Smash the cake and first birthday baby session

Why smash the cake photos?

Here are 7 tips to make your professional photoshoot a great one!

Celebrating your baby’s first birthday is a great time to take some fun cake smash photos. Sometimes it is the first opportunity to have professional photos of you and your baby taken as well!

So how to get ready to make most of your first birthday photoshoot? Doing a DIY session might be a daunting experience and instead of having fun you put all your energy and attention to preparations and trying to keep your baby active and happy in front of the camera.

When should your baby smash the cake photos?

Plan you photoshoot in advance. Getting all the props, consulting your photographer, doing photos and finally retouching them to deliver before the baby’s actual first birthday takes some time. It is best to do photos at least  three to four weeks before.

The planning and preparation can take as much as you need before then. You and your family will be very happy to see the photos displayed on the tables or a cake table at the party. You will have enough time to make prints or even albums if you do photos six to eight weeks before the birthday party.

Smash the cake and first birthday baby session

Examples of props & colors to choose for the baby photos?


In this day and age I’d rather do sessions in family homes than in the studio. COVID pandemic has changed a lot. This also means that the parents or couple take care of the props. I’m fully engaged in helping to pick the best ones and usually bring my light stands and lights. Light stands are very helpful if we need to mount the backdrop that you chose. 

It can be tempting to keep adding new elements for your baby’s cake smash photography, but when it comes to props, always follow the less is more rule. In the same way that clutter can cause distractions, so can too many props. Making a nice backdrop can take hours but most of the time just a very few elements but two of three different scenarios will make the photos look great. 

Choose 2-3 items and stop there. Remember, a cake smash photoshoot is all about your baby and this milestone… let the baby and the cake be the heros ! These photos will be taken as last once, so let’s think of where we can take other photos of your baby. Usually the nursery can be a good place. Baby’s cradle or an armchair will work. We can easily use some toys and the effect will be great. 

The less elements that ask for attention, the more powerful and striking the resulting photos will be!

Little baby girl birthday cake

First birthday cake and props for cake smash photoshoot.


I always suggest simplicity:

Keeping everything in the same color pallet  or analogous colours which are next to each other on the colour wheel will give you a simple but sophisticated look. Used together will create a harmonious overall backdrop for the baby’s photos.


One of the best options for taking cake smash photos is no clothes other than a nappy, simple skirt or trousers. In winter, it might be too cold for the baby to go bare chested, even indoors. In that instance, keep clothing simple.

Less to clean up the better!

But also, it’s as simple as you can get. There is nothing more distracting in these types of photos than an outfit with multiple colours, fabrics, logos, and pictures. Let’s keep the focus on the action. It will be perfect and beautiful to just watch your one year old baby play and taste the cake. That is all we need – right? 🙂

For other baby session photos I would recommend no more than three different outfits. Babies might get tired just from changing them, it also takes time to do that.

clothing for baby photo session

Photos at home or at a photo studio?

Why choose your apartment not the studio?

Answer is twofold. On the one hand in your apartment there are not multiple different people passing through every day, so the risk of exposure is much smaller. On the other hand all the props will be yours – you don’t need to worry is they are sanitized properly. The other major factor is – that you don’t need to travel anywhere. I will bring with me all the equipment we need to make photos epic. No matter if you live in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey city, Hoboken or anywhere in between I will come to you and make your life easier.

COVID situation dramatically changed the way I work. Face mask and hand sanitizer are part of my apparel. If I take photos at your home I usually don’t touch anything but my equipment, so your input is vital to make all work. I will use latex gloves, if you need my help setting up props and will keep my proper  distance as well or more from your baby. Due to the whole situation I recommend taking photos outside in the nearby park – in summer when it is nice and warm. Other than that we can make most apartments work.

Set up and backdrops


Maybe it’s obvious… but when looking for how to set up a cake smash photoshoot at home, don’t choose to set up on your expensive persian rug. Wooden floor and hard surface that is easy to clean is perfect. 

