Cake Smash Photo Shoots Are Not Cute! They’re Totally Cheesy

Haven’t we parents suffered enough with Anne Geddes‘ cheeseball photos? You know the ones: babies dressed as sunflowers and butterflies and little fairies fast asleep on tree trunks (wtf?!). She’s hugely popular, I know, but that doesn’t mean I like her.

Now there’s a new breed of photographers to loathe: those who stage ‘cake smash’ photo shoots. As the name indicates, cake smash shoots entail presenting a baby or toddler with a whole cake to taste – and then destroy – in front of the camera. And the trend is picking up among families wanting to capture “special” memories of their little ones.

“It brings out the personality of the child,” Burlington, Ontario mom Jen Pate told the Toronto Star (she marked her son’s first birthday with one of these shoots). No offense to Pate or the countless other parents out there who actually pay someone to bake a cake and then pay a second person to destroy said cake, but what are you thinking? It’s all so contrived!

I get it, I get it – not everyone is into the candid-style kids’ photographs of which I’m personally a fan. And not everyone has access to a quality camera or sharp shooter. But, still, there’s something so incredibly tacky about these portraits. They’re overly staged, that’s for sure, but they’re also so… unnecessary. I mean, if parents really want to capture their precious little angel “exploring” a cake, they should bring their camera to their kid’s first birthday (guaranteed you’ll get the same results).

In the Toronto Star article, cake-maker Sonia Macaluso says she had her first request for a two-tier cake for a smash shoot last summer. (Personally, I’d flip out if my kids smashed up my culinary creation but, then again, I don’t bake for a living.) She has since received at least 20 similar requests and she expects the cakes will represent 15 percent of her business this year (the cakes cost $25 to $35).

Photographers have offered up tips for getting the most out of your cake smash photo session, including this one: “Avoid red frosting, it can turn a fun shoot into a horror scene.” Um, hi. This is enough as a horror scene as is, thankyouverymuch.

(Photo: paigedavisphotography.com)

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    • Chandra

      Wow, I didn’t even know this was a thing. And I agree- first birthday party is where it’s at!

    • Amanda Ernst

      If you can afford to buy a cake and photograph your child smashing it, you can afford a camera. Heck, you can probably afford to hire a photographer to be there for your kids’ first birthday party where they might catch your child doing just this!

    • Shawna Cohen

      Thanks for the comments, ladies. I thought that I maybe I was being too cynical – or even snobby – but, really, I can’t help but cringe when I see these types of photos. Total Anne Geddes part two! (Shudder.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emma-Canham/538759114 Emma Canham

        Then don’t look at them! Nobody is forcing you to…

    • Jenna

      Hmmm you seem to be missing one vital point – which is actually the reason why I offer cake smashes… the kid LOVES it.

      “Are you serious this cakes all for me! has my mum gone mad?”

      Ive never been to a kids birthday party where the child is allowed to do whatever they please with their cake – stick there hands right in it – roll around in it. It creates a whole set of different emotions to capture.. compared with blowing out the candles.

      Plus who wants to be midway through your kids birthday party (as a parent its quite special) to not only clean up a party but a kid covered head to toe in cake.

      Totally agree some look way to staged. I do mine outside and its waaaaay to much fun – Im sorry your so boring :+)

    • Mellodee05

      I think a cake smash is awesome fun for the birthday baby! But, I agree, it should be at their party. We are doing this , but it will be outside where he’s comfortable and he has his own cake and we’re just going to let him eat and play and enjoy his day. I’m making the cake because a bought birthday cake is just not as much fun. These pictures are going to capture his fun and curiosity at his very special 1st birthday with all our friends and family!

    • Ashley

      I don’t think cake smashes are cheesy… You wouldn’t want your kid getting covered in cake like this at their birthday party, so here you go! I’d say it’s very different from Anne Geddes style. Anne Geddes babies are dressed up into something they aren’t…. in a cake smash shoot, the baby is still his or herself… they are just having fun smashing up and eating a cake (isn’t that something we all wished we could have done as a child!!??)

      And a new breed of photographers to LOATHE? Really?? I’m actually pretty blown away at how snobby this article has come across. I clicked the link expecting to find some constructive feedback, but instead I’m pretty dissapointed.

