To mark her first birthday in early August, Baby L did her first ever cake smash. Now, to clarify, ‘cake smash’ is not street slang for cocaine. Nor is it when a group of obese people descend upon a bakery to eat everything in sight. It is, in fact, exactly what it sounds like – smashing up a cake.
I’d not heard of a cake smash until a few weeks before the sprog’s birthday. However, having looked it up, I knew that we had to do one to mark the first major milestone in Baby L’s life. I don’t know about you, but sticking a baby in front of a huge cake and taking photos of the resulting carnage sounded right up my street. If anything, I was even a little jealous that social norms prevent me from doing something like this myself for my recent 30th.
Not surprisingly, the phenomenon originates from the States – however, unlike other things like push presents, gender reveal parties and baby showers which have travelled the Atlantic, a cake smash is actually something I think is a pretty cool idea and a great way to capture photos of your little one at their happiest.
We briefly considered doing a DIY cake smash photoshoot, however we soon thought better of it. I don’t think I’d be particularly good at coping with the mess – weaning is already enough for me – whilst the missus is still traumatised from the hundreds of cup cakes she made for our wedding three years ago.
We therefore turned to our good friend Mr Google, who has been a rock at our side through this whole parenting malarkey. Having searched for a local Berkhamsted-based cake smash photographer, we came across Rachel at Lightmonkey Photography who is a newborn specialist but also does maternity and family photoshoots. Most importantly for us though, she’s done a lot of cake smashes and had some great examples of past photoshoots on her website.
We got in touch with Rachel and managed to get a cake smash session booked in for a few days after the sprog’s birthday. She explained that she tends to do a bit more than just the smash as part of her package – the plan was to take a few family photos first to get Baby L used to the camera, then do the cake smash, prior to snapping a few photos of Baby L getting cleaned up at the end in an old bath tub. A smash and splash photoshoot, if you will.
Before the session, we chatted about the type of thing we wanted from the photoshoot over email. Not being into the whole pinky princess type stuff, we wanted to steer away from anything too My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and go with a more understated look.
Rachel was more than accommodating with our choices and we agreed on some nice bunting in the background with a red cloth nappy which would look cool with the strawberries and cream chocolate cake. As an aside, Rachel makes all of the cakes herself and gives you a cake menu beforehand to choose from. I’m pretty sure I put on weight just looking at the choice of delicious looking desserts!
On the day of the session, we made sure Baby L had a decent morning nap so that she’d be in top form, then headed over to the Lightmonkey Photography home studio for 11.30am. We were welcomed by Rachel and had a chat whilst ramming blueberries into the sprog’s mouth to keep her happy. We tend to do this a lot – chances are we’ll have an obese daughter in the future if we carry on at this rate.
We started off with a couple of family shots. The missus and I were made to look as if we still liked each other by being positioned close together, whilst the sprog sat on our knees and Rachel papped away.
We then moved on to a couple of dad with baby and mum with baby shots. I lay down on my back whilst lifting the sprog in the air – not only did we get some cool, playful photos, but it also gave me the most exercise I’ve had since becoming a dad. The shots of the missus with Baby L were particularly cute and showed the awesome bond between the two ladies in my life.
Rachel then got out a couple of props for the sprog, including a miniature stool and oversized letters to spell out “one” – well, at least I think it was supposed to say that. I guess it could have easily been Keanu Reaves’ character in The Matrix or the national gas and electricity supplier.
Baby L enjoyed eyeing up these letters, before picking them up and knocking them over – one of my favourite photos was when she picked up the “N” and made a beeline towards the camera to offer it to us. Bless her!
After the warm up, it was time for the cake. And man, the cake looked awesome. Rachel had made a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream which was topped off with fresh strawberries. It was a massive shame to destroy something which looked so nice, however it wouldn’t have made a particularly good cake smash if no smashing actually took place!
The little one stared at the cake for a few moments before plucking a strawberry off the top and popping it straight into her mouth. At that moment, I questioned whether she was actually our daughter – why the hell have a strawberry when you’ve got a chocolate cake in front of you?!
With a bit of encouragement and a helping hand to partially break up the giant cupcake, Baby L started to tuck into the cakey goodness. It wasn’t long before she was munching on large chunks of the dessert and getting the buttercream all over her cute little hands and face.
As the shoot progressed, our little lady got more and more confident. With this confidence came an increased appetite – the girl just continued to eat and eat and eat and eat. At times, it seemed like she was in a chocolatey heaven – we needed to do a lot of calling at her and waving toys in the air in order to get her to look up! Still, some of these shots were totally adorable.
After half an hour or so of photos, we decided it’d be best to clear up the cake – partly to pre-empt any boredom the sprog might have, and partly to stop her eating her body weight in cake and becoming a right fat jabba. I looked on with regret that I’d not had chance to eat the leftovers as Rachel picked up the remaining cake and put it into the bin. What a waste of a mighty fine cake!
The final part of the photoshoot was the ‘splash’. Rachel brought through an old, tin bath full of warm, bubbly water and we popped in our dessert-covered baby. We managed to get a few nice shots of the sprog in the bath, but it wasn’t long before she’d had enough and wanted to get out. With that, the shoot was over.
As you can see from the photos, Baby L had loads of fun doing the cake smash photoshoot and we really enjoyed the experience of watching her. The fact that we got some family photos as well was an unexpected added bonus. We’re really chuffed we did the photoshoot and have some awesome photos to embarrass her with on her wedding day!
Rachel did a fantastic job on the day and we’d have no qualms whatsoever in recommending Lightmonkey Photography to anyone looking for a Herts based photographer. She was friendly, knowledgeable, put us all at ease and the photos speak for themselves. For further details, check out her website, Facebook and Twitter.
Have you ever done a cake smash photoshoot with your little one? Is it something you’d consider for an upcoming birthday (N.B. I don’t mean like your Grandma’s birthday)? Let me know below!
N.B. The photoshoot and photos were complimentary, however there was no expectation to write a post or share details – I chose to do this because we enjoyed the experience and are really happy with the results.