right 😀
Tip: You need following things ready at your disposal for cleaning up: Baby wipes, big size tissue napkins, a trash bag to discard all the mess in case of an outdoor shoot, clean towel, a bottle of water to give a quick rinse, a bath tub ready for an indoor shoot etc.
CELEBRATE & HAVE FUN
Last but NOT THE LEAST, the most important thing to remember is to CELEBRATE & HAVE FUN in those moments with your baby.
How did your cake smash session go? How did your baby respond eventually? Do let us know if something else worked magic for you 🙂