    • Bobbi

      You know what really gets me? People like you who write articles like this. If you don’t like cake smashing pics that are “staged” then don’t do it. Can’t believe I wasted my time reading this article.

      • Calee Adams

        I agree with you!
        Some people need to lighten up!

    • Angela

      To each their own. I understand your perspective, but to say “just take your camera and take your own pics” is a bit insulting to those who’ve taken the time to actually learn what all goes into photography. It’s like claiming to be able to cook like emeril or Paula deen just because you also own an oven. There’s so much more that just point and snap, ren for non staged candid shots.

    • Angela

      To each their own. I understand your perspective, but to say “just take your camera and take your own pics” is a bit insulting to those who’ve taken the time to actually learn what all goes into photography. It’s like claiming to be able to cook like emeril or Paula deen just because you also own an oven. There’s so much more that just point and snap, ren for non staged candid shots.

    • sue

      I agree…it is chessy and overdone. I’m a mom of two babies….so I am not biased. It does look somewhat fake, and not even as thoughtful as all the Anne G. photos.

      • Cay

        I am a mom of two as well. How does it mean you’re not biased? It’s still just your opinion. My opinion is the opposite of yours. Odd point to make. Also saying a cake smash is overdone but liking Anne G photo’s makes no sense, they are out of this world over done compared to a cake smash.

    • kristin

      Anne geddes part 2 I think would be the sleepy newborns in nightcaps or on beds, in suitcases etc. (which I love by the way). And I am actually doing a cake smash AT the childs first birthday party. Would that be to your approval. I find it kind of insulting as well that you make such harsh criticism. Just don’t do it if you don’t like it but have respect for those who choose to do a different style of photography. And everyone knows who Anne Geddes is because she’s a beautiful artist and um……who are you?

    • Sophia’s mom

      Wow… Came across this article when trying to get some ideas for my daughts’s 1st bday photos. At a risk of sounding as judgmental and close minded as you did in this article, I think you are an incredibly snobbish and elitist individual. I am going on the assumption that no one forced you against your will to do a cake smash photo shoot. That being said, I don’t know why you feel the need to be such a gloomy, unhappy person, complaining about something that has absolutely no affect on you or your life.

      It seems like you should spend some more time filling your days trying to find things that would make you a happier and less miserable person to be around… Maybe spend a little less time insulting the talent that professional photographers have (not everyone with a camera can creat art). Saying that peo

    • Jen

      Well. I just became aware of this trend and wanted to find out more about it. I can see that I’m late to the party but I have to agree with the author. What are we teaching our children when we pay any amount of money to purchase food with the sole intention of wrecking it completely, and having a professional photographer shoot the results? I think it sends a terrible message to the baby and to society in general that this kind of waste for waste’s sake is ok. Yes, babies are curious and will naturally ‘explore’ a birthday cake at a birthday party but that’s not what we’re talking about here. This is a deliberately contrived situation set up solely so that the child can destroy food that no one had any intention of eating in the first place. Not even a little bit cute.

      • Beth

        Well said.

    • Friday

      Ummm if you actually think that you will definitely get the same results just photographing the kid at the birthday party “possibly” tearing up the cake, you obviously haven’t photographed many 1st Birthdays.

      To each… I think it isn’t necessary, but if someone wants it done, why discourage the business that photographers are making from these requests. The author sounds quite pretentious.

    • ashley

      i am a photographer myself and soon will be offering These staged photos its art not just a photo of your child on your wall each to their own. I have a 8 month old and definatly do not want Her cake smashing at Her party in Her party dress so a shoot is the way forward

    • Lena

      I’m a photographer and have been for 11 years. I can tell you that any kind of memory that I have ever captured has always been memorable no matter what setting it was. I’m actually doing a cake smash this week. I think of it as a very innocent, cute and VERY FUN photoshoot for the child. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A ADULT! What parent wouldn’t want their child to have fun and be photographed doing just that? Why do people sometimes do a cake smash photo at their wedding? Cause THAT PERSON thinks it fun and the photographer is doing their JOB and photographing it! So if us Photographers get a request from a client about a cake smash photo shoot we are going to do and make sure that the LITTLE CHILD has loads of fun! try to remember this is a CHILD’S Photo shoot! I think that you are just a very bitter person and you need to find that happy place again.

