12 Creative Cake Smash Photoshoot Ideas for Your Baby’s First Birthday

By Ramina Magid – Newborn Photography Studio in Los Angeles, CA

cake smash photoshoot

12 Creative Cake Smash Photoshoot Ideas for Your Baby’s First Birthday

Cake smash photography is all about capturing the celebration that marks your baby’s 1st birthday! As a baby photographer who has had the joy of capturing these moments, I’ve seen firsthand the magic that unfolds when a baby meets their birthday cake for the first time. This tradition, which has taken the hearts of parents by storm, is a celebration of growth, personality, and the journey of the first year that’s flown by all too quickly.

Planning your baby’s first birthday party can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Between sending out those adorable first birthday invitations and deciding on the snack options, you might find yourself scrolling through endless Pinterest boards seeking more ideas to make this occasion extra special. That’s where the concept of a cake smash comes into play—a fun, adorable first birthday photoshoot that’s as enjoyable for the baby as it is for the parents watching.

Whether you’re a baby photographer yourself or new parent looking for inspiration, this detailed guide should give you a few creative smash photography ideas! Let’s remember what the essence of what we’re celebrating—a year of firsts, from the first smile to the first step, each a precious memory in the journey of parenthood.

Vintage Picnic Party Smash Cake

Setting the Scene: Imagine a gentle breeze, the soft hum of nature in the background, and the sun casting a golden hue over a beautifully laid out vintage picnic. This setup brings a timeless elegance to your baby’s cake smash session. Picture a lush green lawn, dotted with flowers in full bloom, serving as the perfect backdrop. A vintage lace tablecloth spreads gracefully over the ground, with antique plates and silverware arranged meticulously alongside a petite, classic cake standing proud at the center.

Outfit: For your little one, think of an outfit that whispers of yesteryears—a delicate lace romper or a dapper bow tie and suspenders set, perfect for a boy or girl. Add to this ensemble a tiny pair of leather shoes or bare feet, and you’ve got a picture of innocence ready to explore the wonders of a cake.

Props: Keep these simple, vintage toys like a wooden airplane or a well-loved teddy bear can work well, maybe even add a quaint picnic basket. 

Camera Settings: With the soft, natural light enveloping the scene, maybe use a shallow depth of field (think f/2.8 or thereabouts) to keep our focus sharp on the baby and the cake, allowing the background to blur into a dreamy haze.This technique highlights the intricate details of the baby’s expression as they reach out to touch the cake for the first time—those wide eyes, the hesitant yet curious poke at the cake’s icing.

Capturing this moment, you’ll want a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, especially if your little one decides to go for a more enthusiastic smash. ISO settings should be adjusted to the lighting conditions but keeping it as low as possible will ensure the soft, gentle feel of the photos remains intact.

1st Birthday Balloon Bonanza 

Setting the Scene: Now, let’s turn the energy up a notch with a balloon bonanza that brings color, fun, and a touch of whimsy to your baby’s first birthday cake smash. At my photography studio in Beverly Hills, this is one of my favorite themes to setup! Imagine a backdrop filled with balloons of all sizes and hues, creating a rainbow canopy that seems to dance in the air. The cake, simple yet striking, sits waiting for the moment of impact.

Outfit: Dressing up your baby for this theme is as fun as the setup itself. Opt for a colorful outfit that matches the balloons’ palette—bright, joyful, and ready for fun. Think of a tutu skirt for little girls or colorful suspenders for boys, paired with a cute bowtie or headband. Safety is paramount, so ensure the balloons are securely fastened and out of reach when not directly supervised.

Camera Settings: Capturing the dynamism of this setup requires a bit of strategy. A higher shutter speed is key to catch those priceless expressions of delight or surprise on your baby’s face. An aperture around f/4 to f/5.6 works well here, offering enough depth to keep both baby and balloons in focus while softening the background. Play with angles—get down to your baby’s level to capture the world from their perspective, with balloons floating above and a cake ready to be explored. Lighting should be bright and even, to accentuate the colors without casting harsh shadows on your baby’s face.

