We cake decorators are gluttons for punishment. We spend countless hours slaving over tiny little details we hope people will appreciate – ones that will quickly be eaten and forgotten – unless captured in a photo. Photos are the only evidence we have of our artistic endeavors. Once the cake has been eaten, there are no photo-op do-overs. If you’ve been disappointed with dark pictures or ones that don’t reveal the detail of your hard work, here are some tips for improving the quality of your cake photos.
- Don’t let the background ruin the photo. That means no dirty dishes or pictures of the cake in the refrigerator. If you’re submitting a cake photo to a contest, these things completely distract the judge from being able to focus on the cake and are turn-offs.
- Finish Your Cake Board. A plain cardboard cake round or one covered with aluminum foil take away from the look of your cake. When covered with royal icing or fondant, the decoration and theme of your cake can be carried down to the cake board, enhancing the overall look of the cake.
- Create a back drop. You can either use a tri-fold cardboard backing in a solid color or hang a nice table cloth or other fabric up behind your cake. It’s a simple, cheap technique that will let your cake be the star of the photo. Choose colors that contrast the colors on the cake. So, if your cake is white, don’t use white fabric as a background or the decorations on the sides of the cake will just blend into the background.
- Good lighting. If you don’t have special lights then find a well-lit place to place the cake. If the weather is good outside, natural light works well. Using a quality camera with a flash will render much better photos than using an iPhone.
- Take plenty of pictures from different angles. If you take only photos of one side of a cake, you may discover later that that side had a crack in the fondant or something on the cake wasn’t as even as you thought. Take photos of all sides so you can pick the best one.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take better birthday cake photos. Eliminating the things that can ruin the photo and good lighting can make a big difference even for the amateur.
Theresa Happe is a cake decorator, author of Cakeswebake.com and a fan of Icing Images edible printing supplies.