Following my last Smash-The-Cake photography session with little Trishelle, I've decided to jot down a few pointers for parents and fellow photographers who decide to give the shoot a try.
Pre-Session (Things to remember!)
Session (Shorter than expected!)
Before starting the actual smashing of the cake, I recommend putting the child on the set and making him/her feel comfortable. Let him/ her get to know you so it's easier to get his/her attention during the shoot. Give the child a few props and also take the opportunity to take a few test shots to test your camera settings and lighting. I would make sure I do get a few good shots too at this point, while the child is still clean.
The child will get curious and try to touch the cake once it is given to him/her. However, don't be surprised if after a few seconds he/she becomes disinterested in it. Some children do not like the texture of the cake or the icing and might not be particularly interested in getting their hands dirty. Don't get disheartened, use these moments to get the child's facial expressions.
The parent/s play a very important role at this point. Let them know that you want them to be part of the fun. They might want to give some frosting to the child or smash parts of the cake to entice the child to do the same. To get the icing caked face everyone thinks of when thinking of a smash cake party, there needs to be quite a bit of assistance from the parents. Very few children will readily stuff their face in the cake.
Unfortunately you will find that in most cases, the cake smashing bit of the shoot doesn't last long. The cake will turn out a mess quicker than expected, while the kid will lose interest in the whole affair very quickly. You will find that the child will walk away from the mess very quickly. Ask the parent/s to get him/her back to the cake and take a few more shots when the parents have moved away. You will find however that after running away for a few times and being returned back by the parents to the scene, the child will not return enthusiastically to the cake. Before you call it a day, focus on detail. Take shots of the hands, feet, mouth. Experiment a bit before it's all over.
Shooting Tips (You will get down and dirty!)
As with all children shoots it is important to get as low as you can and get to the child's level. This means that you might have to also roll in some frosting and cake crumbs.
Set the camera on continuous shooting. Kids are very energetic, constantly moving and you want to make sure you capture as many instances as you can.
Check your shutter speeds. Given that the kid will move around constantly, you need to ensure that you have a fast enough shutter speed to get your sharp images.
BE VERY PATIENT!!
Post Session (Messier than expected!)
If the studio or the location permits it, you can provide a bath for the kid to rinse off from the frosting and the mess. This would allow you to take a few more candid shots as the kid is delighted to remove the stickiness and the mess left by the cake. If this is not possible you can still take some candid shots as the parent cleans the child up.
Once everyone leaves and the shoot is over prepare to clean up! The scene was much messier than expected and I can assure you that cake and frosting does get everywhere.
Enjoy shooting... and cleaning! :-)