Hi, I’m Nicky party expert at The Party Noodles, and this weekend I had an incredibly special Birthday to plan, my little boy’s 1st birthday!
Now I had intended to book a professional photographer to shoot the pics but unfortunately due to Lockdown, our plans got canceled.
But that wasn’t going to stop me, I decided I still wanted to mark the special occasion with a cake smash but I’d have to DIY it at home…
However, this is the first time I’ve planned a cake smash so I thought I’d share with you some Do’s & Don’ts I learned along the way for your very own DIY Cake Smash photo shoot.
Do Plan ahead!
This is so important to do, you need to plan what you’d like to do well in advance so you can buy items you might need and don’t forget anything on the day. I had a good idea of what I had in mind and did lots of doodles of how I wanted it to look overall.
Do choose a theme:
This makes planning the shoot so much easier. You can keep it simple and just pick a colour scheme or go for something a little more adventurous like me!
I choose a Circus theme because, as everyone who knows me knows, I’m a little bit obsessed.
It also meant I had lots to work with within my own home and with a sudden lockdown upon us, I couldn’t go out and buy things so it was ideal for me.
Do get inspired with Pinterest:
There are literally thousands of cake smash photos out there form like-minded people as well as many fantastic blogs with DIY decoration tutorials and tons of photography tips and tricks, check it out!
Do have some Props:
This gives some brilliant opportunities for beautiful interacting photos, toys and teddys are ideal and make it a fun game for the little one.
Don’t go overboard:
Yes, props are good, but too many can make the photo look overcrowded and messy. Again Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to composing your background, think about it as a whole picture.
Don’t buy tacky plastic decor:
You know the ones I mean!
The cheap ones that you unfold and never look good as it’s so full of creases, just please don’t do it! They look super tacky, shiny to photograph there just so so awful. If you have a tight budget see if you can find paper or card versions as it makes a world of difference.
Do get creative:
I choose to make a lot of my decorations to make the shoot 100% unique. I’m aware this isn’t an option for many people but do try to think outside the box when it comes to decorations, it sets the atmosphere of the photoshoot. (I am selling the handcrafted personalized decor like the ones here, I’ll add the link here when I do)
Do home bake a cake or buy a professional one:
I messed up on this one big time, I didn’t want to spend the money on a baker’s cake just for it to be smashed and I was too lazy to bake one. So instead I bought a store one and just added extra buttercream… what a fool!
Don’t buy a store-bought cake:
The cake was too dense and so we didn’t have the proper smash moment I was hoping for, it was more of a cake smush and squeeze. I still got some great photos but I would do it differently if I was to do it again.
Don’t get a fondant iced cake / Do get buttercream topped cake:
The fondant is too solid, heavy, and won’t smash well, whereas buttercream is messy and fun and will go EVERYWHERE exactly what you want for some brilliant sticky baby photos.
*Please note I am no photographer but this is what worked for me.
Do have plenty of light:
This one is super important, lighting is everything! Try to plan your shoot to be opposite a window and have extra lights about to brighten up the shot. The lighting makes so much difference in capturing quality pictures.
Do play and have fun:
Spend time before the cake smash moment to play and let the child get used to space they are in, give them toys pull faces, and let them interact with the space around them.
Don’t stress about having a fancy camera:
Most camera phones these days take some amazing quality pictures and if yours isn’t great ask about and see if you can lend one for the afternoon. Yes, a fancy DSLR would be fantastic if you have one but if you don’t stress. It’s the memories that your capturing.
Do have a backup camera:
My camera towards the end there decided nope it was going to crash and not take any more pics, luckily I had a spare otherwise I would have missed out on the bubbles and bath pics
Do take hundreds of pics:
This is the biggest secret I can share with you, don’t stress about the perfect picture just take lots and lots and worry about it later. Over the full shoot, I took well over 600 photos! Insane right? Most of them were blurry or had his eyes closed but of that 600 I picked out just over 40 photos that I wanted to edit and share. The truly magical moments.
Don’t do it alone:
I was lucky enough to have 3 helpers, one at each side of the shot to fight the child, stop them from destroying the backdrop, plus they can play and keep the child happy. This is not a job for one person alone! You would end up with a very sticky camera.
Do be prepared for the cleanup:
Be prepared for what to do with a very sticky baby after getting all the pictures, definitely have wet wipes and a towel to hand, and get someone to run a bath ready when you’re finishing up.
My little boy loved wrestling with the foil balloons that I blew up with just regular air, forget helium he can barely walk let alone hold on to a balloon that’s floating away. It’s way more fun for them to chase them around the floor and it saves you money.
Bubbles are magical! Get a toy bubble gun and have fun, some of my favorite pictures were at the end when we finished the smash and got the bubbles out to distract him while the bath was being run. His face catching bubbles was simply priceless.
So I hoped you enjoyed my little blog, I’ve probably forgotten loads of information but hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two. If you think I’ve missed something or want any advice let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
Have fun & get messy, it’s the perfect way to celebrate your little one’s 1st birthday. I highly recommend it.
– Nicky Noodles xx