Tips for Cake Smash / 1st Portrait Sessions



  • All sessions include high resolution digital files loaded to an online gallery for review and download.

  • A print release is provided so you may print your images for personal use.

  • Professional lab prints and products are available for an additional fee.

  • Some props and decorations for the cake smash “set” are included in the session price and are tailored to your request.

  • Cakes and baby outfits are the responsibility of the client.

  • Local baker recommendations are available upon request.

  • Sessions take place in studio, your home or outside (depending on the weather).  Studio sessions are charged at an extra rate of $175 for studio rental.

  • $100 deposit is due to secure your session and is deducted from the session total.

all pricing and products are subject to loudoun county, virginia sales tax by state law



Before smash cake sessions, make sure that a baby is not allergic to icing and other components of the cake and treats that he/she will taste. Let him/her eat a tiny piece and wait a bit.

If something goes wrong, you will see it immediately and a child will refuse to eat more. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk spoiling not only the cake smash shoot, but also the whole birthday party.

Picking a theme for your photoshoot

  • A theme doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to characters, eras or anything like that: sometimes you may choose to simply pick a few colors that go well together and go from there!
  • Sometimes, the surroundings themselves make for a great theme, offering stunning backdrops. For instance, an outdoor shoot calls for all things natural and bright, such as flowers, animals and so on.
  • Of course, when it comes to character or animal themes, you have plenty of exciting options limited only by your imagination! Some of the most popular themes for girls include Unicorn, Mermaid, Princess, or Disney characters. Boys generally like being sent into space, playing with cars, as well as being surrounded by famous superheroes. And remember – there are no truly “boy” or “girl” themes – just pick something your little one is most excited about to put a smile on their little face.

According to a cake smash photography expert, Steph Donaher, some of the best color combinations to consider for themes include:

  • Pink/Yellow/Blue/White
  • Gold/Red/Black
  • Navy/Silver
  • Navy/Pink
  • Navy/Turquoise/Blue
  • Purple/Orange/Turquoise
  • Grey/Orange/Blue
  • Black/Gold
  • Navy/Gold
  • Black/Pink/Gold


Which cake would be ideal for the shoot? Here are some tips

  • There are pretty much only two colors to avoid when it comes to picking the cake: first, many shades of brown look like poo, so chocolate sponge and cream aren’t the best choices. In addition, red looks a bit creepy resembling blood, so avoid it as well – unless you’re going for Halloween vibes.
  • Ultimately, if all else fails, resort to a white cake with colorful sprinkles as it’s the safest bet, albeit not the most creative.
  • Remember: the cake is there to be destroyed! Don’t go overboard with expensive creations – some experienced photographers say that store-bought sponge decorated at home with bright toppings works best.
  • Speaking of decorations, avoid using fondant since it’s hard for the kids to deal with! As a result, your child will either lose interest or make much less mess than intended. Instead, use brightly colored buttercream, or even whipped heavy cream, with sprinkles and other edible bits on top.
  • Another tip is to leave the cake out of the fridge for about 15-30 mins, so the icing softens. Don’t leave it out for too long though – food poisoning isn’t fun.

But remember … Safety first!

Always consider potential allergens to avoid dangerous adverse reactions. Some babies are allergic to one or more common cake ingredients, such as wheat, eggs, and nuts. In addition, suddenly consuming too much sugar can send a baby into an anxious sugar rush – so all things considered, pick a recipe wisely.


Once you have decided on a cake smash photoshoot, there are still many factors to be considered. Indoors photoshoot or outdoors? White cake, blue cake, green cake? Professionally-decorated cake or DIY?
Let us start off at the very beginning – the baby’s outfit.

Here are several cake smash outfit ideas for boys.

