How to Photograph Cakes: 7 Simple Tips and Tricks

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Cake Decorating, Photography | Comments


Fellow cake decorating fanatics, have you ever been frustrated as to why your cake photo just doesn’t look like the ones in the magazines or on your favorite cake blogs? Have you ever wondered how to photograph cakes? We’re here to help!

For those of you have or are thinking of starting a cake decorating or design business, you know how important great photography is for your website and/or social media.

Believe it or not, even with simple digital cameras, you can achieve nice, simple and clean photos of your cakes. You can also get creative with your photos by throwing in a splash and dash of food styling, too, if you wish.

Photo of Cake with Yellow Piping and Mini Flag Garland Topper

Photos via Coco Cake Land

Here are some tips and tricks to help you photograph your cakes!

1. Spend a few minutes reading your camera manual or simply playing around with your camera.

I’m talking about a simple consumer point-and-shoot camera, that digital SLR you picked up on a whim, or even your smart phone — all consumer cameras have adjustable settings. Play around with your camera for a good while. Practice by photographing an apple on a plate, or whatever you have lying around. Don’t feel intimidated by it, just play around. The more comfortable you are with your camera and the more you experiment and try out what the different settings do, the better you will get at taking photos.

2. Use natural light.

Do you have a room in your home or cake studio that has an abundance of beautiful natural light? Choose a time of day when the light is bright in this room. Open the blinds and let the light shine in. I recommend using a plain white sheet or sheer white curtain to help filter the light, too, to cast a softer photograph.

Try a few different angles to take your photograph. You want the light in front of, to the left or the left side of your cake. Taking a photo in front of a window often leads to the cake being a dark silhouette. Basically you want to avoid using your camera’s flash, and you also want to choose natural light over any artificial light, such as your kitchen overhead lights. Try to take your cake photos in the day time. If that’s not possible, then still try and limit the use of your flash.

Photo of Cake Decorated with Piped Grass and Fondant Carrots

3. Eliminate background clutter.

Nothing ruins a nice beautiful cake like a cluttered background jammed up with your husband’s hockey bag and last night’s leftovers on the counter. If you’re photographing your cake on your kitchen table, for example, try using a large piece of poster board behind your cake as a backdrop. Buy pretty colored poster board, or cover it with fabric. You can also use a nice clean wall in your home as a backdrop.

Also, be sure to remove all the clutter (i.e. pots and pans, your bowl of keys, magazines, cups, whatever is lying around). You don’t want to detract the viewer’s eye from the pièce de résistance: your cake!

Close Up Photo of Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting

DO: Here, I used silver and black wrapping paper with a pretty lace print as my backdrop for this cupcake.

Dark Photo of Pie in Glass Pan

DON’T: This ugly pie photo was taken using an older model consumer grade simple digital camera, with the flash on and clutter in the background.

Close Up Photo of Cupcakes with White Frosting, Topped with Rasberries

DO: This photo was taken using the same camera as the pie photo, but with natural light in the afternoon, with the flash off and a vintage painting as the backdrop.

In the examples above, compare the one taken with a flash, and one taken with natural light. Using a flash creates shadows and floods the picture with unnatural light.

 4. Use a tripod.

Our hands naturally move and shake when we take photographs. A tripod allows you to take a photo without fear of camera shake. Don’t have a tripod and don’t want to spend the bucks to get one? Improvise! Balance and stabilize your camera on a stack of books or even the back of a chair. It will help you achieve clearer photos.

5. Achieve even MORE light by reflecting or “bouncing” light onto your cake.

Try using a large white piece of poster board (you can buy these at craft stores for a few dollars), or, if you want to get really fancy, you can purchase a professional photo reflector. Think of creating a cake sandwich with “natural light” bread. For example, say you have window light on one side, the cake in the middle, and the reflector on the other side, the reflector will bounce the window light onto the cake.

6. Style your cake.

Sometime you want to add a little jazz and pizazz to your cake photos. Have some fun with cake styling, especially if it’s for your own personal use or personal blog. I like to cut and slice a cake to show the insides, and style my cake photos with props, such as vintage cutlery, cake stands and plates. See examples below.

Photo of White Layered Cake with Slice Cut Out, on Plate

If your cake is for personal use and not for a client, you can cut slices out and hang up party decor as though you’re hosting a fete. I always like this style of photo, as it feels celebratory and informal.

Photo of Top of White Cupcake on Colorful Plate, Napkin and Fork

I used a vintage tea cup plate for my cupcake photo and arranged a simple fork on a stylish napkin. I call this photo “Cupcake Cyclops.”

7. Play around with your camera angles.

I’m a big fan of the bird’s-eye view for cake styling. Try moving your camera close to your cake for a detail closeup. On most point-and-shoot digital cameras, there is a macro setting (the icon is a tiny little tulip). Try snapping pictures with your camera both vertically and horizontally and see which photo you like better.

Top View Pink Piped Cake with Raspberry on Top

This pink buttercream piped cake is shot from a bird’s eye view for added interest.

Mini Cupcake with Cream Frosting and Fondant Heart Topper

This fondant heart topped cupcake is shot at a close angle to show more detail.

Now go show off those wonderful cake decorating techniques you learned on Craftsy with some beautiful photographs! And be sure to share them in Craftsy’s Projects section!

Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a special guest post by Craftsy instructor Rachael Teufel, who teaches the popular course Cake Design Made Simple: The Wedding Dress. She’ll reveal how she finds inspiration in a wedding gown and turns her cake idea from a sketch to reality!

Do you have any additional tips and tricks for photographing cakes?

Comments

  1. Thanks for these great tips.

  2. Ann says:

    Love the tips!

  3. Lyndsay Sung says:

    @lynn, so glad you found this helpful! thanks for leaving a comment!
    @ann, that’s wonderful! thank you!

  4. Amy says:

    Thanks for the tips, I knew se but not others.

    1. Lyndsay Sung says:

      @amy – you are very welcome! ^__^

  5. Angela says:

    Great ideas! I use poster board and unfortunately all my cakes are done at night so natural light doesn’t happen for me:( but love the ideas otherwise! I never thought about using props for them:)

    1. Lyndsay Sung says:

      @angela, awesome idea to use poster board – as long as your white balance is set correctly (to fluorescent/indoor lighting) all should be well! thanks so much for your comment! ^__^

  6. CakeGirl says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ll have to post this on my blog here: http://cakesofadifferentshape.blogspot.com/ :D

    1. Lyndsay Sung says:

      hi cakegirl! you are welcome, thanks for the comment and thank you for sharing the post, too! ^__^

  7. Thanks for your great tips, you gave me some good ideas to try out.

    1. Lyndsay Sung says:

      happy to hear it, cakes by sweet indulgence! stay tuned for more in this series! ^__^

  8. Tessa- Style Sweet CA says:

    Great read, Lyndsay! Loving all your posts lately ;)