Wedding Wednesday: How to Photograph a Wedding Cake

It is traditional to have a cake at a wedding and the bride and groom often spend a lot of time choosing a cake and invest a sizable chunk of money in a good baker. If you photograph weddings, your clients will thank you for documenting this piece of their wedding, as will the person who baked the cake. Photographing a cake is pretty easy and does not take very much time to get a few great shots.

Here are seven tips on how to photograph a wedding cake successfully.

Tip #1: Use a longer lens.

Using a long lens will help you to get a more professional looking shot. I would consider a long lens anything from 100-200mm in this case. The longer the lens, the more blur you will get out of the background. This will help you keep the cake as the focus of the shot. The long lens will also help you show the accurate proportions of the cake, as wide lenses can distort the view.

Tip #2: Shooting low apertures.

It’s OK to shoot at wide open apertures, but keep in mind that less of the cake will be in focus. If you are using a long lens, this will be less of an issue because you should be able to keep the whole cake in focus while throwing the background out of focus. Normal focal lengths will require higher apertures for focus. Also, sometimes a dark reception venue will make you want to shoot wide-open. Just remember to check that everything that you want to be in focus is in focus.

Tip #3: Make use of natural light.

If the cake has plenty of light on it — for example, it is sitting by a window — you can use this light for your photograph. Position yourself at about a 90-degree angle to the source of the light. This will give you some highlight areas and some shadow areas and allow your photos to show some texture in the cake. Do not photograph with the light behind the cake or directly behind your camera.

Tip #4: Light from the side.

If you don’t have natural light to work with, you can use a Speedlight or some other source of light. Similarly, place the light about 90 degrees from where you are photographing from, so it hits the cake from the side. This will give you light and dark areas, and a nice gradation across the sides of the cake.

Tip #5: Find the best angle.

Depending on the size, shape, and height of the cake there will be certain angles that look better than others. Hunt around to determine whether you should be shooting from above, from level ground, head on, at a 45-degree angle to the corners… whatever looks best.

Tip #6: Get a detail shot or two.

Much of the craftsmanship that goes into making a wedding cake is in the details. Break out a macro lens if necessary to capture some of these details in the frosting, in the decoration, or in the topper. Most of the time you can use the same lighting and angles to capture the details as you did for the wider shots. Continue to use the side lighting.

Tip #7: Look for interesting accessories.

There are typically other things around the cake that can add to your shots. Look for flowers, cutting utensils, or champagne flutes that are surrounding the cake. Many times there are things that have personal significance to the bride and groom sitting near the cake. Documenting these items as well can be important to the couple. Stage the scene as necessary—these things are not always arranged in the best way for a photo.

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What kind of gear do you use for a cake shot? How do you use it?

September 17, 2014
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Wedding Wednesday: How to Photograph a Wedding Cake