A DIY Cake Smash Photoshoot (How Not To Do It)
Pinterest told me a DIY Cake Smash Photoshoot would be easy. Pinterest was wrong. If you've never heard of a Cake Smash before now, it wouldn't have been long before you did. A Cake Smash photoshoot is exactly as it sounds: a shoot done while smashing a cake, and it seems to be everywhere right now. I had grand plans for Harrisons' First Birthday Cake Smash: as with everything I do, I had sought my inspiration online and I had filled an entire Pinterest board full of beautifully arranged and well captured shots of babies with their cakes. I had plenty of ideas, and I knew in my head exactly how my own cake smash shoot would play out. I ordered my decorations, picked up my cake and all but chose the walls for my soon to be amazing pictures to hang on, but alas like almost everything I do that comes from Pinterest, a few things about our cake smash (the entire thing) didn't quite go to plan. Unlike my last Pinterest inspired photshoot - anyone remember the Milk Bath fiasco?- we did actually come out with some nice pictures, even if they aren't exactly what was planned in the first place. I initially planned on writing a DIY Cake Smash post that would allow me to share my wisdom as to making the most of your own Cake Smash shoot, but after realizing that my wisdom is scarce, I figured I'd just share my tips to help someone else avoid a disaster.
Don’t Order Props From China I was adamant about the fact that I ordered my props with plenty of time to spare. In a bid to save money and to have a specific colour scheme, I bought a ridiculous amount of decorations from Amazon. I bought these late on the Wednesday evening, confident that the hefty amount of money I coughed up for next day delivery would mean I would have them in time for the big day on Saturday. They didn’t, and they wouldn’t have. Despite having paid more for delivery than I did for the items, I unknowingly ordered them from China, and no amount of postage would have got them to me overnight. As much as I would have loved pom pom garlands, a cake stand and a baby bow tie and nappy cover set, my Poundland balloons and a Tesco party hat worked just fine…. Or at least, it would have done if Harrison didn't absolutely despise party hats. I don't blame him, I hate party hats too - but we may have spent more time putting the hat back on Harrisons' head than actually taking pictures....
Don't Rely on the Weather Although Harrisons' birthday was on the Saturday, there would have been nothing stopping me from shooting his Cake Smash in advance. We live in Scotland, where weather is unpredictable to say the least. Taking that into account I should have taken advantage of the few dry days we had leading up the Saturday, but of course I didn't. This meant that over the weekend I had no choice but to sit wallowing in my own bad mood as the rain poured. Our original plan was to go to a local country park where the Autumnal backdrop would have complimented the gold and orange colour scheme (to be provided by the props that didn't arrive) but when it's chucking it down for most of the day, it’s just not going to happen. If you happen to be blessed with dry weather, remember to consider the wind if you do manage to order props on time. Giant balloons, little balloons - in fact any type of balloons - and wind do not mix. Learn from my mistake and check the weather in advance, or if you live in Scotland, don’t try and do an outdoor shoot in the middle of October.
If Shooting Inside, Think Logistics After realizing the weather was not going to play ball for our Cake Smash, I thought I'd be able to salvage the situation by shooting indoors. I had no backdrops, but with a full white brick feature wall in our kitchen I thought we might be ok. What I failed to think about was the lack of natural light we have in the middle October in a kitchen with two standard windows on a gloomy day, and what I would actually end up with in shot. I had bought the classic cliché’ balloons that spelled out ONE to include in the picture, but in order to do this I'd either have to shoot in Portrait (which I didn't want to do), zoom in to a tiny square of the shot (which I didn't want to do) or accept that half of my kitchen would have to be in shot (which I wouldn’t do). Instead I gave in and done the very thing I said I wouldn’t do, I shot in our garden. The ground was still damp, but as soon the rain stopped for long enough, we done our cake smash. It was a case of run out, run in with an umbrella at the ready, but it worked out. We had to bring in a rather dingy looking wooden go-kart we had as I didn’t want Harrison sitting on the damp ground, but in the end it looked like a very deliberate prop rather than an inconvenience and I'm almost glad the ground was wet.
Choose Your Cake Wisely and Don't Expect A Smash Our cake was a £3 gem from a local discount cake shop, or at least it was before we left it sitting for days waiting on the rain to stop. The cardboard layer that was around the outside of the cake stuck itself to the icing and by day three it was stuck for good. When we took the layer off for our cake smash, we took off half the icing too and our cake was left looking rather disheveled. Safe to say I didn't bother taking a before picture... Harrison was extremely apprehensive with his disheveled cake, which was something I never expected. When you think CakeSmash, you think of a smash, some grabby hands or at least a bit of mess. As it turns out, I have the neatest, nicest cake smasher in the world. We ‘smashed’ for under ten minutes, nine of which involved our one year old carefully picking the icing sprinkles from the top of the cake, thirty seconds of which involved Jordan smashing the cake and the last thirty seconds involved the baby getting in about the messy smash we were looking for initially. For the first time in his twelve months, Harrison showed a real aversion to being making a mess, who knew...
Don't Forget Baby Wipes If your anything like us, you'll get your baby covered in cake only to realize you have no baby wipes, at all. Only after Harrison realised he didn't like being covered in cake did we realize we had no way of cleaning him, which was absolutely typical. If you don't have baby wipes, have a bath or sink at the ready. I expected a relatively easy going half hour, filled with joy, cake and some pretty amazing photographs. My reality was twenty minutes of trying to battle to keep the handful of balloons we'd managed to salvage for our props from blowing over our garden fence, untangling the one measly string of decorations we had, putting a party hat back on a one year olds head forty odd times and trying to stop him from eating the bark on the ground rather than the cake, all whilst holding a camera and sweating profusely. In short, it was a bit of a shit show.
I feel like this shoot sums up my ability to do Pinterest'y things. Despite the fact that all of my plans went to pot, I love the pictures that we ended up with. Somehow, the dingy old go-kart looks like an intentional prop, Harrison looks like he's actually enjoying the cake and the hat managed to stay on for long enough. More than anything, I love them because they'll remind me of the little person Harrison' was as he turned one. He was (and is) a curious little soul who knows exactly what he wants. Whether that be to take his hat off, or to share his cake with everyone around him. The pictures may not have turned out exactly the way I wanted them too, but they were still completely worth the stress.