November 30, 2018  

First Birthday DIY Cake Smash Photo Session Tips

Get the look of professional cake smash pictures for your child’s first birthday party by taking them yourself! Keep reading for tips for your own DIY cake smash photo session.


In celebration of Chloe’s first birthday a few weeks ago, I set up a DIY cake smash photoshoot! It turned out even cuter than I expected and today I’m taking a quick break from Christmas projects to share all of my tips so you can do your own cake smash session at home, too.

Plus, not gonna lie, I really want an excuse to share all of the cute baby photos with you! So even if you aren’t planning a cake smash, be sure to scroll through to see lots of pictures!

I am a huge advocate for investing in professional photography of your family, but I also know that photographers can be expensive and you don’t always have the ability to hire a photographer for a smash cake photo shoot like this. But just because you can’t afford a pro doesn’t mean you can’t capture sweet images of your birthday girl or boy. Keep reading for my top 10 tips to make yours a smashing success!


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Tips For Your Own DIY Cake Smash Photo Shoot

The DIY smash cake photos I took are some of my absolute favorites of Chloe and I will always cherish them. I want you to have the same treasured photos of your child, so here are all of my tips for doing your own DIY cake smash photo shoot.

1 | Plan A Photo Shoot Color Scheme Or Theme

To achieve professional-looking smash cake photos, you’ll want to plan a cohesive color scheme or theme. This doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, just choose a small color palette that you can incorporate into the cake, outfit, and backdrop.

For Chloe’s DIY cake smash pictures, I used a mix of pinks, purples, and blues to create a colorful photo shoot.


2 | Select A Cake Smash Outfit

There are so many options for cake smash outfits! Anything goes from customized onesies to fluffy tutus to fancy dresses with pearls. I personally love the look of a cute onesie with either a tutu or a cute bow tie. Peruse Pinterest for tons of cake smash outfit ideas!

I made this fluffy no-sew DIY tutu for Chloe’s DIY unicorn Halloween costume and planned to have it do double-duty as her birthday outfit since her birthday is only a couple days after Halloween. She loves her tutu and asks to wear it often which is basically the cutest thing on the planet. Paired with a birthday onesie and she was all set for photos.


3 | Make A DIY Photo Backdrop

A nice backdrop will help you take great cake smash photos. You want a backdrop that is clean and not distracting. An empty wall in your house works perfectly or you can hang a long sheet of solid-colored wrapping paper on the wall and roll it down onto the floor like a professional photo sweep.

It’s fun to add a little pizzazz to the background of your DIY cake smash photos. I cut small circles of glitter cardstock using my Silhouette cutting machine and quickly sewed them together with my sewing machine (plain thread works for sewing paper). This DIY circle garland created the cutest decoration for the background of Chloe’s photos.

If you add a garland of any kind, remember that your baby is very short so you don’t need to hang it very high. I taped the garland to the wall and ended up adjusting it lower so it looked nice in the camera frame.


4 | Order A Pretty Smash Cake

If you can only splurge on one thing for your cake smash session, I totally recommend getting a really pretty cake. Colorful cakes that match your color scheme are perfect and I think cakes without any words are best for pictures.

I am super thankful to my friend for making Chloe the absolute prettiest smash cake! Aren’t all of those ruffles darling? I gave her a photo of Chloe’s tutu and she matched the frosting to it.

One lesson learned on the cake: Let it thaw out on the counter beforehand. We pulled this one straight out of the fridge and the frosting was so cold that Chloe had a tough time digging into it.


5 | Add A First Birthday Cake Topper To The Smash Cake

Choose a pretty topper for the smash cake. I really love the look of either a big number 1 or one all spelled out. Your cake decorator will have some ideas for you or you can find tons of cute ones on Etsy. I ended up making our own using my Silhouette cutting machine, some glitter cardstock, and two halves of a paper straw.

6 | Choose A Photo Shoot Location With Lots Of Lighting

You can take great photos even if you’re not a trained photographer! Good lighting has a major impact on photos, so choose a spot in your house that gets tons of natural light at the time of day you plan to take pictures. Or, better yet, head to a park or your backyard! Seek out a spot with the best natural light you can find. You want to avoid direct sunlight, so a spot out of the direct sun or doing photos on a cloudy day is best.

I set up our session in our little entryway mostly because I wanted that navy blue wall as the background, but also because it gets light from doors on both sides plus some big windows by the front door. I swung our front door wide open during our photo shoot to let all the light possible stream in through the glass door on the outside.

7| Consider Timing Of Your Cake Smash

Definitely take the time of day into account! You want to take photos when your location has good lighting and your little one will be happy and cooperative (which is tough to predict, I know).


8 | Use Your Best Camera

Don’t stress out too much about your camera, but definitely use the best you have! If you have a fancy DSLR, now’s the time to bust it out. If not, all of the newer phones take great photos. Either way, make sure you know how to use your camera and that it is charged with room for tons of pictures. (I took a couple hundred photos during our photo shoot!)


9 | Enlist The Help Of An Assistant

When it comes to DIY cake smash photos, you’ll definitely want an assistant to help entertain and corral the one-year-old. Once I had everything set up and my camera ready, David rounded up Chloe and sat her down in front of the cake. He sang and danced and clapped and waved and herded her back toward the cake when she wandered away. Silly dads make great assistants, that’s for sure!


10 | Be Silly, Laugh, And Have Fun!

My final DIY cake smash tip is to laugh and have fun! Let your one-year-old do their thing and get super messy if they want. Laugh along with them and sing their favorite songs to get photos with big grins. We had a lot of fun doing this as a family!



Thank you for allowing me to share Chloe’s photos with you! I hope they made you smile and gave you some ideas for your own DIY cake smash photo session. It was seriously a ton of fun and I’m so glad we have these photos to look back on.

Looking for more baby-related projects? Take a look at these blog posts:

Have a great day!

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