DIY Cake Smash Photo Session

Have you ever heard of a ‘cake smash’ photo session? It is a special and fun event for your child before they turn one. The child is given a cake to eat or smash, and you take pictures of videos as memories. You can set up a beautiful backdrop and decoration to make the space aesthetically pleasing.

If you want your pictures to be done professionally, you can hire a photographer or take the photos yourself.

For the setup, you can go on Pinterest and search for an idea or a theme that you like to get your inspiration going. Instead of ordering a cake, you can make a giant cupcake by purchasing a silicone pan from Amazon for $20.

The instructions with the cupcake pan suggest one box of cake mix is fine, but get another box just in case.

You can use the extra mix for cupcakes if you use two boxes. First, you need to fill the pans above the fill line. The remaining can be for your cupcakes, which can be made later.

When filling the pans, you don’t need to pour the mix to the top since they will rise in the oven. You can cut the pieces to make them flat before putting them together. Due to the larger cake pan size, the top section might need about 40-45 minutes to bake, whereas the bottom typically takes about an hour.

It is very important to let the bottom cool COMPLETELY before taking it out of the pan. If you take it out early, the sides can crack, and you run the risk of it not being able to support the top piece.  

Next, you can pre-colored the frosting (or white) or use food coloring with a Kitchenaid mixer. For most of the frosting colors, the neon color is better. This is the neon box that was used.

*Sugar-free cake mix and sugar-free Cool Whip or whipped cream are alternatives for those hesitant to put a giant cake in front of a little one.

If you are allergic to pink frosting, you can use beet juice. You can also use alternatives if you have someone allergic to a specific ingredient.

Once the baking is out of the way. It’s time to figure out the backdrop. To have phenomenal photos, you want an area with great natural lighting and with fewer things around. You want to be able to move and set up everything without knocking any of your stuff down.

For the backdrop, you can try fabric, wrapping paper, tablecloth, or anything that fits your preferences. Wrapping paper tends to be the better option.

As for the balloons, you can use the regular ones at Walmart or Dollar store. Beware that the cheap balloons only last for 8-10 hours. If you buy them the night before, you risk flat, sinking balloons when it comes to photo time.

You can blow them up and stick them to the wall, but your child could also take them off the backdrop and might end up ruining it.

Helium really works best for most people since you can tape the balloon string to the floor or tie it to something heavy like a balloon anchor or weight.

One item that you should rely on is an external flash. I did my first shoot with a Canon Xsi DSLR. I use the internal pop-up flash as infrequently as possible.

I used an external flash (Canon 430ex ii Speedlite picked up for $80 on eBay). If you don’t have an external flash, take some practice shots at various times of the day in a location where there is ample natural light to see what time would work best for lighting with no shadows, nasty sun glares, etc.

Tips for the Day of Shoot:

  • Frost the cake shortly before the shoot. If you have to do it the night before, take it out of the fridge at least an hour before the shoot. You want room-temperature frosting, so it’ll make a better mess.
  • Have someone assist you in tapping the wrapping paper. Doing it yourself, you’re more likely to get some areas that aren’t entirely smooth.
  • Don’t wear anything you don’t want to get dirty because you’ll mostly get dirty from the cake.
  • Check the time that your local party store opens so you know when to start the shoot.
  • Bring the wrapping paper you’ll use for the backdrop to the party store so you can coordinate the balloons.
  • Make sure you have a snack that your child loves at hand. Some kids tend to dive right in, while others are hesitant. If you stick some puffs or a snack of choice on the back of the cake, this usually get the child to grab the snack, which gets lost in frosting and still gives you the end photo you’re aiming for.
  • Don’t forget to get a photo of the “aftermath.”

Total cost: $29.99 (plus ALL rights to every photo taken!)

  • Wrapping paper= $1.99
  • Helium balloons= $4
  • Cake mix & frosting= $4
  • Cake pan = $20

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock