When a photo session includes babies or toddlers, the best thing to do is to expect the unexpected – their behaviour is as predictable as the Cape Town weather. But there is a couple of things you can do to swing the odds in your favour.
Tip 1: Discuss any allergies and conditions with your photographer.
Babies can be allergic to eggs or gluten and it’s extremely important for us to know this, but we also need to know about medical conditions. For example, at the end of the cake smash we give your baby a bubble bath to help with the cleaning up as well as giving us more photo opportunities. But if your baby has eczema, we will omit the bubble as it may aggravate the condition.
Tip 2: About a week before the session, give your baby a cupcake to play with.
This will achieve two things. Firstly, it will get your baby used to the texture of the icing sugar otherwise they might get freaked out a bit on the big day. Secondly, up until now your baby has probably not been exposed to sugar that much and they will need to get used to the sweetness a little. BUT don’t be alarmed about the sugar intake on the day, they actually eat very little cake or icing.
Tip 3: Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
If you show up late, you will have less time in front the camera. Your session is scheduled for a specific time slot and we will probably have a session after you or the first thing the next morning. So after you leave we jump into clean up mode and then do the setup for the next session.
Tip 4: Bring along a favourite toy but keep it hidden.
If you little sees it, it may end up in every single photo. But we can always use that to help them settle in in a new environment if we need too.
Tip 5: Bring bite size snacks along.
Again, we are going to play the hiding game! Sometimes babies can be a bit hesitant to dig into the cake. Hiding a snack may help to get them started.
Tip 6: Bring along a set of clean clothes for you.
Cake smashes are messy and you will have some icing on you at the end of the session. So we recommend bringing a set of clean clothes for everyone.
Bonus tip: Have fun!
This is a big moment for you as parents – you survived year 1! Relax, have fun and celebrate this moment.
When I opened the studio two years ago, it was to specialize in children’s photography. I wanted to capture all the different ages and stages, turning these fleeting moments into a bunch of memories for parents. I quickly realised a couple of things:
Newborns are adorable and don’t have to do a thing to look cute.
For sitter sessions, there is a set of milestones that you can capture – playing with the toes, tummy time, sitting unassisted – and with their big eyes and perfect skin, they photograph beautifully.
Preschoolers can take direction fairly well, but you need to keep the session short, and you need to have a plan for the session ready.
Toddlers! Oh man, I wasn’t so fond of toddler sessions until I figured out the reason. Now they are my favourite age group!
Toddlers are curious, and they love to play and have fun. Sitting still while being coaxed into smiling at a lady with a big black thing in front of her face is just not doing it for them.
THAT was when we decided to offer our activity based photo sessions for toddlers.
For one-year-olds, cake smashes were the obvious answer, but that does not work that well with a two-year-old. So we started thinking about activities that toddlers love.
Have you ever met a toddler that does not love to make a mess? I certainly haven’t! So we decided to give them old fashioned school paint (100% kiddie friendly, non-toxic and easy to clean), a small canvas and a safe space where they can do whatever they want. And paint splashes were born!
Here are a couple of essential things to know about these sessions:
It is perfect for children up to 6 years old.
All sessions include portraits with the parents and siblings as well as of the little one on his/her own before we start with the paint splash.
We include the decor and an outfit for the session based on the theme chosen by you.
During the session, your little one will get a 20×20 cm canvas to paint on. After the session, we will treat the canvas with lacquer, and you will be able to collect the canvas within seven working days.
We would love to have you and your little one in the studio for one of our activity based sessions. Contact us today to book your session!
On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for you to raise a child with a good self-esteem? I thought so!
Did you know that printing and displaying family portraits is a great way to build self-esteem in children? Seeing photos of them and their family members on a regular basis helps children feel loved, secure and valued. It also helps them to see the strong family bonds that exists, something that will give them confidence in years to come.
We all have hundreds of digital photos on our phones, computers and hard drives. But how often do our children see them? How often do we look at them?
Have some of them printed, you and your family deserve it!
Apart from maybe cats, toddlers can be the most uncooperative beings on earth. They know exactly what you would like them to do but if they are not in the mood, you can forget it! But when you specialise in photographing toddlers, you learn a couple of tricks along the way that makes your job easier and give parents the photos they will treasure for years to come.
Here is my big 5.
Toddlers are busy, they want to run and play. Sitting still and smiling at someone they’ve never met before is not really their idea of fun.
We use a variety of chairs, buckets and props to keep them in the same spot (for a couple of seconds).
Give them something to hold
Toddlers need to be kept interested in what is happening around them. Most of the times we give them balloons to play with and they quickly figure out that if they drop the balloon, Norman will pick it up and it turns into a lovely game.
One of my favourite tricks is to give them letters that spell their age. The different shapes keep them interested and it creates a lovely keepsake for the parents
Surprise them into a smile
Asking toddlers to smile is not a great idea – they will either ignore you or grin at you. The better thing to do is to surprise them into a smile. How? Ask them silly questions or ask them to make a silly/angry face or even sing a song from their favourite TV show.
Give them something fun to do
When toddlers do something they enjoy the smiles will happen. But you will capture so much more than just a smile. Toddlers have such a huge range of facial expressions and this environment will allow their personalities to come through.
None of us wants to admit it, but bribery takes place in every household. And whilst it may work to offer Junior an ice cream if he picks up his toys that are strewn over the living room carpet, at photo sessions it is actually something you should NOT do. Bribery makes me the “bad guy” because I’m the one standing between them and getting that treat.
The very first thing I will ask you when you are ready to book a Cake Smash session with me is do you have a colour scheme or theme in mind. So how do you pick one?
Sometimes it’s simple – little Kiah Rose loves Peppa Pig so we created a set-up for her based around Peppa, we even added some plush toys we found. I think using something your child loves as a base for the theme is a great way to personalise your session.
