Monday, November 29, 2010

Photographing Wedding Cakes

Everyone wants to have good pictures of their cakes, but most of us aren't professional photographers. I'm lucky that most of the photographers who I've met are willing to send professional shots of the cake if you just ask them. I post pro shots on my website with a link to the photographer's site when I can get them, but sometimes you can't get a professional photo. If that's the case, how can you maximize your chances to get good pictures of your cakes?

I find that the two major issues at reception sites are lighting and ugly backgrounds. To avoid these problems you can set up a lightbox and photograph the cake before it's delivered. If the cake needs to be assembled and finished at the reception site, though, you'll have to deal with the lighting available there.

I asked a few pro photographers for some tips, and they came up with a few ideas. To address the bad lighting issue, David Abel of David Abel Photography suggests moving the cake near a window so that you have soft, natural light. He said that you can't get better lighting than that.

Eric and Debbie Miller of Miller Photography also suggest bringing a neutral white backdrop of some sort to improve the lighting and mask any unattractive things in the background. (How many times have you had to worry about the fire extinguisher or air vent in the background of cake photos at venues?) Even a trifold board like the ones that you use for school science projects can be used for this.

The Millers also suggest that other idea for dealing with ugly backgrounds would be to try different angles to see if you can avoid the background, or try shooting down low or up above so that the camera lens is more
centered on the cake versus what is going on in the background. Shooting closeups of the cake or using a setting on the camera that will blur the background of the photo would also help. This can also be accomplished by using the flash to highlight the cake and throw the background into the shadows.

They also suggest moving things out of the background if possible, then replacing them after you're done photographing the cake. And the last suggestion, if all else fails, is to use photoshop to make background items disappear! Just don't go too far and start working on the cake itself, it should be so great-looking you don't need to do that! ;)

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA


Anonymous said...

great tips kara! you speak the truth!! it never fails that when i deliver a cake, set it up and start to take pics and discover there's something totally messing up the picture! i.e.- the wallpaper looks fabulous EVERYwhere else in the entire room but is peeling or stained right behind the cake OR the chair rail molding is running a dumb horizontal line behind the cake OR yes, one time had the fire extinguisher by the cake. lots of times its either an electrical outlet or light switch as well. arrrrgh!! don't have photoshop so i usually just try to crop the pic the best that i can. whenever i point these things out to people at the venue i get the same response "it's where we always set up the cakes". really?!?! hatehatehate it when the cake is in front of a window. the flash makes a glare on the window which is ESPECIALLY bad if the sun has already gone down and the window is dark then you absolutely have to use flash. don't know how the pros get around that one? guess lots of side shots, lol.
cindy/cindy's cakery

Jamie said...

I do almost whatever it takes to get my own pics. I want that cake on my website and Facebook NOW! I would go absolutely bonkers if I had to wait and hope and say pretty please for the photographer to send me one. Ugh! It's nice when I am granted access to pics from the professional taking pics that day, but I never rely on them. I'm just too obsessive about making sure the latest cakes are online as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

The bride and groom want great photos of their cake as well. I think the venue's staff should pay attention to what will appear in the background when they help couples plan their reception.

Kara said...

I have SO many pictures of cakes that have fire extinguishers, ugly electrical outlets, marked-up wallpaper, and windows with views of the parking lot behind them, and those are from nicer venues, too! I spoke to one photographer who didn't want me to use his name, who said that he had spoken up about the ugly background for the cake at one reception site. The owner of the site got really offended and stopped referring business to him! You'd think that people would want to make the overall experience good for the couple AND the other professionals there, and not play petty politics.

SweetThingsTO said...

Yup - I've got a few pictures of the wedding cake with a big no-smoking sign just behind it. Sometimes I mention it to the bride and groom to ask where it will be displayed and make sure they look for a nice wall backdrop. However, it is a hard thing for them to remember when planning every detail. I hope for the best and go with the different angles.