  • Pick an outfit that can be stained. The last thing you want to do is dress your little man in a family heirloom and then have it ruined after a single photograph. Consider purchasing something completely new, or even second-hand so as not to ruin any of his existing clothing.
  • Find something cute but inexpensive. Once again, it could very well be stained during the cake smash. You want to find something that won’t look frumpy in the pictures but also will not put you into debt! (Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay tend to be good options.)
  • Choose colors that complement or match the colors of the cake. It’s time to go back to elementary art class – look at the color wheel. If your cake will be purple, consider a yellow, orange, or light blue outfit. If the cake or props will be pink, go for a light green or sky-blue outfit.
  • Photographers recommend ruffles, tulle, ribbon or lace.
  • Avoid dark colors or bright white; they do not show up well on camera.
  • Some options specifically for boys – a diaper cover, suspenders, a bow tie, and/or a cute hat is absolutely adorable.

Enjoy the process! These pictures with your little cowboy – or Buzz Lightyear, or perhaps football quarterback – will be a beautiful memory long after his attention is turned to more grown-up things.

Cake smash shoots can be an absolute joy. This is the perfect time to celebrate your sweet little one’s first, event-filled year of life – and your survival.

First, the most crucial step – the outfit. Here are some guidelines for choosing an outfit for your little princess’s cake smash.

  • Once again, choose an outfit that will not stain easily – or at least one that you will not mind discarding later. Certain icing colors stain clothing easily.
  • Find something cute but inexpensive. The definition of cute is up to you! Traditionally, little-girl photoshoots involve pink frills and princess costumes, but it’s up to you! Maybe you want your baby girl in a jersey and tiny little cleats. The emphasis being on inexpensive – after all, you have many more birthdays to celebrate with this little one.
  • Photographers recommend accessories like headbands, necklaces, and cute shoes for some fun detail in your picture.
  • Sandals are adorable! Consider sandals.
  • Don’t hesitate to dress her up in a diaper. It’s the ultimate, low-budget form of clothing, quickly switched out for another. After all, you are already changing her diaper several times a day!

Whatever you do, enjoy the process. It is easy to get caught up in all the details of the photoshoot, from researching the photographer to purchasing the cake (or DIY-ing it), from the location to the theme. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and enjoy the process. These pictures will be a memory for years to come.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cake Smash Photoshoot

A cake smash session is most definitely a beautiful mess. With cake and icing everywhere, props and even the walls can be covered. Some recommend outdoor photoshoots for an extra dash of playfulness and – you guessed it – a much easier cleanup process. However, both indoor and outdoor cake smash photoshoots have their advantages and disadvantages.


  • One pro of outdoor cake smash shoots is the ease of cleanup, whether it be via a hose, wet wipes, paper towels or something else. Even better if the venue you choose for your photos has a kiddie pool – even the cleanup can be fun!
  • Outdoor cake smash photography can be more playful and fun.
  • A third pro – minimal props! With all the beauty of the outdoors, props are mostly unnecessary.


  • The weather and sunshine limit the schedule. Photos are best taken before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid the heat in the summer and dehydration and to ensure the overall health of all those involved in the photoshoot.
  • Lighting! Bad weather can affect the brightness and thus the quality of your picture.


  • You control what distracts your baby. With an outdoor shoot, depending on your surroundings, the baby may be distracted by a stray bird or the breeze. Indoors, you can choose the setting to avoid distractions.
  • Familiarity with the surroundings may be another point in favor of the indoor cake smash. If you choose to do the shoot in your home, you will be very familiar with your surroundings, including the places that will have the best lighting, fewest distractions, and where the baby is happiest.
  • Indoor cake smash photography sessions in Singaporean studios often include the bathing facilities, as opposed to an outdoor shot in which you will have to clean up your baby with minimal resources.


  • Cleanup may be inconvenient. Icing can stain surfaces and get into crevices in the most uncanny of ways.

Indoor shoot or outdoor shoot? In the end, it is your decision. Most professional photographers are willing and able to work with either setting to present you with the highest quality pictures available.

Both indoor and outdoor cake smash photography shoots have their pros and their cons. The best choice will depend on your situation, your baby on any given day, and your preferences!

