Let’s discuss how to create a simple, diy cake smash for your baby. First you’ll need to find a room in your home with great light. In my house this is our dining room, which is good because our table isn’t too hard to clear and move by myself. Preferably you want windows on two sides of the room providing indirect, soft light. If the sun light is falling directly in the line of sight of your camera, you’ll have harsh shadows. Areas in the photo will be under or overexposed.
Once you’ve picked the perfect spot in your home for lighting you’ll need a white sheet and a disposable white tablecloth. I got my tablecloth at Target for less than $3. The sheet will work as your backdrop and the tablecloth as your foreground for easy cleanup. You’ll want to smooth out as many of the wrinkles as you can beforehand. I could’ve done better here, but #1 I knew I could smooth it in Photoshop and #2 my hovering 3 year old left me little time for perfection. I doubled up my sheet for optimum density without any see through spots. Then I fixed my sheet to the top of our kitchen counter with some weights to hold it in place. Make sure it’s sturdy and nothing is going to fall on your little (safety first). It’s perfectly alright to get creative here. Think childhood forts with sheets, tables, chairs, chip clips and hair ties.
I’ve been planning a maple syrup theme since her birth because she was born in sugar shack (syrup making) season. As a new born it unfortunately never came to fruition, but I was determined to make it happen this year for her 1st birthday. She also loves pancakes which go hand-in-hand with maple syrup. Hence my Maine maple syrup and pancake, cake theme. I love supporting local businesses, and used local Maine maple syrup!
I’m not going to lie, I like to bake, but my cakes are never professionally pretty. They taste good enough. So, unless you make super pretty cakes I’d suggest having one professionally made. Or you could DIY cake smash it up and go the rustic route like me. The pancake stack with strawberry frosting was time consuming, but well worth it. She loved it! However, the cakes did start to slide off the cake plate with the frosting between layers. I had to use a kabob skewer in the middle of the cakes to keep the stack upright. I also thought about colors ahead of time. The color of the cake with the color of her outfit with the color of the backdrop. These are things you’ll want to think about and have planned in advance.
A neutral backdrop free of distractions will maintain the attention on your subject.
I suggest laying everything out, getting a few establishing shots to correct any lighting issues or anything else that may arise immediately and then bringing in the baby. In these shots there is a large sliding glass door to the baby’s right and another window directly behind the camera. To balance the lighting even further a reflector could have been used to the baby’s left. If you don’t have a professional reflector the lid of a styrofoam cooler, a mirror, another white sheet or even a sheet of aluminum foil could be used to bounce the light back onto the baby from that side. Personally I like the lighting here. I got enough bounce of light back from the tablecloth on the floor to be happy.
The shot above worked as an establishing shot, but I got even further back and lower to the ground after.
And then I just waited for the baby to her thing. Whatever that was! I find it more fun to let them play and explore the setting and capture genuine reactions rather than prompt them with toys and props the entire time. Although I did break out into song once or twice to get her attention and a few smiles.
I think it worked well! Clean-up wasn’t too bad. She was too preoccupied with everything in front of her to touch the sheet behind her, and the tablecloth under her went into the trash with one fell swoop. Then it was straight to the bathtub, and nap time after that. Cake smashing leaves a baby tuckered. Haha.
Once the images were uploaded I used a combination of layers and clone stamping to blend the background and foreground in Photoshop.
Without Photoshop the pictures are still priceless, and well worth the effort.
That’s it. I hope you enjoyed our DIY cake smash session!