I scroll past so many cakes on Instagram that look like they have potential but the photo just doesn’t do the cake any justice. The bad photo detracts completely from the cake. The colours aren’t true, and they look duller than they are in reality. But the only way to document food is to take pictures of it. There’s no other way. I’ve put together some tips and tricks that you can use to make your photos stand out.
- LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT
If you’re on a tight budget, then you have to make do with the tools at your disposal. That is, the sunshine. For a year, I baked super early in the morning so that I could be done before the sun set. (This is why I wish I lived in a constant summer). Otherwise I had to wait till the next day to take photos of it before I could cut into the cake!
Set up a table in front of a window. If there are any glaring beams from the sun, then just cover the window with a white sheet. You know, open it, stick the sheet in then shut it so that it hangs and covers the window.
Don’t face the window when taking your pictures. You’ll backlight your cake and make it seem much darker with a white halo around it. Instead, stand with the light to your side or back. This will brighten up the colours on the cake. The only problem with standing with the light to your back is that it can cast a shadow on the cake. Try it and play around with it, but the only way that I bypass that is to use a tripod. And again, if you’re on a budget a tripod doesn’t come cheap, so light from the side is the best way to go.
If the afternoon isn’t an option for you, then you probably have some lamps. Invest in some LED light bulbs. They don’t cost a lot, and if you use them only for your photos then they’ll last for ages.
- WHITE FOAM BOARD
This is one of my favourite things to use when I’m taking pictures of my cakes. It’s cheap, you can cut it to size, its very light and it’s easy to store. Sometimes when you have a very large or weird shaped cake or even quite a few things on your table there’s lots of strange shadows. It can really throw of the ‘balance’ of the photo. White foam board basically reflects light back onto the food. So if you have a friend to help you or you’re a balancing extraordinaire and can manage to set the foam board up then position it around the table so that the dark spots are lit up.
- SET THE SCENE
This is one of the most important points I make. We’ve all seen the pictures of a single cake on a brown wooden table. For one, I hate brown wooden tables. The brown is so warm that the colours on the cake can’t pop. I would strongly advise against using the brown background.
When you sell your cakes, it’s normally for a celebration. Let’s take a girls’ birthday party as an example. There are certain essentials at a birthday party. When you set the table up, it has pretty napkins next to a stack of cute small plates, bunting along the edge of the table, a happy birthday banner on the wall behind it, balloons floating about and a pretty tablecloth.
And truth be told, accessories are not expensive and you probably already have them deep inside one of your kitchen cupboards. If not, all of these things you can buy at a pound store. The only thing is that it takes a little extra time to set up the cake. But that extra time will reflect in your pictures. To sell the cake you have to think of the people buying it. So tell them a story!
- CAMERA/PHONE CAMERA
You don’t need a fancy camera. I used to use an Ipad Mini camera. I didn’t have a phone back then so that is what I made do with. Even now, I have a camera but it’s not one of the newer ones for sure. It’s not a DSLR (whatever that is) nor can it have separate lenses. It all depends on the amount of light available. And in my opinion, if you’re a beginner it makes you work harder and learn faster about the lighting needed for your cakes and also makes you work harder to set the scene better. Don’t go buying a ridiculously expensive camera complete with a ridiculous amount of time required to learn how to use it if you’re just starting out. Your phone camera is fine; just make sure there’s lots of light.
Why don’t some serious cake decorators make their cakes the best that they possibly can? Does a tailor leave the hems on a shirt unstitched? Does a cook miss out the essential spices in a curry? Yes I know those are awful examples but you get the point.
If you put your cakes on a silver board, then cover the board! If you are going to cover a cake with green sugarpaste, colour some extra so you have enough to cover the board. If you don’t want to use sugarpaste then cover the board with pretty card (here’s a tutorial) and then lay a food safe sticky plastic over it.
And what about the raw edges of the cake drum? Use some ribbon. www.theribbonroom.co.uk has amazing ribbons for really good prices. And that’s not sponsored by the way. I get my ribbons from there and they have a lovely selection. Ribbon will really finish your cake off.
So that’s that. Hope this helped! It’s all about putting a teeny tiny bit more effort in to really make your cakes stand out. Thanks for reading!