Getting ready for the cake smash photography shoot

There are quite a few things to keep in mind to ensure the cake smash photography shoot goes as effortlessly as possible. Here are some tips for your checklist:

  • Things will absolutely get messy, so be ready to clean up afterwards (unless you’re hiring a complete package that includes cleaning)! Pack wisely and have plenty of wet wipes, napkins and towels handy on the day of your shoot.
  • Don’t want to ruin the floor? Scout the local handyman store for some cheap cut-outs, being that a piece of soft rug or some odd lino. Pick something you can dispose afterwards, or if you’re keen – role up and blast from a garden hose.
  • Alternatively, use some bedsheets as surface protectors/backdrops.
  • Avoid going overboard with the decorations! It’s tempting to fill up the space with toys, props and balloons, but this can be very distracting. First, you want your baby to be the focus of the photos. But also, what if instead of smashing a cake your child will suddenly decide to play with something else, leaving you waiting for hours before you can even get started? Play it safe and don’t overload the location.
  • Remember that your child’s clothing may be completely ruined, so don’t necessarily put them in the fanciest possible outfit. Besides, cake smudges often look best on plain clothing.
  • Unless you really want to, it’s generally not the best look to have your child in obvious disposable nappies. If you must use them, get a nappy cover to put on top for a better look.

How to manage the baby’s behavior during the cake smash photoshoot

  • Remember that the little one has no idea that you expect them to smash the cake – so don’t be alarmed or surprised if they don’t dig in straight away! Add the unfamiliar surroundings and a weird bunch of suspiciously happy adults, and you have a recipe for a tantrum. To partially avoid these issues, it’s sometimes recommended to practice the session at home – with a cupcake, for example. Extra bonus points if you decorate it in a manner similar to the planned cake! In addition, trying out a small treat first helps catch any allergies you may not have been aware of, so it can also be a safety tip.
  • Give gentle encouragement if required! Some babies are quite cautious about ruining things, so you might have to explicitly let them know it’s ok to ruin the icing and play with the cake. And once they’ve started, they’ll probably be unstoppable!
  • To put the little one’s mind at ease, try distracting them by getting them to show you a skill! When in the right mood, most toddlers are happy to be little crowd pleasers, whether it’s by striking a pose, singing a song or blowing a kiss. Cute!
  • Your best bet at avoiding tears and tantrums is keeping the session short and sweet. Getting the little one’s attention for anything over 40 minutes can be problematic, so plan for this timeframe and go from there (as miracles do happen, especially when cake is involved). Aim to get the main shots within the first 20 minutes for the ultimate peace of mind.
  • Prepare for the worst. Kids are unpredictable, and sometimes you just can’t get them onboard. Be mentally prepared to reschedule the cake smash photography shoot if this happens, and don’t get mad at the little one. Remember: they have no idea what’s going on, so your negative emotions will only add to the confusion, decreases the chances for a successful second attempt in the near future.

And finally ….Tips for hiring a professional photographer

It’s totally possible to DIY a cake smash photography shoot – however, hiring a professional photographer ensures the best possible results (and an extra pair of helping hands…and fancy equipment…lots of stuff, really).

The following tips will help you pick the best photographer for your upcoming cake smash photoshoot:

  • Do your research – and then do it again. Before approaching a few shortlisted photographers for quotes and consultations, you need to form a clear idea if what your budget is, and what quality/inclusions/extras you’re likely to get for it. From reviewing their website and social media to diving into the comments under their posts, you want to find extensive evidence of great personal skills and awesome work quality.
  • Don’t be cheap. It can be tempting to hire someone who offers low prices – but chances are this person is a hobbyist at best. If the money is tight, you might be better off going the DIY route or waiting another year to take the photos.
  • Don’t be shy and ask about relevant experience. Someone might be a brilliant landscape photographer, but they aren’t necessarily great at taming screaming, cake-stained toddlers! Training, experience or a combination of both all matter when picking a photographer.
  • Is an assistant available for the shoot? Although not necessary (and likely to increase the price), an assistant does help provide additional support for the child, as well as streamlining the process by providing an extra pair of hands.
  • What are the photoshoot arrangements, e.g. is there a studio for you to come into, do they have props available, what kind of equipment they have, will the baby be comfortable in the proposed setting, and so on.
  • What are the cancellation and rescheduling policy? As mentioned above, babies are largely unpredictable – so you need to know what happens in case of a sudden cancellation. Will you lose your bond – or even an entire session fee? Are there fees for rescheduling? Ask everything and make notes to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • Are there extra charges to include more people (i.e. parents or siblings)? Is it possible to combine 2 shoots in a single time slot, in case another cake-smashing toddler wants to join in the fun?
  • After the photos are released, what are the usage right and permissions? Can you share raw/unedited photos on social media whilst waiting on the edits, and if so, what are the conditions?


