There are many things on a wedding day that deserve the attention of you and your BFF (your camera, obviously). The bride, the groom, the venue, but what about the cake?
Wedding cake pictures may not make the list of essential wedding portraits, but here’s why you, as the wedding photographer, should care about them.
One: Ummm hello? It’s cake.
Sure, there are those people who call themselves humans (suspect) that say they don’t like cake. But for the rest of us, a tier wedding cake is something we’ll want to devour, and then look at pictures fondly remembering the time we devoured it.
Then, of course, the thoughtful creativity (and money) that went into it.
Plus, the baker will love you (and maybe refer you) when you send them incredible wedding cake pictures. Not to mention, editors of wedding blogs eat them up (pun absolutely intended).
So, really, why wouldn’t you give the wedding cake a little love?
Top Tips for Photographing Wedding Cakes
When you turn your seasoned wedding photographer energy toward that cake, how do you knock it out of the park? The photos. Not the actual cake.
Good wedding cake pictures leave your bride and groom practically tasting their sweet, sweet cake years into the future. But there are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re mulling through all of your creative wedding photography ideas.
Figure Out the Timeline
You’re going to want to get ahead of this one.
Talk with your couple, get in touch with the venue, and figure out what the heck the timeline is going to be.
Ideally, you’ll photograph the cake soon after it gets set up. That’s when it will be looking its freshest, but also (and most importantly) you won’t have to work around the guests. And the guests will be hungry, my friend.
Oh sure, they’ll be hungry for that salmon, chicken, or tofu dish they’ll get served up later, but what they really want is the delicious wedding cake. They’ll be swinging by to take a peek as soon as they’re allowed in that reception space, making it much harder to get those gorgeous wedding cake shots.
So skip the part where you throw some elbows at the guests and figure out when the cake will be delivered.
This is another one you’ll want to take care of before the actual wedding day.
Figure out where the wedding cake will be placed. Sometimes the couple will have a specific vision for this, but most of the time, the wedding venue will have a typical wedding cake spot.
You’ll want to know if this spot has an appealing backdrop and if it gets natural light. If it has both of those things, you’re on your way to nailing that wedding cake photo. Hurray for you!
However, if neither the venue nor the couple was paying attention to light or surroundings when deciding where to put that queen of dessert, you may want to step in.
See if the bride and groom (and the venue) would be open to moving the cake to a more attractive location.
As I said, it’s not the main thing at the wedding (isn’t it, though?), but it does deserve a little thoughtful attention.
Work the Lighting
Hopefully, the cake is now in a place where it’s getting fabulous diffused natural lighting whilst also being surrounded by jaw-dropping decor.
If you find yourself in circumstances that aren’t quite that ideal, then work your lighting, friend.
Grab a light diffuser for your off-camera flash to create a bright, soft light that illuminates all those good, cake-y details. Or, if your clients have set up LED string lights or fairy lights surrounding the wedding cake, then use those to set the ambiance in your photos.
You can also play with some background light to grab a fun silhouette of the cake.
Try to use the light available to you in the best possible ways, but when in doubt, off-camera flashes out.
Adjust Background if Necessary
So, let’s say you forgot to check in about the wedding cake placement, or maybe you did check-in, but when you arrive, the arrangement isn’t quite as described.
Don’t stress. See if you can adjust the background. Ask if you can move the cake, but for the love of frosting, please don’t do it yourself!
First, you’ll want to ask if this is even a possibility, then you’ll want to scout a worthy alternative background, and finally, you’ll want to ask the event team to temporarily relocate the cake (pretty please).
If that’s not an option, see if there’s a sheet you can borrow to hang behind the cake to create a background sans outlets, plugins, and endless wires.
Do something so you’re not forced to contend with some ugly additions to your photo in post-processing.
Frame It Up
Once you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to work your magic.
With wedding cake pictures, it’s all about how you frame it. Be sure to get a few landscapes and portrait shots, you know… to please the wedding album gods.
You’ll also want to cover all over your bases with wide, medium, and tight shots.
Capture the ambiance and the story with some wide shots, and then move closer to get all the delicious (literally) details. Wedding cakes have been thought out. So the details that your couple has included are essential.
Make sure to capture all of that personality!
Try shooting through something if you’re struggling to make your wedding cake pictures interesting. Experiment with a few champagne glasses, and see if you can’t create some fun effects in the foreground.
Talk with Your Couple
Before you get into the cutting the cake photos, you’ll want to chat with your wedding couple.
Help them figure out where they’re going to stand. What will come naturally is to simply walk up to the cake and start cutting. But if they do that, they’ll be standing with their back to you and all of their guests.
Coach them a bit about how all this should go down. It is their first time, of course.
Let them know they’ll need to go around to the back of the cake so they can stand facing their guests. They should also be staggered by height. Likely, the groom will stand behind the bride so they can get cozy while cutting the cake and so everyone can see their beautiful faces.
Also, tell them to take it slow. You’ll want to grab this moment, so remind them not to rush through it.
It’s All About the Action
Do you know what a wedding couple and a one-year-old have in common? They love a good cake smash.
Make sure you’re ready to go once your bride and groom make their way over to the cake table. You won’t be able to get a second shot at this (and the guests will start a mutiny if you try to slow the cake service down).
Your settings should be somewhat dialed in since you’ve been shooting in this light, but it’s always a good idea to double-check.
Then, shoot away! If you can, try to grab both portrait and landscape shots of the action!
Share with the Cake Vendor
After you’ve done all the work to grab photographing wedding cakes that your client will drool over, make sure you get them just right in post-production.
Your final step will be to send these babies to your client, but don’t forget to include the cake vendor!
Yes, you captured these gorgeous photos, and your bride and groom commissioned everything, but the baker was the artist who brought it all together.
Too often, vendors are neglected after the wedding, but this is your chance to build a good relationship with the industry professionals in your area. Build goodwill and throw a few wedding cake photos the baker’s way.
They don’t often have access to high-quality photos of their finished products getting used. Share them on social and tag the cake vendor.
There’s a good chance they’ll share it, and you know what? That totally counts as networking.