      • Megan

        I COULDNT AGREE MORE!!!

    • Calee Adams

      Im a photographer and offer this service along with numerouse other thing. I personally love the idea of cake smash! and any other “posed” photo session for that matter. Its an awesome way to mark such an important milestone in your child life. First year is such an amazing year full of change and growth. Why wouldnt you want photos to rememeber it? Your against posed photography?? Would you purchase your childs school photos each year?? id say those are even more cheesy than a cake smash session. I dont see why it such an outrage to you. You don tlike cake smash photos? dont get cake smash photos done. Plain and simple

    • Jenna T

      LOL!!!!! At the whole need for you to be so highly arrogant and ignorant to the fake that people choose to do different things as our right to freedom and free will. I agree that wasting a cake can be a little mindless but at the end of the day and good parent will teach thier child the importance of not being wasteful and can have no affect on someone wanting to have a good time for a first birthday, and in the same perspective it was your suggestion to do it at the birthday party, what would be the difference, oh I know the babies hand would have been indulged in a cake that is supposed to be served. I think it’s a good Idea, if you get a tiered cake, or a cup cake! HAVE FUN TO EVERYONE DOING THIS!!!!!!!!! If i could i would upload every “smash the cake” session I’ve done.

      • mamadrama

        And the irony is that you’re bagging the author for expressing free will and choice by voicing an opinion – too clever for your own good!

    • Nicole

      gosh it doesnt have to be a brought cake im making my own and I think the writer is just BORING! cake smash is FUN . And saying its teaching kids the wrong thing about money…. they are 1! they are not going to go OMG mummy and daddy are spending money on me to ruin stuff im gonna do this the rest of my life . Gosh you people suck the fun out of every thing OH and I happen to LOVE Anne Geddes !

    • Rachel

      This is so stupid. I am a practicing photorapher and have a ten month old. I will definitely be doing a cake smash photoshoot for my babies first birthday, I think it’s such a fun photoshoot to remember the day by..Colourful, messy and fun! It’s not hurting anyone! I will be buying a cheap cake for the shoot though. If people want these photos, let people do what they want!- it’s not hurting anyone!

    • Victoria

      If you have a child I would hope you would appreciate the fun in this and many other photo opportunities that will arise. All photography (except for the total candids) requires prep, staging and posing, the trick is to make it look natural. Who would have an issue with wanting a good clear shot of their child enjoying a moment? How is this different from brides paying $$$$ for a Trash the Dress session. Lighten up, childhood goes by so fast, let people have fun and enjoy the moment. I hope you find your happy :0(

      • Powers

        That depends on whether the bride bought a second dress just to trash it.

    • Jacinta

      It’s painfully obvious the author has no eye when it comes to photos. To suggest that you can get the same results in a cake smash as you would at a child’s birthday party is ridiculous. The other kids, poor lighting, stress of the moment and god knows what happening in the background generally make a birthday party an extremely difficult place to take photos.

      The Cake Smash is a way to get some photos with a birthday theme without the parent adding one more item to stress over on the actual birthday. they are not meant to replace photos taken on the occaision but meant to mark the occasion with memorable portraits that show your baby as the star.

      Also to call it cheesy and staged just shows how naive and ignorant the author is about this type of photo. Staged would be setting a child next to a cake and expecting them to look pretty and not touch it. Cake smash is whatever the child decides it will be from a tiny handful of sprinkles to a full face of icing.

      Anne Geddes photos are “staged”. Cake smash photos are unpredictable and a wonderful way to celebrate a child’s 1st birthday with little stress and beautiful photos you will enjoy for years.

      • Brandy

        Hallelujah! My thoughts exactly! Seriously, just because ONE person doesn’t like the idea ???

      • cakesmashdream

        Thank you!!!!! I’m about to photograph my first cake smash and can’t wait!!! What a dream for every kid !! can not wait!!!!!!

    • Lisa

      Anne Geddes would have made a lot of money from her ‘cheesy’ photos.And as long as the parents love the pics and the babys are safe and having fun. WHO CARES!

