How to Photograph a Wedding Cake…+ Make More

One of the biggest frustrations when I first started my business was the desire to build my portfolio, but not necessarily having extensive means to do so. The early weddings I photographed were modest (but still beautiful!) and didn't have a plethora of details to photograph. I loved wedding details and I wanted to attract brides who liked the same thing, so I began to photograph the limited details in a way that maximized their exposure.

For instance, early in my career if I arrived at a wedding and there was a small dessert station, I'd photograph it like a small dessert station. Now, however, I see a small dessert station as a way to hone my styling skills and make photos, not merely take photos. This idea applies to every aspect of the wedding day, so I'll use a recent wedding photo shoot to illustrate my point.

When I arrived to the Nixon Library for the wedding, I noticed a small dessert station and decided to think of how many ways I could shoot it.

This station resulted in the following photos:
Vertical station photo
Horizontal station photo
Up close horizontal photo
Up close vertical photo
Individual photo of the chair (it was uber cute!)
Individual photo of signage
Up close vertical photo of cake
Up close horizontal photo of cake
Vertical photo of cupcakes
Horizontal photo of cupcakes
Vertical photo of macaroons
Up close vertical of cake details
Up close horizontal of cake details
Bride and Groom eating cupcakes
Vertical photo of groom posed holding a plate of cupcakes
Vertical photo of groom and bride holding cupcakes
Horizontal photo of hands holding cupcakes

I won't show all the photos now, but I wanted to share a few to showcase how we can take what we have (irregardless of how little we think it is) and make it work. By taking one small element of a wedding day and photographing it in smaller pieces, we can curate the wedding by highlighting various details…as well as highlight our styling skills.

Here are a few photos from the day, iincluding the exif data to give a better idea of my settings.

50mm f/2.0 1/160 320ISO

50mm f/2.0 1/125 320ISO

50mm f/2.0 1/160 320ISO

Left: 50mm f/2.0 1/160 320ISO
Right: 50mm f/2.0 1/100 640ISO

Whenever I have the bride and/or groom hold something, I ensure to choose the best of the bunch. For instance, I took the time to go through each cupcake to choose the one with the least imperfections. The baker appreciates it and it will save me time later in Photoshop.

Left: 50mm f/2.0 1/100 640ISO (I increased ISO to blow out the background)
Right: 50mm f/2.0 1/125 640ISO

50mm f/2.0 1/125 500ISO

Left: 50mm f/2.2 1/160 400ISO
Right: 50mm f/2.2 1/160 400ISO

50mm f/2.2 1/160 400ISO

Left: 50mm f/2.0 1/100 640ISO
Right: 50mm f/2.0 1/125 500ISO

50mm f/2.0 1/125 500ISO

I hope this offers insight to how I work and encourages you to take what you have and make it work. If you'd like to see more of how I shoot wedding/reception details, feel free to check out THIS video tutorial.

If you have questions, feel free to holler back. Happy Monday!