Smash Cake Photography is an adorable tradition where parents take their child to smash a sheetcake on or around his or her one year old birthday.  These sessions can be a great addition to the services you provide for your family photography clients because of the creative opportunities they create and their additional revenue potential.  We recently added smash cake photo sessions to our family photography brand, Line and Roots, and in this article, we will go over some of our favorite tips for getting your best shots with smash cakes.

1. Plan Enough Time

smash cake cute

One of the biggest mistakes with any shoot involving small children is setting unrealistic expectations for the duration of the shoot.  In general, plan around 2 hours for the shoot. While the actual shooting portion will be much less, you never know how the baby will feel or behave. Allow for some time to feed the baby, change the baby, or entertain the baby if he or she isn’t giving the camera the expressions you’re looking for.

2. Get Your Basic Shots First

family smash cake photoTake a few pictures before the cake smash, since you never know what your little one might do after they feel that sweet taste of frosting.  Also, the cake will make the outfit and props messy, so the time before the cake smashing is the only opportunity for clean portraits of the family.

3. Make Sure The Cake Is on a Sturdy Surface

Safety is crucial for any smash cake photo session. To make sure that the cake won’t fall, place the cake on a sturdy surface or directly on the ground. If you’re using a cake holder, make sure it’s not too light or flimsy and consider taping it to the floor. Also, consider taping the bottom of the cake to the cake holder. smash cake surface

4. Take photos from a variety of angles to show off the cake’s details

smash cake feet

A few photos of just the cake will help you tell a complete story. But also consider photographing the cake from above, below and each side. You may want to experiment with close up shots of the cake’s topping details like whipped cream or frosting and get some detail shots of the cascading layers.

5. Keep Your Lighting Simple!

smash cake boy blueFor simplicity, we suggest using primarily natural light. This will help you visualize your shadows and give you one less thing to think about then photographing your little one. If you must, bring in a soft, diffused flash and an umbrella, but keep your lighting simple.

6. Stylize Your Shoot

A smash cake photography session with a theme can add a lot of personality and character to the photoshoot. You can use balloons, banners or anything else that fits with the theme.

cake smash photography
Ninja Turtle Themed Cake Smash Photo Session

To choose a theme for your cake smash photography, think about the parent’s interests and the child’s interests.  Think about what colors go well together and what’s available for purchase online or at a local store.  Here are some ideas to get your creativity going:

  • Sports Themes – Basketball, Football, Gymnastics, Etc
  • Collegiate Themes – The college where the parents met, etc
  • TV Show Themes – Ninja Turtles, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Etc
  • Career Themes – Doctor, Judge, Dentist, Fireman
  • Nature Themes – Forests, Beaches, Mountains, Etc

7. Take Close Up Shots of the Hands and Feet

cake smash handsTo add variety to the photo shoot and tell a complete story, take a few close up shots of the baby’s hands and feet.  These details will look great for album spreads, blog entries, social media stories, and more.

8. Don’t Force It – Let the Baby Have Fun!

crying cake smash

If your baby is grumpy or crying, be sure to give him or her a break. Also, crying pictures are often cute and fun as well. The main point is to not have specific expectations, since babies are unpredictable. The best way to make cake smash photography work is by being flexible and thinking creatively about making the most out of the moment.

Smash Cake FAQs

smash cake one years old

Question: What camera settings should I use for my cake smash photography sessions?
Answer: Use the following settings:

  • Shutter Speed – Kids are unpredictable in their movements and won’t hold perfectly still, so be sure to use a fast shutter speed.  Keep your shutter speed at or above 1/200 to capture sharp images without any motion blur.
  • Aperture – Since most smash cake sessions are styled, with backgrounds that are preplanned and perfectly set up, a low aperture isn’t necessary to blur out distracting or unattractive elements.  Your aperture range, depending on your style and the available light will likely range from f/2.8 to f/5.6.  There would be no reason to go above f/5.6.
  • ISO – After setting your shutter speed and aperture, use the appropriate ISO to get to your desired exposure.  Keep your ISO as low as possible to preserve image quality.

Question: How much should I charge for a cake smash photography session?
Answer: Pricing for a smash cake photography session will depend on your pricing model.  Are you a “shoot and burn” photographer, where you deliver a set of the digitals from each shoot, or do you have an In Person Sales (IPS) model, where you charge a sitting fee and then price your prints and digitals separately?  In general, a smash cake session is priced lower than a newborn session.  So, if you charge $750-$1,000 for a “shoot and burn” newborn session, for example, you might charge $400-$600 for a smash cake session.  Many studios price their cake smash sessions similarly to their other child portrait sessions.

Question:  What should I include in my Cake Smash Session Packages
Answer: As mentioned, whether you include the digital files in your smash cake session or not depends on your overall pricing model (Shoot and burn vs IPS).  Beyond that, consider including the sheet cake for your clients’ convenience.  Or offer various referrals for them to easily choose from.  Also, consider including a list of props and backdrops for them to choose from.