First Birthday Animal Kingdom Adventure

Next, we venture into the wild with an Animal Kingdom Adventure, turning the studio into a lush jungle or a serene safari landscape. 

Outfit and Props: For our little explorers, either go for simple outfits that won’t class with the surroundings or try animal print outfits—think adorable leopard onesies or tiger-striped hats. Adding plush animal toys as companions on their safari brings the scene to life, creating interactions that are both heartwarming and photograph-worthy. 

Camera Settings: Capturing the essence of this adventure requires a balance between the wildness of the backdrop and the innocence of our baby explorer. I prefer to use a medium aperture (around f/5.6) to keep both the child and the immediate surroundings sharply in focus, allowing the background to softly blur, hinting at the depth of the jungle beyond. 

Classic Elegance 

Setting the Scene: The studio transforms into a serene space, where minimalist decorations create a sophisticated backdrop. Think of a monochromatic color scheme with soft, muted tones, elegant fabric drapes, and a few tasteful floral arrangements to add a touch of grace.

Outfit and Props: The outfit for this theme should reflect the elegance of the setup. A simple, chic dress or a classic suit for little ones, perhaps in soft pastels or crisp white, complements the theme perfectly. Props are kept to a minimum to maintain the focus on the baby and the purity of the moment. A classic, understated chair or a plush, neutral-toned blanket may serve as the only additions, enhancing the overall elegance without overwhelming the scene.

Camera Settings: Capturing the essence of classic elegance requires a focus on soft lighting and clean, simple lines. I tend to use a medium aperture (f/4 to f/5.6) to ensure the baby is sharply in focus against a softly blurred background, emphasizing the timeless feel. The goal is to capture portraits that are both refined and heartwarming, with a focus on the baby’s expressions and the subtle, elegant details of the scene.

Whimsical Wonderland Photo Session

Setting the Scene: Diving into the pages of a storybook, the Whimsical Wonderland theme invites imagination and playfulness into the studio. Inspired by the enchanting worlds found in children’s literature, this setup is all about vibrant colors, fantastical props, and a sense of magical adventure. 

Outfit and Props: The outfits for this theme are as imaginative as the setup itself. Think of dresses that sparkle and flutter, costumes that transform babies into fairies, dragons, or storybook heroes. Props add to the whimsy, with oversized flowers, magical wands, or a treasure chest filled with costume jewels. Every element is chosen to inspire wonder and invite the baby to explore this fantastical world.

Camera Settings: Capturing the magic of a Whimsical Wonderland requires a playful approach to photography. A wider aperture (around f/2.8) can create a dreamy, soft-focus effect, especially around the edges of the frame, drawing attention to the baby and the immediate, whimsical props. Playing with angles and perspectives can add to the fantastical feel, perhaps shooting from above to make the baby appear to be flying or from below to make them seem larger than life. The lighting is key to enhancing the colors and creating a bright, enchanting atmosphere that feels lifted from the pages of a storybook.

Baby's Fairy Tale Forest

Setting the Scene: Transform your home or studio into an enchanted forest by adding a backdrop painted in deep greens. You can even add life-sized faux trees, clusters of mushrooms, and a carpet of artificial moss to create a forest floor. A delicate, whimsical archway, entwined with flowers and soft fairy lights could serve as the centerpiece, inviting our little fairy or elf to explore.

Outfit and Props: For attire, think of ethereal fairy costumes for the girls or cheeky elf tunics for the boys, all in shades that complement the forest’s palette. Tiny, crafted headpieces, like flower crowns or elf hats, add a lovely touch.

As for props, a sprinkle of magic is essential—think of a lantern that could light the way for tiny feet or a magic wand that could probably turn acorns into gold. The attention to detail in these props not only enriches the scene but also sparks the imagination, allowing for genuine expressions of wonder and delight to be captured.

Camera Settings: In this fairy tale forest, the goal is to capture the ethereal quality of the scene, almost as if the photograph itself is a gateway to another realm. Try using a wider aperture (around f/2.8) to softly blur the background, focusing on the intricate details of the costume and the expressions of the child. A slower shutter speed might be used to capture the slight movements of the wings or leaves, adding a dynamic element to the stillness of the forest.