    • Mary

      Came across this article while looking up cake smash tips.

      Reading this article, it almost sounds as though the author has never taken pictures of a child 12 months or younger who is mobile and able to move around. Newborn pics are posed. Once a baby is able to crawl around or even walk, there is almost nothing you can do to pose them. Cake smash pics are staged in the sense that babies are put with a cake that they are at free will to destroy. Other than that, it’s a toss-up what that baby is going to do.

      I’d much rather like my son get as messy as he wants privately and destroy a cake in a controlled environment instead of doing it at his birthday party.

      A lot of the charm in cake smash pictures lies in the fact that babies are messy eaters. At 12 months old they are becoming more dextrous, they are getting better with hand eye coordination, but lets be honest; it ain’t there yet. Cake smash pictures done properly show the whimsy of a child who doesn’t CARE if they get messy. They don’t care about getting icing or cake everywhere, and they are free to play with their food as they want. When kids get older, you don’t have that, they have to eat properly, they aren’t supposed to be messy, they have to be neat and orderly, and eat their food properly and not waste any. A cake smash is an opportunity to photograph a child during their more innocent point of life acting completely naturally and having a lot of fun.

    • Sarah

      So agree! Tacky plus I have spent time ensuring baby doesn’t eat sugar so why set them free on that amount (most are not healthy recipes).

    • Cay

      Wow, the author needs to seriously lighten up! I feel kinda sorry for her kids – if this is her general attitude I doubt there’s much fun happening in her household. There is something wonderful about capturing the innocence of a one year old child enjoying their very first birthday cake. And a whole cake all to themselves? “LUCKY ME!!!”. They are set up in order to capture some decent lighting, but contrived they are definitely NOT. Totally spontaneous – which is where the magic is!

      As for the ridiculous comment that it’s a waste of cake – it’s the EXACT opposite – never will a cake be more memorable! Who ever said it had to be expensive anyway? Make one at home, decorate it and it can be done very cheap. There are such things as sugar free cakes too.

      Bit of a stinky attitude from those who oppose them, frankly. If they’re not your thing, by all means don’t do one. No need to get all sarcastic and mean. It’s about the CHILD having FUN, and capturing that on camera.

      The sheer popularity of them shows the author is in the vast minority (happily).

    • Andrea

      I think it’s hilarious that you picked an adorable shot of a chunky sweet boy LOVING his cake to put next to your anti-chunky-sweet-boy-loving-his-cake title! The only reason I clicked on the link was because I liked that shot (and it came up in google images). This photographer-mommy of an 11 month old WILL be doing a smash-cake shoot for her son. If you don’t like them, don’t look :)

    • Ozzieincanada

      Wow you obviously missed out on a fun childhood as a child. There is nothing more innocent than a child being able to finally make a total mess with food and its ok with Mom!! I do smash cake sessions and the pure joy I get from them never ceases to amaze me. The baby has an amazing time and the Moms are just purely delighted – and they don’t have to worry about clean up. Sometimes it’s best to keep close minded comments to ones self.

    • Angie

      My sentiments exactly!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emma-Canham/538759114 Emma Canham

      Wow, someone is a grumpy old meanie …

    • Anita

      Lady, you are completely ignorant…………….that is all.

    • Lynette Brown (Blinc Pics)

      As a photographer, in the past three months I’ve had 5 people ask me if I do cake smash photo shoots, I don’t have a studio so I’ve said no to them all and recommended someone who does, but I’m loosing money, it might be a trend but trends make money.
      And I’m now looking to offer cake smash outside with natural background, I do like what you said about babies first birthday, and gives me an idea of maybe including my cake smash around the babies first birthday party, so I offer to cover their party and included I will capture them smashing their cake, now I think that would make for excellent pictures.
      http://www.familyphotosbyblincpics.co.uk

    • Kelly

      What everyone seems to have overlooked as while it may be fun, and a great experience for the parents and child, captured by a professional for life, there are starving children in many parts of the world. Children go hungry each day, and often have only one meal a day, some children die of starvation. As parents (and I’m not one) you should all understand how cake smashing can be seen as insensitive and wasteful.