Maybe you want to print some of the images and use it as decor in your house or in your little ones room? Then I would suggest using a colour that will fit in with the current decor.
Whatever theme or colour scheme you select, we will create a beautiful set-up for you and it will be a fun way to celebrate this important day. But to make things even easier, we are working on creating a catalog of themes that you can just select from.
So watch this space and let us know in the comment section if there is a theme you would like to see in our list.
Apart from the birthday boy/girl, the cake is probably the most important aspect of the Cake Smash session.
Here are some tips to pick the perfect cake for your session:
It must be cute and fit in with your theme.
Stick to vanilla cake. Chocolate and red velvet cake can very easily look like blood or … – I think you know what I mean and I don’t have to say anything else!
Soft icing. Butter cream is the best! It is soft and perfect for little hands to make a mess with. Once again, stay away from red or brown icing.
Use only edibles. Stay away from using toothpicks or anything sharp and not edible when decorating the cake, we don’t want any accidents!
Food allergies. Chances are high that your baby has not had cake before and we do not want to run into a medical problem on the day of the Cake Smash. It would be ideal to give your little one a cupcake in the week leading up to the session so that we can eliminate any ingredients your little one is allergic to.
Do you want some great news?
If you book a Cake Smash session with Michelle Koekemoer Photography you don’t have to worry about the first four on that list! Our cake smash package includes the cake and we will take care of it all.
“I’m actually going to have a good photo of my daughter!” – Duncan
Carol really wanted to have some photos of her and her daughter. The problem is that Elora (apparently) hates having her photo taken. Even on the morning of the session, Carol and Duncan seemed very skeptical about our chances of having a successful session.
But the thing with children is that they seem to enjoy surprising their parents and Elora blew their socks off. She loved all the attention and turned into a real little model prompting Dad to blurt out, “I’m actually going to have a good photo of my daughter!”
Why was the outcome so different from their expectations? The key to having a successful session with children lies in three things:
Make them feel safe. Elora brought one of her favorite toys along, something her Granny made for her. By including this in the earlier pictures we created a safe space for her.
Have some fun! During this session Carol and Elora had a little “let’s make funny faces” competition. Even if those are not photos that you will want to show the world, it helps your child relax. If they see you having fun, they will mimic you.
Keep it short. With children you have 30 minutes for a session, if you’re lucky! After this they will just decide that they are done. From the moment you walk into the studio or arrive at the location, we (the photography team and the parents) need to create a relaxed environment for them so that their natural personality shines through.
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When my Mom turned 60 I wanted to bake her a cake.
After some online searching I decided on a layered vanilla and red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. It looked both beautiful and easy to make. I’m definitely not Buddy the cake boss!
Now I know that baking red velvet cakes can be a bit tricky so I cheated (a lot) and bought pre-made batters from a local baking supply shop. Everything went smoothly until I started to assemble the layers. By the time I had all four layers on top of each other and iced, the cake started to pull a Tower of Pisa on me. The entire family, including my Mom, entered cake rescue mode but nothing we tried worked. In the end we broke the cake into chunks, placed it on a plate, covered it with lots of frosting and called it the Rocky Road Cake.
Even though it looked nothing like my original idea, the cake was delicious, my Mom loved it and it was most definitely unique.
The entire experience reminded me of family photo sessions. As photographers we always go into a session with an idea of what images we would like to create for our clients. We create mental lists of poses and compositions we want to use during the session. But with children, those lists really mean nothing. They won’t smile when you want them to and they will probably run around in stead of sitting still. They decide what will happen and they also decide when they had enough. As photographers and parents we just need to roll with the punches and try and get the most we can out of the session.
That is also the beauty of photographing children. Their emotions are honest and the moments are real. They probably won’t give you the images you had in mind, but the images will be unique. Years later you will look back at these and you will see how their personalities came through from day one.
And isn’t that a lot more special than having a set of photos where they are sporting fake smiles? Just like having a “Rocky Road Cake” for your 60th.
Send us a message if you would like to book a session with Michelle Koekemoer Photography, we promise you fun times and beautiful memories.
I have frizzy hair. Sometimes it is curly. Other times it is wavy. Most of the times it just out-of-control frizzy. Add to that the fact that I live in Cape Town and you will know that winters are a nightmare for me. I recently got a Brazilian blowout and let’s just say I am wearing hats and beanies a lot less than previous winters!
I absolutely loved the entire experience and will support this small business owner as much as I can. Problem for her is that I will only need a Brazilian every 4 months.
Most of us small business owners are in the same boat; we don’t supply a product or service you need on a monthly basis. Think about jewelry pieces, beautiful leather handbags and wedding vendors. For us the biggest challenge is to continuously create awareness regarding our products and brands.
But the fantastic news is that you can still help us without spending a cent! With Facebook, it is as easy as 1-2-3!
1. Comment on our posts regularly, even if it is just an emoji. 2. Share our posts on your own wall. Tagging friends that might be interested in what we offer is even better! 3. Instead of “liking” our posts, show some “love” or “wow”.
On behalf of all small business owners, thank you for your support!
Is your little one turning 1? Are you looking for a special way to celebrate this wonderful occasion?
Let me introduce the Cake Smash!
A cake smash is when a 1 year old gets very messy with a cake and we capture all the moments for you. This is such a relaxed session for everyone involved – I’m convinced that parents have the most fun out of everyone! These sessions are most definitely our favourite.
A cake smash session involves much more than a toddler getting messy though. The session starts with portrait of the entire family and then of the toddler. To not destroy your car as well, we give you a hand with the clean-up process by giving your little one a milk bath afterwards.
I would love to share this family milestone with you! You can contact us here to book your session.