Bubble Bath 

After the cake has been thoroughly smashed, and the frosting has found its way into every nook and cranny, what better way to end a cake smash session than with a bubble bath splash?

Setting the Scene: In my Beverly Hills studio, I set up a vintage-style tub, big enough for the little one to sit comfortably but small enough to feel cozy. 

The beauty of the bubble bath photos is in their simplicity. Babies don’t need any special outfits for this part—just their big smile! Props are also minimal, maybe a few carefully selected toys to help keep the little ones engaged and happy.

Camera Settings: I use a medium aperture (around f/4 to f/5.6) and a quick shutter!

See my cake smash photography sessions and pricing here

Bonus Ideas for Cake Smash Photography Sessions

1. Garden Fairy Tale 

Take the cake smash outdoors to a garden for a fairy tale-inspired session. Decorate with floral garlands and use a natural setting as the backdrop to create a magical atmosphere. Dress the baby in a fairy or elf costume to complement the theme. This idea marries the beauty of nature with the whimsy of fairy tales, perfect for those looking for an outdoor, natural light session.

2. DIY Cake Smash – Bakery Chef Extravaganza 

Transform your studio into a mini bakery, complete with chef hats and aprons for the little ones. Use props like wooden spoons, mixing bowls, and a little table set up with flour and a small rolling pin. The smash cake can be styled to look like it’s part of the baking process, offering a delightful twist on the traditional cake smash photography.

3. Vintage Airplane Pilot 

For an adventurous twist, style the session around a vintage airplane theme. Dress the baby as a pilot, complete with a leather jacket and scarf. Use a cardboard or wooden airplane as a prop and create a backdrop that resembles the sky or an old-time airport. This idea is perfect for capturing the spirit of adventure and exploration on their 1st birthday.

4. Under the Sea Adventure 

Dive into an under-the-sea themed cake smash session with ocean-colored decorations, mermaid or fish costumes, and aquatic props. Think about using blue and green tulle to simulate water and sea creatures as decorative elements. This theme is a wonderful way to celebrate a 1st birthday with a splash, bringing the enchantment of the ocean indoors.

5. Seasonal Celebrations – Check Pinterest! 

Tailor the cake smash session to the season in which the baby’s 1st birthday falls. Use autumn leaves and pumpkins for a fall birthday, flowers and bunnies for spring, beach balls and sandcastles for summer, or snowflakes and cozy blankets for winter. This approach offers a personal touch that aligns the celebration closely with the time of year, making the photoshoot even more special.

See more ideas here on Pinterest

Planning Your Cake Smash Photo Shoot with Baby and Newborn Photographer Ramina Magid in Los Angeles

These 1st birthday cake smash sessions are held in my studio, where I create a whimsical and fun environment tailored just for your little one. 

From the moment you step into my studio, you’ll find an array of beautiful dresses, tutu skirts, dapper outfits for boys, and charming cake accessories, all designed to make your baby’s cake smash photoshoot unforgettable. While I provide all the props, setup, and décor, please note that the cake is not included in the session.

Ideal Timing and Age Considerations

The perfect timing for a cake smash is crucial for capturing those precious, joyful moments. Ideally, scheduling the cake smash about one month before the actual birthday ensures that babies are usually not walking yet and are less likely to be wary of strangers. This timing helps in creating a comfortable and engaging session for your baby.

Session Flow

On the day of the session, we’ll start with portrait photos of your baby in a beautiful outfit, capturing their innocence and charm before the cake smashing begins. After the portraits, we’ll dive into the fun part—the cake smash—followed by a delightful bubble bath to clean up and capture more adorable moments. The unpredictability of cake smash sessions adds to the excitement, guaranteeing a unique and enjoyable experience every time.

Scheduling Tips

For the best experience, I recommend scheduling the cake smash session after your baby’s first nap. Most baby photo sessions in my studio take place mid-morning, capitalizing on the time when babies are usually most alert and happy. It’s important to consider your baby’s routine and choose a time when they are well-rested and in a good mood.

