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DIY Cake Smash


Happy Birthday, Baby!! Everyone loves a baby’s first birthday, right? How better to celebrate than with a cake smash?  Recently, the cake smash photoshoot has become a milestone in itself, capturing this special moment is something anyone can do at home.  All it takes is a baby, a cake, and a little patience…well maybe a little more than a little patience. LOL

The Perfect Location

It’s all about the LIGHT! That’s right, whether you choose to do your cake smash indoors or out you have to find the right light.  

For an indoor shoot look for

  • natural light – spaces by windows or doors
  • clutter free area, or somewhere you can easily make clutter free
  • NOT carpet, if your only option is carpet look for a drop cloth or table cloth that you don’t mind getting messy 

For an outdoor shoot look for

  • natural light – watch out for places where the sun is too bright
  • clutter free area, or somewhere you can easily make clutter free
  • a nice grassy spot free of ants/stickers/other outdoor “issues”

For my indoor shoot the light comes in from the front/right side and the left side of my subject. The two light sources provide ample light but I do have to be careful because the front light can sometimes create harsh shadows. This is why I try to only shoot here after 9:30 am.


LESS IS MORE!!  Can I say that again?? Less is more. Going overboard with decorations and using too many bright bold colors can take the focus away from the subject and isn’t that why we are here? By keeping the decorations simple your baby can be the star of the shoot! When considering what decorations you want let me caution you against the use of balloons, especially outdoors.  The balloons often take the baby’s focus off the cake and if you are outside you will be surprised how fast even a well weighted set of balloons can make an exit.

The Cake

For the cake you can order a special cake for the occasion or make one.  For the photos with Ada throughout this blog I used a cake I purchased locally from Tiers of Savannah. I ordered a naked cake and added the flowers myself since I had a specific theme I was going for with the plumerias. If ordering a cake for a baby to smash up isn’t your cup of tea making one from a box mix is also a great idea.  

Your Baby

Obviously you will need a baby for this shoot, lol, but here are a few things to consider when planning.

  • a hungry baby works best, if you feed your baby then take them out to eat cake they might not want anything to do with the cake
  • a baby who has tried cake before will be more likely to eat the cake with enthusiasm 
  • a well rested baby is less likely to stink up your shoot by throwing an “I need a nap” tantrum 
  • don’t plan a cake smash shoot on the birthday party day – that’s a lot of pressure on you and your little one and a stressed out photographer can equal a stressed out baby.

Test Your Set Up/Lighting/Camera Settings BEFORE You Bring Baby In

That’s right, set it all up, do some test shots, make adjustments as needed, THEN bring baby in.  When you set your little one down in front of the cake it’s go time, not hang on, let me fix this setting time. Doing all the set up and test shots before will ensure you are ready to go when you put your baby in front of the cake and you won’t miss a moment! It will also help you remember to get a shot of that great cake before it gets destroyed.

Camera Settings

If at all possible use a “real” camera for your shoot.  It will help you get better results and will give you some options on how you want the photos styled. Your settings will always be a direct result of the external factors like light (or lack thereof) but here are a few guidelines.

  • Shutter Speed – I would suggest no less than 1/320. This will help you catch all the quick movements your baby makes without getting blurry body parts
  • Aperture – For aperture, the lower the number (referred to as wider) the more background blur you may be able to achieve BUT if you go too low you may miss focus on your baby, it depends on how much practice you have.  If you think you can nail the focus at a wider aperture start around f/2.0 but if you’re a little less confident start around f/3.5 to f/4.0. 
  • ISO – choose an ISO number to balance your other settings (ie, choose your ISO last) but keep in mind if you go to high your images may become grainy.  If you’re having to go over 800-1000 you may need to look for a different location to shoot as you might not have enough natural light.

You can always change the settings during your shoot, especially if you are familiar with changing the settings quickly. 

Have FUN!

Always remember to have fun! Get in there and show your little one how to smash the cake and what you are trying to get them to do. If you are having a good time and make this experience a happy one they are more likely to want to join in on the fun!


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meet the photographer jaden

Working on my dream and meeting special families along the way, I believe everyone deserves amazing photographs which capture the moments in life that bring them joy. I photograph families, like yours, who wish they could freeze time, even for just a second, and always remember the special moments of life.

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