Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Create a Professional Looking Photo Shoot At Home

I cannot believe my baby Val is one year old today! I wanted to capture her sweet baby face on this day in a special way, so I decided to go all out and do a photo shoot unlike any I have done before. Usually I just stick the kids in some cute clothes and find some natural light, but this one I planned down to the time of the day. 

I wanted to share with you all how I went about putting together this "cake smash" photo shoot (there wasn't much cake smashing in the end, but I didn't care) so here is what went into this magical shoot.

When I photograph the girls I shoot only with natural light, so I needed to figure out what time of day worked the best for shooting in my kitchen. I like to shoot in the kitchen because I have a wall of glass doors that allows a lot of light to come in, and there is a blank wall where I can hang backdrops or props if need be. Usually I shoot in the late afternoon, but Val is pretty cranky then so I didn't want to have to deal with a diva on my set. I had to try and time the shoot for within an hour of when Val got up from her morning nap, so I had everything ready to go for around 11:30 today. And it just happen to be a gorgeous sunny day today so everything seemed to fall into place perfectly!

Fabric Banner: I have seen a lot of baby photos lately with this fabric scrap banner thing hanging in the background, so I figured I would give that a try this time around. I have SO many scraps of fabric in my studio, and had this shipment of excess scrap fabric from a fabulous fashion line called Moxie and Mabel that has been sitting around, so I was happy to finally put it to good use! You can check out their Etsy site if you are interested by clicking here.  The way that I made it is exactly like I make my "no-sew" tutus. I have tutorial on the blog, so click here to refresh your memory. The one I made for this photo shoot was about 4 feet long in length, and I secured it to the wall with thumbtacks.

Vinyl Floor Drop: If you are doing an at home cake smash photo shoot, I highly recommend investing in a vinyl floor/back drop. I got this one on Etsy last year and have used it for many photo shoots with the girls. Just throw it down on the floor, let the kid get messy and then wipe it off. So easy. No worrying about ruining your own hardwood floor with the dye from the icing. They are a little pricey, but are great to have if you take a lot of photos at home.

Cake: Oh the cake! I wasn't planning to make it myself, but I am the kind of person that thinks that if I put my mind to it (and find a tutorial online), I can do anything (crafty, that is). I did some research on YouTube and found an easy way to make an ombre iced cake:

I followed her directions for the most part, but didn't have a flat plate on which to place the cake, so I got creative at the bottom and just did dots (I guess that is the opposite of getting creative). This cake is 4 layers of 9 inch round cakes. In doing research on how to ice cakes, I did learn that you have to put a "crumb coat" of icing on the cake before you actually decorate it for real. This is basically a thin layer of icing that you put all over the cake, and then you place the cake in the fridge for a while until the icing hardens. This will give you a nice flat, crumb-free base to work with. This cake turned out a little lopsided, but I still think it is pretty great.
How cute is this cake!!!

Cake banner:
This I kind of came up with on my own. I have seen these before, but I decided to just wing it and create one without any help. I used Pixelmator to create the little pennant shapes with the letters in them, and then printed that out and cut out the triangle shapes. Then just backed them with some old Amy Butler cardstock I had in my studio, and finally strung them together using embroidery floss. I just attached the end of the string to some dowels I purchased at the craft store, and viola! Simple craft magic.

What wardrobe? I had three dresses that I wanted to shoot her in, and decided not to use any as I really loved how the props looked together and didn't want any more distractions. I ended up just putting her in this floral diaper cover that I purchased before M was born 4 years ago on Zulily. Finally one of them wore it! And I think it was perfect.

At the last minute I decided to run to iParty and purchase some shiny pink balloons to throw on the floor, and they were a nice added touch before the cake came out.

I think one of the most important things to have when doing this kind of shoot is an assistant! I was lucky enough to have my babysitter help me wrangle Val, and M was happy to kick balloons at Val's head. Ha. But seriously it is a tremendous help, when you are shooting babies or kids, to have someone to make faces or say their name that is not you, as you should be focusing on getting the best shot you can.

Some advice - take a bajillion photos! Don't stop shooting, because some of the best photos aren't the ones that you set up. One of my favorites is of her crawling away with pink icing on her foot.

Here is a slideshow of the entire shoot (the colors look a little contrasty in this slideshow for some reason):

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below as I am happy to help you create this magical set up yourself! I have actually already been asked to do this for someone's child, but don't think I will have the time to invest in doing this for other kids right now. Perhaps when summer is over, and M is back in school I will be offering my services to everyone though!


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  3. Some advice - take a bajillion photos! Don't stop shooting, because some of the best photos aren't the ones that you set up. One of my favorites is of her crawling away with pink icing on her foot.

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  6. I wanted to share with you all how I went about putting together this "cake smash" photo shoot (there wasn't much cake smashing in the end, but I didn't care) so here is what went into this magical shoot.