Our youngest guy turned ONE this month! I love professional first birthday cake smash photos, but they can be quite expensive (usually ranging $100-$300 on the LOW end) and difficult to time around baby’s nap time. I had one done with our oldest child on his first birthday, but the only appointment was at nap time, he wasn’t into it, didn’t have any interest in smashing the cake, and the photographer kept pressuring me to purchase extra luxury photo items afterward that I didn’t want and weren’t within my budget (I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a splurge to even hire someone to photograph a baby smashing a cake!). She was very nice, the photos were very nice, but I did feel I went overboard unnecessarily. So when each of our daughters turned one, I photographed them myself, at a time of day when they would enjoy it most, and the natural light was ideal. They still did not smash the cake on their own! I was glad I was able to capture some sweet moments of their birthdays without the spending guilt.
Fast forward to baby number four. This kid is into EVERYTHING! A MESSY guy! He loved this. He smashed into that cake like it was his job. He liked feeling the texture, painted the floor with the frosting, and I eventually had to take it away because I’m the sugar police and I didn’t actually expect him to dig in like that! He had so much fun and I’m glad I caught it on camera. We cleaned him up afterward and snapped some sweet photos of him with our little back drop still (sort of) in place.
I originally had an adorable theme planned, but with our house being packed up for our overseas move a few days after, I decided to just pick a color scheme and use things I already had handy for a simple background. In fact, we had so much going on that I had a few kitchen conundrums making his little cake amidst managing kids, work, and moving. I burnt the first one (which I NEVER do), and totally messed up the ratios on my swiss merengue buttercream to the point of having to toss it. The cake pictured was iced with help from a three year old. So, there you go. Amateur DIY at its finest!
What you need for a cake smash:
- A small cake to smash- In the US, most grocery store bakeries give you a free smash cake for your little one’s first birthday. Just ask if they do smash cakes, and they’ll likely tell you about the free cake. For the ones I did myself, I used this Wilton Five Pan 6″ set for the perfect sized cake. I use a recipe for a classic 8″ cake and it works out just right.
- A backdrop- I had wooden floors and a plain wall and I liked that (I’m all about less work!). Some people put faux wood down on carpet or against the wall, which is a great option.
- Decorations for your theme- Balloons on the floor or inflated with helium on ribbon short enough to be seen with baby sitting are always a nice idea. Some sort of party bunting in the background is also pretty. Other great options are number balloons, or hanging wooden letters. *It’s a good plan to either use a color palette of three colors or commit to brights, neutrals, or pastels.
- A cloth diaper or diaper cover for the smashing- It looks nicer than a disposable diaper. One of our daughters wore a tutu, the other wore a simple cloth swim diaper. Both of our boys were in cloth with a bright colored cover. You could of course keep them fully clothed, but the frosting might stain their nice threads.
- An outfit for before or after- You are going to want some photos of them without a frosted face!
- A decent camera- Most bloggers I know use a Canon Rebel. If you like taking photos but aren’t planning on getting into photography or figuring out the learning curve, this is an affordable, user-friendly option. Of course, I’m an amateur, so that’s amateur advice. Do what you want with it!
- Light reflector boards- AKA posterboard covered tightly in aluminum foil. This is especially important if you live in a place that doesn’t get much sun (like here in Berlin, Germany!).
- A sunny spot in your home- I shot this one in my girl’s room at 10:00 AM when the light was best in that part of the house. You could even do it outdoors if you have a nice area to do it in.
- A cute subject- Obviously, you need your little model!
If, like me, you are vertically challenged, you may also wish to have a stool to stand on for overhead shots.
*TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR SET-UP AND CAKE BEFOREHAND! Once you put your little tyke down, it’s over!
Things escalate quickly!
Things started to become a little less photographable and a little more chaotic from there! We quickly washed him up and took some photos of him all cleaned up and having fun being one!
He quickly lost interest in his toy and began popping balloons and taking our backdrop down! Such a helpful guy.
Start to finish, the actual photo taking lasts about ten minutes! Five minutes while they smash cake, and five minutes while they tear down your props for you!
I hope you enjoyed the post and found it helpful (or at least amusing)!
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