Cake Smash

Photographing a dog's birthday party when said dog (my Moose) is extremely food motivated and there is cake involved is hard! LOL! Moose had a great time!

Photographing a dog's birthday party when said dog (my Moose) is extremely food motivated and there is cake involved is hard! LOL! Moose had a great time!

Have you heard of a cake smash? They are popular for toddler birthday parties and for dog birthday parties. I wonder what % of the dogs in the US have had a cake smash party?

Well it just so happened that our Moose turned 11 on Friday March 30. We have noticed lately that he is slowing down. We are cherishing every moment with have with him and we (who am I kidding... it wasn't we it was me!) decided he needed to have a birthday party. I decided to try a cake smash with him. I've seen some other dog photographers post adorable cake smash photos. I could do this too, right?

This was my thought process:

I wanted to do a test run. My assistant Kelly was available to help me on Wednesday. I went to the doggy bakery and bought 2 small cakes. I set up my studio in my garage and my lighting. I took a few shots of the cake to ensure the lighting was right. Since I only had one assistant that meant the lighting was on a stand. In other words, I needed the cake and Moose to be positioned in a particular spot for this set up to work because my lighting wouldn't change. Once I had it right, Kelly brought out Moose.

We'd removed the cake so I could take a few photos of Moose. I wanted to try and get a couple decent photos of him before the mayhem would begin once he knew he was getting cake.

Moose is extremely food motivated. He always has been. He smelled the cake and picked it up and ate it in one bite. (see unedited / untouched photo below) It was the size of my palm so was an easy snack for my 90lb dog to gobble down. The next photo is the only decent one I got. Keep reading to see several outtakes from the party. 

Needless to say, I didn't get the photos I thought I would.

Lesson Learned: when doing a cake smash with a very food motivated dog, I need to be ready to snap photos very quickly.

We then let Molly out and she licked up the remains. My favorite photo from these efforts is probably this next one of her licking the cake stand.

So, fast forward two days to Moose's birthday. Kelly wasn't available to help me but Don (my hubby) was so I set up my studio in the garage again and got my lighting set. I was doing this with the garage door open (that point is key in the next part of this story.)

I snapped a few photos of the cake and made certain my lighting was right. I knew I was going to need to work quickly but this cake was bigger so I knew Moose wouldn't eat it in one bite. Right??

I told Don I was ready and that he could bring Moose out. I wanted Moose leashed up so we could try and position him in front of the backdrop. 

This was my first attempt doing studio work in my garage. This is the only roll of paper that I have and it's not really the right size. They make wider rolls which is ideal for working with a dog that is going to move around. In some of the outtakes below, you can see that Moose moved so I re-positioned myself and you can see my garage. In an ideal world, that's not supposed to happen.

2nd Lesson Learned: get wider paper and find some place to store it which is why I didn't buy wider paper in the first place.

I was ready. The lighting was positioned where it needed to be (remember it's on a stand so it's stationary.) I told Don he could bring Moose out.

Well.... Moose acted like Moose and Molly didn't want to be left out so this is what happened. Moose barged out the door, smelled the cake and pulled Don out into the garage. Molly squeezed through the door too and now she is outside free (remember the garage door is open.) Don drops Moose's leash (he wasn't going anywhere except straight for the cake) and Don tries to capture Molly. 

Moose grabs the entire cake and it's hanging out of his mouth. I would've thought it would have crumbled but it didn't. I grab the cake with my left hand because he certainly doesn't need to eat the entire thing in one bite. I have cake frosting all over my left hand and in the mean time Don is still trying to convince Molly that everything is okay but that she needs to go back in the house. 

He finally gets Molly in the house, I have him detach Moose's leash and we just let him eat the cake. I tried to grab what photos I could. I did manage to put a hat on him which normally he would've pulled off but he was too busy eating his cake. 

I had cake all over my left hand and I tried hard not to get it on my camera. I almost cried as all of this was going on but I took a deep breath and realized this was my chance to make the best of it.

The very 1st picture I took of Moose with his birthday cake. This was not what I was expecting to get. (unedited photo)

I'm thinking to myself, the cake smash photos are not going as planned! (unedited photo)

Needless to say, Moose loved the cake. Needless to say, this didn't go as I'd planned. He ate the cake. I took a few photos and the best one is the first photo in this post. The one of him licking up the crumbs.

When he finished, we put him in the house and brought Molly out and gave her the 2nd smaller cake I'd bought earlier in the week.

3rd Lesson Learned: I have mad respect for dog photographers who do this and pull it off. Especially if they pull it off with a client's dog and that pressure! This folks is yet another reason why hiring a professional photographer costs what it does. While fun (lots of fun), it's really hard to get decent photos. Really Hard.

This was a great learning experience and Moose had a great birthday. It is certainly one I'll always remember.