Congratulations Mom & Dad! You made it through the first year of parenthood. Some of the hardest months of being a new parent now lie behind you!
I am so grateful that many of my newborn clients decide to celebrate their little one’s 1st birthday and big milestone with a photoshoot. One of the most frequently asked question before the shoot is… What should we do for the shoot?
In the USA and Canada cake smashes are a big theme for 1st birthdays. But let me fill you in on the truth about cake smashes, which I have learnt after a few years of photographing 1st birthdays…
Most kids actually do NOT like smashing or even touching their birthday cakes. Often they even start crying because they don’t like the stickiness on their hands… Very much to the disappointment of their parents and especially older siblings (who cannot understand why they would not want to put their faces straight into all this sugar-loaded deliciousness). This is why I try to manage parents’ expectations and and always suggest a nice location or have some alternative ideas in case (which is about 60% of the time) their kids are not actually interested in smashing a cake.
If parents are still set on a cake smash, of course we will go for it. But I also like to suggest the following alternatives to parents who are open to it:
- Consider a family shoot with the focus on the birthday boy/girl and his/her connection to the parents and siblings instead. This will give you a lot more variety and memories to treasure and share for years to come.
- Consider an alternative to the cake, something that your kids really enjoy, like fruits, flowers or shells. In the case of this example it was watermelons. Much healthier than cake and the birthday girl's favourite fruit on top of it! Bonus: watermelons have amazing colours that look great in the final edited images.
Some other KEY TIPS to consider for a successful 1st birthday shoot:
- The location: In Grand Cayman we are spoilt with beautiful natural backdrops for our family photos, whether it is 7 Mile Beach, some of the more rustic beaches, the ironshore or one of the open fields, there are lots of options. In the examples below you will see a beach as well as a field (“forest”) location in the Cayman Islands.
- The timing: This is probably the most important component to consider. And there are actually three parts to the timing:
- Setting the Date: Parents often book their session for the actual birthday to commemorate this special milestone for their child, which is awesome. Another option is to book the shoot around 2 weeks prior to the actual birthday, so that I have time to edit the photos and parents have them ready to post or share with family on the day. Obviously the choice is entirely up to you!
- Session Length: At 1 years of age children have a very short attention span, so typically they do not last much longer than 30-45mins, which is exactly the timeframe I work towards getting a variety of different pictures.
- Time Of The Day: This is key! Are you kids early risers or do they stay up late? If your kids rise early and also go to bed pretty early (which is generally the case at 1 years of age), I often suggest doing a sunrise session, where they are generally more happy and content than later in the evening when we are pushing their bedtime. It also depends on the time of the year. In the autumn and winter months when the sun sets at around 5.30pm and we can start ate 4.45pm they are usually fine. However in the summer months when sunset is only at around 7.30pm I highly recommend considering the morning. Read more about Pros and Cons for Sunrise and Sunset Sessions in one of my other blog posts.
- The Decor: If you have a specific theme in mind please chat to me about it and we can see what we can put together. Especially living in the Cayman Islands getting stuff on island is not as quick and easy as it is in the USA or Europe. However, I like to add that I strongly believe less is more. I love simplicity and focussing on your child and family connection and the natural beauty of this island without distractions from props. If you are unsure what to wear, have a look at this guide.
Below you will see examples from 3 different 1st birthday shoots (all done in the early morning):
The first one is a cake smash alternative - I called it the “The Watermelon Smash”; the second one is a very natural Mother and Son session with barely any props and the third one is a Family Beach session, which doubled up as a family and even maternity shoot.