A cake smash session can be best described as a beautiful mess! Plan everything according to the tips above, but don’t forget to breathe, relax, and fully embrace the fun and chaotic nature of the shoot. Watch your little one destroying the cake and imagine all the precious memories to come – many moments to cherish and remember!



What to Bring - Make a list

Make a list of items that you are responsible for bringing to the session and pack the items the night before your session. Some helpful things to bring along are:

  • An extra pack of baby wipes
  • paper towels
  • 2 standard bath towels
  • an outfit for baby to wear home
  • baby’s favorite puff/snack (many times babies who are reluctant to try their cake will reach for their favorite snack even if it’s on the cake out of vision from the camera)
  • baby’s favorite toy(s) that produces smiles




First birthday cake smash tips

  • Schedule your cake smash photography session 4-8 weeks before your desired date
  • If you want to showcase the portraits at their first birthday party or use them on invitations, schedule your session for when they are 11 months old
  • Choose to have a cake smash photography session with just your baby, or include siblings and mom and dad for some added fun
  • Do a practice run with your baby. By teaching them how fun (and delicious!) it is to get messy with a cake a week before the session, they’ll be more likely to dig in for the winning portraits
  • Go with the flow on the big day. Some babies are more reserved and some go all out. Either way, you’ll walk away with beautiful portraits that showcase your unique babe

What to bring to your cake smash session?

A cake of course

Second only to your adorable little one, the cake is the most important element of the photo session. I recommend that your child has tasted cake and frosting prior to the session.  Here are a few things to think about when choosing a cake:

  • Size: I highly recommend a 6-inch cake. It seems to be the perfect size for a great session. Avoid cupcakes or tiny pre-made cakes
  • Frosting: Be sure to choose a cake that has frosting–NOT fondant. Fondant doesn’t give us those amazing cake smash portraits we’re going for
  • Frosting colors: Try to avoid brown and red which can look a little less than pleasant when smeared on your little one’s face. I recommend light colors for the cake and the frostingPastels in particular photograph very well! Lastly, sprinkles always photograph great! Especially if you want to add some accent to your cake
  • A note about white: If you choose a white cake, try to get a cream-colored frosting instead of bright white which can look over-exposed.

Candle or cake topper

I do provide some but feel free to bring along a candle, or custom cake topper. Check Etsy out for some great options! We can use your topper or candle in the first portion of the cake smash and we can remove it when things start to get messy.


I recommend you bring two outfits for photographs and one outfit for your little one to wear home. We will use the first outfit for your first birthday portraits, then change into a different outfit to get messy during the smash!

Once you know what you plan on having your little one wear and the colors of your cake, let me know! This helps me coordinate a backdrop and set colors that tie everything together.

If you are interested, I have some diaper covers, rompers, overalls, and pettiskirts for both boys and girls to wear.

Snacks and drinks

Be sure to come prepared with a drink for your little one. They are sure to get thirsty once they start eating the cake!

I also recommend bringing your child’s favorite snacks. This can be helpful if we need to put something in the cake to entice your baby to dig in.


These are optional but highly recommended! They really add to the magic of the session. You can bring one big balloon or a handful of regular balloons. Make sure to choose balloons that coordinate with your color scheme.

Alternatively, I can provide a balloon garland, just be sure to let me know ahead of time!

What we provide for your cake smash session

  • Cake stand: various types to choose from
  • Vintage high chair: perfect for first birthday portraits before the cake smash!
  • Diaper covers, rompers, overalls, and pettiskirts for boys and girls
  • Soap, towels, and body lotion to clean your child after the cake smash session
  • Plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • (optional) balloon garland

Interested in cake smash photography for your babe?

If your little one has a milestone coming soon and would like to reserve a first birthday/cake smash photo session, please contact me as early as possible to secure your preferred date.