For first birthday photos we can extend the backdrop to lay on the floor or put a bigger nicely steamed piece of cloth to make it look seamless. Let’s pick two three backdrops for the photos. Floor is great but also a nice armchair or a baby’s cradle will work for some photos. You can also pick a few of the favorite babies toys to keep the little one busy and engaged.

I usually ask to have 10×10 feet space to be able to work with ease and put the lights where they should be. Arranging some pieces of furniture so we can start taking photos as soon as possible is the best.


Plain backdrop and piece of cloth on the floor will make the backdrop for baby pictures.

Hoboken first birthday baby photo session


The easiest backdrop by far is simply a plain light coloured wall. You can also get a very inexpensive piece of fabric to mount to the wall or light stands. Velvet ones work best from my experience. If you want to go for a more industrial look even hardware drop cloth will work great. There are plenty of options of ready to go backdrops you can get online.  If you have trouble choosing I would be happy to help.


This is a great opportunity to take some photos of the baby in the cradle or just playing with the toys.  We don’t need to spend the whole time and also we need to make sure the baby will not fall asleep once in bed. So, make sure we take photos at the time away from baby’s nap time.

New York Baby session

Baby photos in the nursery can be a great idea for backdrop.

Background clutter

Eliminating all background clutter is one of the most powerful things you can do not only when taking cake smash photos but whenever you want to elevate your photos from snapshots to looking professional. To many extra elements that draw the viewer’s eye away from the main subject make the photos look not professional and intended.

Indoors, clutter can come in many forms like stray toys, a basket of laundry in the background or a pile of newspapers on the dining table. So, let’s clean up the space and move things around so we can have a plain simple backdrop for photos.

Also, too many elements – no matter how beautiful – will make the space look busy. Arranging them and eliminating from the background except just some few most important is the key to success.

new york baby cake smash session


I want the images to look light, bright and cheerful. That suits cake smash photos. Achieving the beautiful soft light can be done in a few ways. You might be a fan of natural light. Airy space with large windows would be a perfect solution. If you are aiming more for a crisp look, a strobe light is the best option.

The only thing you need to do is communicate with me and I will give you my best advice.   As a bonus, it’s easy to use and easy to find! Soft light wraps gently and evenly around our subject and is free from harsh shadow lines. Looks pleasing to an eye and the baby’s skin loves it too.

How parents can help during a baby’s photo session?

Having a second pair of hands could come really handy when taking cake smash photos or a first birthday session. If your baby is crawling, your helper can ensure the little one stays confined in the location and doesn’t drag bright blue buttercream throughout the house or stays safely on the raised cushion.

There are few ways to grab babies’ attention, to look at the camera. Toys, bubbles, and funny faces might work great. I would ask you to be directly behind me so you grab all the child’s attention doing that. 

How parents can help during baby session?

When is the best time to do cake smash baby photos?

Party date

If you’re having a party for your baby’s first birthday, schedule to take your cake smash photos another day. Most preferably three- four weeks before to make sure you will have time to get some photos printed for the party. It is not the best idea to do it on party day. They are busy, tiring, with many distractions and many people around.


When organizing your cake smash photoshoot make sure your baby is hungry enough to taste the cake with enthusiasm! You can also use baby snacks to grab his or her attention throughout the photoshoot. 


Why would you schedule your cake smash pictures when your baby is tired and cranky and ready for their afternoon nap?

Choose a time of day when your baby is usually feeling their happiest, for the best chance of happy expressions at your first birthday baby session.

Let’s have you and your baby have some great first birthday baby session.

Whether it is your first professional photoshoot for you and the baby or not it is always a great to have photos as children are growing up. I’m lucky enough to see them taste the cake for the first time in their lives and capture those moments for you forever. Family is crucial and cherishing it as quality vital. Fun and candid times spent with your babies will stay with you and more importantly will be a great memory recolor as children grow up.

It doesn’t matter if you live in New York, Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey or anywhere in between I’m sure I will be able to capture some family love for you.

baby playing with favorite toys
Scroll to Top