Preparing Your Baby

Some babies might find the texture of the cake unusual or unsettling. To ensure a smooth session, it’s a good idea to familiarize your baby with the texture beforehand. A little pre-session cake exploration can go a long way in making the actual cake smash photoshoot a success.

Choosing the Right Cake

The cake plays a starring role in the cake smash photoshoot, and choosing the right one can make all the difference. I recommend opting for buttercream-frosted cakes as they work best for smashing and create the most photo-worthy moments. Please avoid red colored cakes and chocolate cakes, as they tend not to photograph well. The goal is to have a cake that looks as adorable in photos as your baby will smashing it!

See more tips for documenting your baby’s first cake smash session here.

For Photographers

I’m thrilled to extend my expertise and offer private mentoring sessions for photographers who are eager to refine their skills in newborn photography and cake smash photography. 

These sessions are designed to provide you with personalized guidance, practical advice, and hands-on experience. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to enhance your existing skills, my mentoring sessions cover everything from setting up the perfect shot to baby safety and working with colors and props for both newborns and cake smash sessions.


When is the best time to book a smash session for my baby’s 1st birthday pictures?

The ideal time to book a smash session for your baby is about one month before their actual 1st birthday. This timing ensures they are likely not walking yet, reducing the risk of them walking away from the setup, and helps avoid the “stranger danger” phase for a smoother session.

Do I need to provide the cake for the cake smash?

While I provide all the props, set up, and décor for the session, parents are responsible for bringing the cake. This is to ensure that any dietary restrictions or allergies can be accommodated, and you’d have the freedom to choose a cake that aligns with your vision for the session.

What type of cake works best for a messy cake smash?

Buttercream frosted cakes are recommended as they create the perfect ‘puff’ and mess for the smash. It’s best to avoid red icing and chocolate cakes, as they might not photograph well and can present a choking hazard or look less appealing in pictures. 

What should I do if my baby has an allergy?

If your baby has any allergies, please ensure the cake you provide is safe for them. We also suggest bringing snacks or alternatives your baby can chew on safely if the cake isn’t suitable for them.

What happens if my baby doesn’t want to get messy or eat the cake?

It’s not uncommon for some babies to be hesitant about getting messy or eating the cake. We can try different approaches to encourage them gently, but if they’re still not interested, that’s okay! The session can still capture adorable moments without the mess.

See more FAQ’s here.

Ramina Magid Newborn and Family Photography Los Angeles

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, my studio in Beverly Hills specializes in family photography, cake smash photography, baby photography and newborn photography, I am fully am fully licensed, insured, trained on newborn safety and would be honored to be considered for capturing your family’s special moments. 

See my reviews here and contact me today to schedule your shoot and begin the journey of capturing your family’s precious story in the most beautiful way possible. My Los Angeles photography studio is located in Beverly Hills at 1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035.


To conclude, I hope you feel inspired and excited to celebrate your baby’s 1st birthday with a first birthday photo session! From the serene elegance of a classic setup to the vibrant energy of a themed smash session, the possibilities to showcase your baby’s personality are endless. 

As a baby and newborn photographer who has had the privilege of witnessing countless first birthday celebrations, from the quiet moments of anticipation to the uproarious laughter that follows a face full of cake, I can’t emphasize enough the joy that these sessions bring. 

Feel free to contact me to schedule your session! Here’s to celebrating the milestone that is your baby’s first year, and to many more adventures that lie ahead.

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1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035, United States


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Ramina Magid Photography is a family, maternity, and newborn photography studio located in Los Angeles, CA, minutes away from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West LA. Ramina is a Los Angeles newborn photographer, baby photographer, and family photographer. Serving Los Angeles and surrounding cities including Burbank, Brentwood, Pasadena, La Canada, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Pacific Palisades, Santa Clarita, Van Nuys, West Hollywood, San Marino, Calabasas, San Bernardino, Malibu, Altadena, Covina, Alhambra, Granada Hills, Marina Del Rey, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, and all other communities in Southern California.